We walked way too many miles yesterday, so today we decided to just hang out at the guest house where we are staying in Kyoto and relax. It was raining this morning, so we all felt good about our choice.
The house is a traditional old Japanese house with two large guest rooms nestled into the eaves upstairs, so the sound of rain falling on the roof was literally right over our heads. It was lovely. We spent the morning reading, talking, and playing games. It felt restorative and almost magical.
It’s so crazy how things can change in the blink of an eye.
My nine year-old son Bear was eating a slice of juicy Japanese peach, when all of a sudden he started to choke. He was making a weird rasping noise, so at first I wasn’t sure if he was just being a nine year-old boy, or if he was really in distress. “Are you choking?” I asked. He didn’t answer, just continued to rasp. His eyes told me everything I needed to know. I grabbed him and did the best Heimlich I could.
My daughter Bird was standing next to us, frozen with shock. Josh was in the other room on the phone with Japan Railway. I quickly realized that whatever I was doing wasn’t effective, so I screamed, “HELP! HELP! HELP!”
Josh dropped the phone and was next to us in a flash. He grabbed Bear and swiftly did the Heimlich again. The way he did it worked, and the peach chunk flew out of Bear’s windpipe and onto the floor.
Bear, Bird, and I burst into tears. “Mommy, mommy, I was dying! I was choking!” Bear sobbed. We all hugged each other; we couldn’t believe this had just happened.
It was terrifying and so awful. It got me to thinking, too: what do you do when you’re in a foreign country and something goes seriously wrong? In our case, I suppose we would have run outside and screamed for help in English and hoped someone understood what we needed.
And I hate thinking about all the what-ifs, but right now they are crowding my head.
I’m hoping that this memory becomes a distant one soon. In the meantime, I’m going to go to lie down next to my little Bear and count my lucky stars.