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Looking Out

August 3, 2012

Years ago my eldest daughter called me with a harrowing story. I wrote it up at that time as I tended to do, to save it. I found it last evening and decided to share it. I apologize for the length, but I’m hoping you will stay with it.

My daughter was driving home with her three year old from a round of errands. She entered her driveway and just happened to look across into her neighbor’s front yard and noticed one of their four sons standing awkwardly by a small dogwood tree. There was something troubling in what she saw so she stopped and looked more closely through the shrubs that bordered their homes. He was not standing. He was hanging.

She slammed on the emergency brake and bolted out of the car screaming for help as she ran. She found the boy blue and lifeless hanging no more than two inches off the ground. Somehow while climbing he had snared himself on a tiny nub on the tree with a string necklace that he had been wearing. She pulled him down, and, like all of us would, racked her brain to recall old CPR lessons learned, and mostly forgotten.  She steeled herself for the emergency procedure which would have to be done through the foam which had gathered at the boy’s mouth. As she started she was pulled off by the boy’s father who had heard her screams. He knew CPR and soon had the boy breathing again. The child was taken to the hospital by ambulance but was able to return home within hours.

My daughter and the boy’s mother talked to each other several times that evening. Each time they cried and cried, two young mothers sharing their brush with the deepest dread of parenthood and the overwhelming relief in avoiding a horrible tragedy that would have been truly devastating.

When we talked, my daughter asked the inevitable question. What would have happened, if? The boy’s mother was out shopping.  The boy’s father was inside with their baby. The other boys were playing in the back yard. Neighbors directly across the street were out in their yard mowing. They could not have heard anything and they had seen nothing. What if she had been preoccupied? What if she had been in too much of a hurry? What if she had simply not glanced over into her neighbor’s yard?

We talked about this at some length. My daughter does not consider herself a hero. She acted instinctively to what she saw. There are religious connotations to near death experiences. Perhaps it was not the little boy’s time. But her last words on the subject ring true as well. There is meaning in this experience in the broader definition of family. My daughter probably just happened to look and immediately understand that something was amiss because she knows and cares for her neighbors. She wasn’t necessarily looking out for them but she WAS looking out.

Bottom line, I believe that my daughter was being a good neighbor. We have all heard that it takes a village to raise a child. I guess it takes good neighbors to protect them too. Keep an eye on your neighborhood. You never know. Maybe it would be a good idea to brush up on that CPR as well.

From → Kids, Life Stories

One Comment
  1. Wow, what a powerful learning lesson! It will sure make me think twice if I see something “amiss”

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