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10 seconds of terror

December 22, 2011

I strapped my four-year old into his carseat and gave him a tightening tug for good measure. I’m so happy to see you, I said, as I kissed his forehead.

Calin yelled out, “I love you, Daddy” just before I shut the door. After chatting with Calin’s dad about the upcoming holiday weekend, I said goodbye and slid into the driver seat. As I buckled my seat belt, I noticed Calin’s legs flailing as his hands grabbed at his throat in the baby mirror.

Or maybe I imagined the throat grip. Maybe his cries are what grabbed my attention. But I can’t remember if he even made a sound. All I heard was the pounding crash of terror.

I ripped off my seatbelt and flew out of the car. Yanking the back door open, I waved my arm, screaming Chris’s name as I watched his tail lights pull away from my car.

Calin’s teary eyes looked at me in desperation.

My mind raced back to the hospital room nearly four years ago after he was born. I never watched the recommended CPR and how-to-save-a-choking-baby video.


Then I realized that video pertained to infants. The technique must be different for kids. I think it’s the same for adults. Heimlich?


I learned that in high school. Do movies count? Why didn’t I brush up on this over the past four years?

I remembered Chris telling me he knew this kind of stuff. Wait, no, I think it was that his dad taught this stuff. Either way, I furiously willed him to glance in the rearview mirror and turn around to save us.


As these thoughts raced through my head, I unbuckled Calin and pulled him out of the car as fast as I could. I pounded his back and suddenly mucus flew out. On the ground laid a piece of Cap’n Crunch.

I’ve never been so happy to see a breath of fresh air.

I hugged Calin tightly as he sobbed. I looked around at the people milling out of the high school gymnasium. Didn’t anyone hear my panicked screams? Then I realized I had no idea whether the screams were inside my head or if they had escaped my lips.

Those were the blurriest, most terrifying 10 seconds of my life.

Then Calin looked up at me and said, “Is Chris coming back?” Laughing, I said, “That’s daddy to you, my dear.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. Liz permalink
    December 22, 2011 10:17 am

    WOW! How scary! Way to go Kara!!! Thank goodness Calin is alright.

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