I sit at my computer desk with a hot cup of tea, ready to work on a to-do list a mile long. The house is quiet, but through an open window I hear a bird chirping, and in the distance I hear the school bell ring. We live a couple of blocks from my daughter’s school, so when I hear the bell I imagine my 12-year-old daughter walking to class with her friends.
After finishing my tea, I dive into my first work project for the day.
When I hear sirens rushing past, I pause to say a quick prayer, like I always do, for whomever the ambulance is racing to help. Moments later my phone rings and I recognize the school’s number. I register the sirens again and grab my phone. The voice on the other end says…
“Mrs. Hughes, I work at your daughter’s school. She swallowed something and began choking…”
Before the lady can finish her sentence I’m halfway out the door.
“Your daughter couldn’t breathe . . . She collapsed on the ground . . .”
I’m in my car, listening to this lady talk while also praying. Praying hard.
“I’m told your daughter has regained consciousness but . . . she’s in an ambulance now . . . can you come straight to the school?”
I’m already there. I park my car at an awkward angle behind the ambulance and run past the principal.
My Brynn is strapped to a gurney with a mask over her face.
The paramedic tells me the percentage of her oxygenation, and he says something else, but all I hear is, “She’s going to be okay.” He says they need to take her to the hospital for evaluation, but I’m still focused on the part where he said she’s going to be okay. I rub Brynn’s leg because it’s the only part of her I can reach, and I tell her I’m here.
An ambulance ride later we’re in the emergency room, answering questions and filling out forms. As Brynn answers the doctor’s questions, I hear the whole story. A friend passed around some candy. When Brynn popped a piece in her mouth, it got stuck in her throat and she couldn’t breathe. No air was getting through. None. To get her friends’ attention, she waved her arms and pointed to her throat.
One friend (whose dad is a police officer with LAPD) immediately called 9-1-1 on her cell phone, quickly explained the situation, and gave the school’s street address. Another friend who happens to be the fastest runner in the seventh grade (her parents are track and field coaches) took off running toward the school office to find an adult. Another friend, who had just taken a first aid class to become a babysitter, tried to do the Heimlich. And another friend held her hand and cried.
Her friends reported that Brynn’s lips turned blue and she fell to the ground unconscious. About that time they could hear the sirens coming. And two blocks away a mom offered up a prayer for “whomever” needed help.
While sitting in the ER, I marvel at the way her friends responded.
They’re only 12 years old, but they didn’t panic. They didn’t freeze. Each of them reacted with quick thinking, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
We all need girlfriends who rush to our sides when we most need help.
We need girlfriends who respond to situations with wisdom and care.
We need girlfriends who reach for our hands when we can’t breathe.
We need each other. When a child is ill. When bills loom large. When depression creeps in. When a marriage falls apart. We need friends who are there for us and will pray with us.
Together, we can be like my daughter’s friends, who each did the one thing they knew how to do. And if we feel like we don’t have the experience or the words needed for a particular occasion, that’s okay too.
Sometimes the most important thing we can do is hold a friend’s hand when she can’t breathe.
When a woman is still bleeding from a miscarriage.
When her husband has just lost his job.
When her adult child isn’t walking with the Lord.
When her husband tells her he’s leaving . . . and there’s someone else.
We can be there. Sharing the tears and holding her hand.
Because we’re women of the Word — women of grace and women of truth.