77: Just Go

77: Just Go

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

Just Go

Not everything we experience can be explained by logic or science.

~Linda Westphal

I’d been restless all morning, feeling uncomfortable and not able to put a finger on why. Everything seemed all right. I’d woken up that morning next to my wife, we’d had a wonderful Saturday breakfast together, but I was sitting on the sofa holding the front page of the newspaper and not really reading it. Something was wrong, but I didn’t know what.

My wife didn’t seem to notice my distraction. She busied herself cutting fabric for a new quilt. I sat and stared at the back yard through the French doors, trying to figure out what was bothering me.

All of a sudden, I was gripped by the feeling that I needed to be somewhere. I didn’t know where, but I knew it wasn’t here inside the house. I headed for the front door and my hand automatically went to my pocket for my car key. But then something told me I wasn’t going to be driving anywhere. I unlocked the front door and stood there on the threshold waiting.

“Honey,” my wife Ann said, looking up from her sewing machine. “Is everything all right?”

I wanted to tell her there was nothing wrong, but somehow I knew that wasn’t the truth. I looked at her and smiled, and the words came from my mouth before I even had a chance to think about them.

“I need to go for a walk,” I said.

Ann looked at me, studying something in my eyes. Then she nodded and said, “Well, have a nice time, dear.”

I nodded and stepped out onto the porch, wondering where I was supposed to go. Apparently, my legs had an idea because I found myself starting off on one of our normal morning walks. This time, however, I turned north after going one block and walked up a street that I’d never taken before.

After I’d covered a few blocks, I began to hear two female voices, and one of them was crying hysterically. A voice in my head said Hurry and I found myself running toward the sound. I ran up to a house where two women stood on the front lawn. One of them was dressed in a bathing suit. She was the one crying.

“My baby!” she yelled, staring down at a small girl lying still on the green grass. “My baby’s dead!”

The other woman stood there next to her, holding her hand. The color had drained out of her face. She looked up to see me approaching and said, “They were swimming in the back yard. I think her daughter’s drowned!”

Years ago, in college, I’d been trained in CPR because I’d taken a summer job teaching kids how to swim at a summer camp. I hadn’t thought about that time in ages, but all of a sudden the memory of my training came flooding back into my brain. I knelt by the little girl.

I began doing CPR and asked if anyone had called 911. The woman standing next to the little girl’s mother nodded weakly. I checked for a pulse, found none, cleared the girl’s airway and began CPR. Her mother continued to cry hysterically, but that all faded away for me as I focused on all the steps I remembered from CPR class.

I don’t know how much time passed, but finally the girl coughed, spit up water, and vomited. She began to cry just as an ambulance pulled up, and the EMS crew ran over. I backed away while they went to work. Her mother sat next to her, shaking with emotion.

You’re done here, the voice inside my head said suddenly. So I let my legs turn me around and I walked away, even as I heard one of the EMTs call out to me, “Thanks!”

When I got home, my wife was still working on her quilt. I walked inside on shaky legs and collapsed on the sofa. My wife looked up from her work, smiled at me, and asked, “So, how did your walk go?”

I opened my mouth and took a deep breath, intending to tell her everything that had happened, but then I heard myself say simply, “It went well, I think. Yes, I’d say everything went pretty well.”

~John P. Buentello

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