A faint sputter, that grew more pronounced, turned into a cough..that turned into a red-faced baby... catapulted me out of my arresting thoughts and toward him, my palm rhythmically tapping the top of his back. Pat. Pat. Pat. Firmer. Pat-pat. Pat-pat. Pat-pat.
"It's not working! Look -- his face is getting redder! He can't breathe!" I appealed while Tom ran around the table and unhooked Grant's tray (strewn with succulent pieces of chicken, juicy peas, stranded grains of fried rice, and shards of mini pretzel twists shedding salt) before I even finished my words. Reid sat quietly, his eyes like coffee brewing...developing depth with each passing moment.
We both fumbled with the booster seat's harness, while Tom's finger swiped over Grant's tongue. Nothing. But 'nothing' certainly wouldn't elicit the sounds he was now creating, nor the pall changing his complexion from reddish-scary to grayish-REALLY-scary. I patted the butter-soft skin under his wispy white-blonde hairline. Harder. And harder again while Tom propped him between his chest and right knee. I blinked in disbelief -- this ordeal played out at my Amish-made dinner table, sitting on my burgundy floral rug, in my L-shaped kitchen where Tom demolished the previous owner's floor and painted the walls Stonehenge Greige with my parents' help as I sat, big and pregnant, in a royal blue fold-out chair more familiar with baseball games than home improvement projects. Just a couple months before this little one joined our family...
I focused in on his thick silver wedding band that flashed like a streak of lightening as he raced against time to free Grant's airway. My eyes zoomed toward his, peaceful as a sun-drenched river in springtime, which seemed in direct opposition to the intent revealed by his pursed lips. He held our baby like a shepherd cradling his sheep.
Pat. Pat. Pat-pat-pat-PAT.
Like an answer to prayer, an impressive hunk of gummied pretzel appeared and downgraded Grant's cheeks toward fair-skin flush.
It wasn't until then that I heard Reid asking questions about where food goes when we chew and swallow. It wasn't until then that I heard the neighbor's black and tan dog barking in the backyard. It wasn't until then that I heard the suppertime traffic wheesh past our front door after a short stop-off at home to grab the family before heading back out for someone else's cooking.
"Here's your sippy...have some water. It's cold." His little hand, powered by the whole of his diminutive frame, pushed the the blue and green cup back to me while the other ran from his tummy toward the left diaper tab. Today I realized he can unhook them.
"Want some applesauce?" I slipped into the pantry grabbing a pouch to sway his vote and unscrewed its lemon yellow lid before offering a sip.
"Drink," I encouraged. Wash it alllllll down.
He did, between giggles and goo-goo eyes. I cradled him, nuzzling the satiny hair that framed his satiny forehead. And for the second time during tonight's dinner, time stood still...