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2,524,608,000 Seconds

2,524,608,000 Seconds

My daughter’s eyes rolled back and she went limp in my arms.


I just experienced what were probably the most terrifying moments of my entire life.

I thought that my precious, beautiful, sweet little red-headed two-year-old girl was dying in my arms. Thank God she is fine, but I don't think I will ever forget the fear that pulsed through my body at that moment.

I was walking home with my family on a sunny Shabbat morning through the streets of Jerusalem's Old City where we live. Near the end of our walk home we had to climb a set of stone stairs. I was at the tail end of our group, facing backwards as I maneuvered our baby stroller up the stairs with the skilled technique of an old city resident. Halfway up I heard my little daughter start to cry, seemingly because she wanted something.

Before I even knew what was going on, as I climbed the last couple of stairs, I started to impart my usual line about how “we use words when we want something instead of crying.” As I scooped her up in my arms to finish telling her this, I could hear my husband and cousin attempting to explain that she had fallen and was crying for good reason.

But their words were just an echo ringing in my head, because as they spoke I quickly realized that something was very wrong. My daughter started arching her back as one might do in a temper tantrum. Then her body went stiff, her eyes rolled back, and she went limp in my arms. She very quickly turned blue in the face. I saw she wasn't breathing. And I started screaming hysterically.

I stood in the street hysterical as people tried to calm me down.

"Get a doctor! Save my baby! Why aren't you doing anything?!" I shrieked urgently. My husband grabbed the baby from me and was trying to calm me down. But I stood in the street hysterical as passersby stopped to try to help figure out what was going on.

It turns out that when my daughter had been upset about whatever it was, she had lost her footing and fallen hard on her tailbone right onto our ancient stone sidewalk, which was apparently a much harsher fall than I had realized, having not seen it myself. Others understood that she had the wind knocked right out of her and would be fine. As soon as my husband took her from me, she came to and started crying – a good sign.

Within a moment or two, a neighbor saw the situation, quickly re-assuring us that she had only fainted, as his daughters unfortunately have a tendency of doing quite often, and there was nothing to be alarmed about. Apparently, when she had fallen hard, she was a bit shocked and couldn't catch her breath – hence the not breathing and fainting.

Precious Moments

So, thank God, this near-death experience was a fake-out. But it made me realize that it just as easily could not have been, God forbid. When she went limp, not-breathing and blue, I felt like someone pulled this mighty off-lever of life, one like you might see controlling a factory floor. In one split second, for no reason, my baby's life was just being shut down and there was nothing I could do about it. So I started screaming. All I could think was, We need to get her breathing again, and we only have a few seconds to do it! Not being in the middle of an emergency room surrounded by a team of doctors with all the right equipment, I felt like a traveler in the desert knocked to the sandy ground from thirst, with no water and no salvation in sight.

If it was my last day, how would I have used it?

From this, I learned two things. One: we cannot wait for the off-lever to be pulled. I did a Google search to see how many seconds are in an average human life. 2,524,608,000 seconds (the equivalent of 80 years, if we're lucky). Two and a half billion seconds and how many of them do we really use? In how many of them are we really grateful that we're alive? That we have loved ones? That I even have a precious little two-year-old baby girl? Life is just too short. We do not have the luxury of time.

We have to live to the fullest today. I live in Israel. I might be in more danger living here than if I lived in Germany in 1939. A nuclear Iran could wipe me off the map, and you know what? The day before would be a normal day, just like today.

If it was my last day, how would I have used it?

Why are we wasting so much of our lives?

Enough pettiness! Enough complaining! Enough 'if-onlys’! Every second is a gift to be treasured, experienced, and elevated to a higher purpose.

The Jewish understanding of God is not just that He made the world and left it to run by itself. God is not only Creator, but also Sustainer and Supervisor. That means for every second I have with my precious daughter, not only is He not pulling the off-lever, but He is pushing the on-lever!

We don’t need to wait for death and doom to loom over us before we wake up and see how good were “the good ol' days.” Let’s live them now. No matter what hardship or challenge we confront, we are alive – experiencing and cherishing life’s infinite good.

In the merit of the full recovery of my father, David Yaakov ben Golda

March 25, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 4

(3) David Valentin, March 30, 2012 4:46 AM

Hashem is all powerful

This happened to my younger son, at a friends house. my son was running up and down with the kids and he fell, he cried and then went silent. my wife lost it, i inmediatly took him away from her arms, i instructed my friend to call 911. he lived there and knew the address better than me. my friends wife tried to calm my wife down. in what appear a century my son came back. I said to myself, G-d you gave him to me dont take him away!, the paramedics checked him and he was back to play in 30 minutes. as a parent i have never felt so useless than at that moment,. every erev shabbat i make sure i bless my boys thanking the king of the universe that i have their little heads under my palms. Baruch Hashem!

(2) Sharon Brandt Hodge, March 25, 2012 5:59 PM

Learn CPR to Save the Lives of Your Family and Others.

Oh Julie! This sounds so very familiar! This seems to be a Jewish thing, as your neighbor was telling you that the same thing happens to his daughter. And, yes, it does seem to be most predominate in girls. This very same thing began happening to our first daughter as a baby and lasted until around her 40th month or so, maybe to about 46 months. Just knowing what it is, is no reason for relief. This daughter had an above genius IQ fortunately, and could explain to us what was happening to her: At a point when she was crying, her lungs became deflated to a point that she was no longer able to draw in a breath on her own. When your husband took little Julie from you, this is what probably made it possible for her to get air again by shifting her body or applying pressure to her diaphragm between her ribcage. I remember one awful moment when I heard her crying fall silent, and when I turned towards her, I saw the blue in her face. My husband was the closest to her, and he grabbed her up, and blew a couple of puffs of air into her mouth with the skill of an emergency medical technician, at which point she began breathing again. I asked him where he learned to do that, but he could not recall. From that point until she no longer had the problem, we never left her alone, and always used that technique of blowing air into her mouth, whenever she was in distress. Now there are pocket sized respirators online that are not expensive. Essentially, they allow you to deliver the puffs of air to inflate the lungs, without having to experience the baby spit in your own mouth. In emergencies, however, no one is thinking about the baby spit. Doctors have a code called, "Life before limb", but in this case it would be, "Life before spit". This could very well be true, because if Julie's lungs are having problems getting inflated again, every second counts to get her lungs inflated. Never wait more than 4 minutes, because at that point brain damage occurs. Learn CPR. Try YouTube.

(1) ruth housman, March 25, 2012 3:47 PM

with one's heart in one's mouth

I was almost afraid to read this, because it's frightening, to read about a child in such distress. I realize how you came to an epiphany through this, an epiphany that should be shared, and this is about the value of what we often take so for granted, the precious hours, minutes, and seconds we have here, and the gifts we get by way of family, the beauty that surrounds us, being simply alive, to see another sunrise, another sunset. It's a message endlessly repeated, by poets, by those who take time to truly smell the roses, by those who among us are deeply sensitive and sensitized to what's important. A message that can never be repeated too often. But I take issue with God created us and left us alone. Because the synchronicity in my small life tells me this is categorically NOT true, and I can by now cite chapter and verse on this. I know G0d is right here, and that the evidence that is overwhelming by way of a life of near total visible astonishment of connects via synchronicity, which is written down, is telling me you are wrong. Would I rather you were right? I think about this, but NO, I would rather know, God runs not part of the show, but the entire show, and the hidden face of God is evident to me everywhere I go, everything I do, and sure, like every one in this world, I go to the WALL on those terrible things that do happen, as in the current cruel insanity that took the lives of children and their father. I am human, and I was created humane. So I go to Jerusalem. Join me at The WALL and ask God for a reprieve, because the world has sufferend enough, here, on this plane.

chava, March 25, 2012 9:55 PM

HaShem runs the show

The author didn't say that HaShem created us & left us on our own. She said clearly, "God is not only Creator, but also Sustainer and Supervisor." And as you both said, that's very important and important to recognize & know.

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