There are two reoccurring themes whenever I read about a tragedy. Sound is one. For me at least, I tend to focus on how the person sounded. For example I read recently, “I will never forget the sound of Madame Veronique’s screams.” The other keynote is regret and how the bereaved lamented they parted on bad terms.
It was a normal day as normal goes even if we were celebrating a birthday. Lovely Liam was being particularly demanding and looking for a lot of attention. Typically when someone called to the house.
I was losing patience with him and told him so. He insisted on dragging out of me as he jumped up and down, shouting at me to listen and repeating his, to me, unimportant demands.
It was a difficult afternoon. Mid-week of the spring mid-term break.
Later that evening I was upstairs removing nail polish and Lovely Liam followed me. I asked him to stay clear of the nail polish remover in case it got knocked over. Naturally, the smell attracted him and he came closer, bumping the bed and causing the bottle to wobble.
My tone was cross and my expression annoyed as I looked at him and in no uncertain terms asked him to move away until I was done.
He did. And as he did so, he told me he doesn’t like it when I give out to him.
I explained I wanted to keep him (and my bed!) safe and that is why I was cross.
I capped the bottle and invited him over for a smell. He did so. Cautiously and for a split second, declaring it had gone right up his nose and he didn’t like it.
I refrained from saying “told you so” and we headed for the stairs. He went down first and I glanced back to see my bedroom door was wide open and the light left on.
I told Lovely Liam to head down stairs carefully and I would follow.
It took me all of two seconds to backtrack, switch off the light and pull the door after me. I heard a small bump and I looked over the top landing to see Lovely Liam had tripped and was sitting on the stairs.
He let out a wail.
I began my descent and when I reached him he had turned and placed his legs through the gap between the treads on the stairs and was leaning forwards.
He looked up at me, his hands clutching his throat, his face puce and his eyes wide with horror.
He had been sucking a lollipop all the time he was with me! He inhaled it when he tripped and it was stuck in his throat.
I grabbed him, lifted him up and got him down the last 6 or so steps. I began to shake him, my version of the Heimlich manoeuvre and roared for Mister Husband.
It wasn’t working so I thumped him a few times. Mister Husband was watching, not knowing what was happening.
“Lollipop.” I said. “Lollipop!”
He took over and bent Lovely Liam double. The lollipop was still stuck.
All of this took place in about 15 seconds but I could feel that scream building in my throat and I had started to release it when Mister Husband stuck his fingers into Liam’s mouth and pulled the lollipop out, still attached to the stick.
It was no bigger than a gob stopper.
Lovely Liam and I sat on the stairs for several minutes with his arms wrapped around me, just hugging.
We spent the day at odds with each other and that scream was maybe an echo in my throat but I could still hear it. The rawness of it.
When Lovely Liam finally did let me go, he put his hands around his throat again and declared “that was a close one, wasn’t it, Mammy?”
He has no idea.