When we were kids, my sister Anna nearly choked to death on a marshmallow.  It was a wintery afternoon, with snow deep on the ground when we trooped down to our uncle’s house to have hot chocolate. There being six kids in our family plus a token adopted neighborhood kid or two, inviting ten rambunctious children in to drink hot beverages was risky enough without one of them nearly dying.

Sitting mere centimeters away from me, Anna silently gagged and turned a bluish shade of purple before I had any indication that there was something amiss.  It was our friend Kristi, cozied up across the table from us, who finally noticed Anna’s predicament.  Instead of flailing out or banging a distressed fist on the wooden tabletop, Anna sat quietly next to me and stoically fought death off.  As Kristi’s hysterical screams echoed through the room, Anna calmly pulled the offending marshmallow from her mouth and layed it, slimy and dripping, on the table.

It was a good few years I believe before she was able to gulp down whole marshmallows again and though ultimately she saved herself that day, I often wonder why Anna struggled on alone, noiselessly choking, instead of making a scene for help.  Yet, that is Anna, always determined to seize life in her way, in her terms.  Whether she knows it or not though, there always are and always have been those of us standing by, at the ready, should she ever need saving again or just a good strong pat on the back.

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