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A Baby Falls: The Gift of Near-Disaster

Jun 3, 2008
One amazing story in the news recently concerns a baby in Albany who tumbled out of a second-storey window (while her mother was momentarily distracted) and fell into the arms of a postal worker who stood below.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! This story gives new meaning to the term "postal service," which most people regard as an oxymoron.

If you were that postal worker, wouldn't you think you had been designated an angel, at least temporarily? How else could you have been so miraculously positioned? And even if that was your only angelic act ever, you would get to go through the day and the year and your life, knowing that you had saved a tiny child.

You might figure that you no longer had to work to get to heaven, that this event bought you a first class ticket. But hopefully you would go on looking for angel opportunities, in spite of your elevated status.

How about the child? What will she think, many years from now, when she comes to understand the divine intervention that allowed her to live past the age of eighteen months? Will she meet the postal worker, get to know her angel? Hopefully, at the very least, she will carry around a little shock and awe and gratitude that will serve her well in life. Maybe she, too, will keep her eye on windowsills for adventurous babies.

Now let us consider the third party in this miraculous triangle: the mother.

I know that, although I have always had minor anxiety, when my first child was born, I began to worry in earnest. My imagination exploded with possible baby-threatening scenarios: SIDS, drowning in one of L.A.'s omnipresent pools, kidnapping. Even now that she is a teenager, I inhale when she hops in the Honda and only exhale when she returns safely from the madness of the Los Angeles freeways.

Most parents feel this way, to varying degrees, and I am sure the mother of the Albany baby is no exception.

So how was it for her as she ran down the stairs to recover her child after the fall, all her maternal anxiety finally justified? She must have been gripped by devastation, guilt, hysteria and grief; she must have been insane. Then, when she burst from the door to find a postal worker holding her cooing baby, it is hard even to imagine her transition to ecstatic disbelief.

Now, some days later, how does the mother feel after her worst fears were realized and then so quickly dispelled? Aside from putting new locks on the windows, how will she respond? My guess is she will get the gift near-disaster gives: a greatly expanded sense of her daughter's preciousness.

While this mother's emotional rollercoaster ride is way beyond anything I have known, I feel the inpact of her story. When my daughter comes home from college in a few weeks, I will worry while she is in the cab to the airport, worry more while she is in the air, and worry again until she rings the doorbell.

In all likelihood she will get home safely; angels will watch her every step of the way. And when she falls into my arms, it will not be from a high window, but I will flash back to the story of the baby in Albany, and I will hug her a little harder.
About the Author
Jessica Harper is an award-winning actor, author and singer-songwriter. Her most recent book is "Uh-oh, Cleo," a chapter book for young readers from G.P. Putnam's Sons. Learn more about Jessica and her products for children at http://www.jessicaharper.com.
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