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Monday, November 18, 2013

April 10,2013

I find it strange that this is a day of celebration for someone out there.  This is someone's birthday, someone's anniversary.  This is the day that forever changed me.  The person I was before then no longer exists.  In some ways this is a good thing.  I no longer have heart palpitations when my son runs a fever.  My road rage has lessened.  I forgive the rude lady in the line at the grocery store with ease.  Her brother is probably recovering from a traumatic brain injury.


The wind was loud that night.  Howling is a term often used.  To most this is an unsettling sound, an eerie foreshadowing as it rattles their windows.  But since that day, I am no longer afraid of it.   Since that day I can hear its message much more clearly.

“Tell them you love them…” it whispers.  “Forget the laundry...have you told them today?” 

I distinctly remember feeling defeated, all day actually.   I remember minor things, like wearing a dress to work.  I remember being exhausted.  I kept wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”  There was absolutely nothing to be sad about, looking back.  The universe is funny that way, always trying to tell you.  Always watching. 

I came home from work at a normal enough time.  Frankie was napping and my mother left.  Little did I know this would be the very last time she would watch my son while I worked.  For three years it had been the two of them together.  April 10, 2013…the very last time. Mike arrived home and told me I looked tired.  I told him I was.  It is difficult to explain, how I felt that day.  It was not a premonition, but a feeling of immense dread.  Impending doom perhaps?  I went to bed at 7:30, which is highly abnormal.  Something about the day had worn me out physically, mentally.  I had to start over.  I remember hearing the sirens around then.  I remember the windows were open. 

I got out of bed about forty minutes later and listened to the news.  There had been a tornado in Hazelwood…near school.  I thought of my students, and of my family and called my mother.  “Everyone’s okay,” she assured me.  Bobby’s plane had landed and he was en route home, Mary and the kids had gotten into the basement.  Their house had sustained some damage but all were okay.  Everyone was home except for you.  You had left about ten minutes before I called…right after the sirens had stopped.  Mom assured me you were sitting in traffic on 170 due to some downed power lines.  Everyone was okay.  I went back to bed.  Impending doom. 

At 11:19 I heard Mike’s phone on the desk, a whisper of a ring.  Half asleep I wondered what time it was, but nothing registered yet.  I picked up my phone from the nightstand, still on silent from work.  Two missed calls.  Bobby. I shot up, noting the time and realizing something must be wrong.  I yelled for Mike to answer his phone, which was now ringing again. He got up to answer, and I could tell from his voice that it was not good news.

I don’t remember the following moments with much clarity.  I began to get dressed as Mike asked my brother what hospital.  As I found my gray sweatpants in the dark, I asked him to tell me what had happened.  It was then that I started to hyperventilate.   I asked Mike not to say anything yet.  I thought, in my panicked state, that this delay would buy me some time.  Time for someone to take this back, whatever this horrible thing was looming in our bedroom.  I knew something was about to change our lives forever.   Mike hung up the phone, and after a few seconds I said I was ready.   I remember hearing your name, and the words “critical condition”.  Mom called me as I was putting on my boots.  She was on her way to the hospital, and explained that you had been found underneath an overpass.  I immediately pictured you getting out of your car and being hit.  She told me you had fallen.  I asked if you were found breathing, and she said yes.  You never had to be resuscitated...the only piece of good news I would cling to for weeks.

I told Mike to stay with Frank, as I stumbled into his room to search for my sweatshirt.  My sweet baby boy was asleep in his bed, oblivious to his mommy’s world unraveling before her.  I bent down to kiss his forehead and began to weep, only for a brief second.  Then I hurried out the door. 

The car ride was something surreal.  The skies seemed so calm, almost taunting me as I drove to you.  I followed the speed limit, stopping only to vomit as I turned off our street.  I cannot explain the calmness that came over me after that.  I pictured you driving just hours before.  I wondered what time you had been hurt, and what I had been dreaming about at that moment.

I didn’t think about much on my drive, but could only imagine that your fall had made you unrecognizable to us.   I mentally prepared myself for that.  I didn’t anticipate how unrecognizable my entire world was about to become.

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