I just got back from a business trip. I used to like these things. The subject manner is usually mind-numbing, but I love my coworkers and it used to be a chance for me to get out of the day to day for a little while. Staying in a
nice hotel, going out to eat without having to hurry back home to pay a babysitter, and having a few drinks with people that I normally never get to drink alcohol with was pretty fun.
Now I’m just too screwed up.
I checked into my hotel room and, truth be told, it really was a crappy room. I didn’t sleep well at all and was a bitchy, tired mess the next day. I normally would have lightly griped about it like everyone else, but I had an especially big chip on my shoulder all day. I even started annoying myself. I didn’t really notice that maybe something else was going on with me until the very end of the day. I got into the elevator with about 10 other people. It was jammed and I was all the way in the back. Someone asked me what floor I was on.
Me: The 15th floor.
Other Person: Oh, that’s cool, that’s an executive floor.
Me: Yea, it’s a real SHIT HOLE.
I got off the elevator and walked to my room, realizing that I just said that in the middle of a bunch of strangers at the very same conference, and yes, I was totally sober.
The next day we went out to lunch, all 17 of us. There was one person in the group who didn’t work with us and didn’t know me. She was incredibly friendly and started asking about my kids. I told her I had two. The questions kept coming. Everyone else in the group knows my son died and they all could hear this conversation slowly nose diving into terribly uncomfortable territory. I gave no eye contact and no indication I was excited to keep going with a deep analysis of my family dynamics. My boss’ boss saved the day at the last second by making some random statement about the new stadium being built. Thank Christ. Normally with a stranger I can just go along as if my son is not dead and say he’s 13 months. I didn’t know what to do when everyone around could hear every word. Everybody would have understood, but there’s a level of embarrassment, oddly, about other people listening to you lie about your awful life.
I slept better the next night, but by night 3 I was a disaster again. I stayed up way too late crying and missing Jay. I’m just not a good traveler anymore. I brought his teddy bear, but it wasn’t enough. I just felt lonely and horrible, and I didn’t want to sleep because sometimes feeling that shitty is the only way to feel close to my son.
The next day was a class on how to deal with stress. Do aerobic exercise. Eat a banana. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I could not have have attended this at a worse time.
I was able to leave after that class, and I surprised my daughter by picking her up from school on the way home. She gave me an incredible hug. It felt like she was healing my heart. I cried a little. We got in the car and One Republic’s “Feel Again” was playing on the radio. It captured my feelings perfectly.
That evening we headed to Marin’s Country Mart to have dinner. We circled around to find a spot, and my husband and I noticed a man lying on the ground with two people kneeling over him. The ground behind his head was soaked in blood. Someone was crying. I can’t even describe the feeling of horror mixed with the thought “You have got to be shitting me”. After we parked I told my husband that I wanted to go back and make sure an ambulance arrived. They had. A few people were standing around watching, and I hated to be included in the group of looky-loos, but I needed to know. I asked someone if he was OK.
“No, he’s not. I wish I hadn’t seen this,” he said,
I hesitated. I wasn’t going to ask, but I did. “What happened?”
“He came out of the bar drunk. It looked like he had been fighting with two other guys. But I don’t think he was fighting when it happened. I think he passed out and fell and hit his head.” Oh my God.
“Is he dead?”
“Yea. I think he is. Blood was just pouring out of his ear.”
I walked away.
He hit his head and died. If there is a God, why in the world would he have me see this again? What are the chances that I was there and that I would see someone else die from hitting their head? Something broke inside me when my son died. And another chip just came off when I saw this. A chip of what, I don’t know. Maybe sanity, or hope. Yes, it was hope.
I feel like it’s a miracle anyone is alive, ever. During dinner, I sat and watched all these other people laughing and eating. Living. I ate a pizza and thought about the timeline of this man’s death. “Right now his parents are probably at the hospital. Right now they’re looking at his body. Right now they are in shock. They will be spending this weekend making arrangements. Nothing will ever be the same for those people. They are thinking about giving birth to him, who he was as a little boy and all the events that led up to this accident.” I looked at my daughter and wondered what kind of random miracle kept her alive this long, and how long do I have with her?
It’s too much.