Following my accident, while being transported by ambulance, the paramedic asked me who they could call to inform them about my situation. Even in the depths of my pain, I knew I could not give them my Mother’s number. She could not have survived a long distance phone call like that.
My older son was at my home, but there was no way I was going to allow him to get a call from a stranger telling him that his mother had been in a horrible accident and struck by a freight train. I couldn’t bear the thought of his 13 year old psyche taking that kind of hit.
So, I gave them my brother’s number. He was tough, and while I knew he was irresponsible in numerous ways, I also knew he knew better than to just call my mother on the phone and drop that kind of news on her. He lived in the same city as her, so could, at the least, drive to her house and inform her in person, which he did.
Unbeknownst to me until months later, at the exact time I was beginning my trip to the hospital, my brother and my son were chatting to each other online.
When my brother got the call from the RCMP, he hung up the phone and then chose to relay the information to my son that his mom had been in a horrific car accident. Hit by a train. Not likely to survive. Then closed the chat by adding that he needed to go tell Nan about it in person, cus she couldn’t handle that sort of news over the phone.
My son then apparently jumped on his bike and flew over to his father’s house, three blocks away. As he was turning into the cul de sac , he spotted his dad pulling out of the driveway with his 11 year old brother in the passenger seat.
He jumped off his bike while it was still in motion ( remember having that skill as a kid?) and screamed at his dad to stop.
This 13 year old child (man), then had the emotional maturity to tell his little brother to go in the house as he had something important to tell his dad.
I can’t tell you with absolute certainty what my ex husband felt in that moment, but I can guess, based on the look on his face when I woke up in the trauma room and saw him looking down at me.
“If she dies, I’m going to have to raise these boys on my own.”
“I can’t believe she did this to me.”
” I wonder if she was still paying the life insurance policy?”
“I hope I’m not on the hook for a funeral-we were separated. For all I know, she’s seeing someone else already!”
He looked scared shit-less, for lack of more flowery prose. Absolutely terrified.
And seeing his face like that gave me the strength and will to fight through the pain and continue living.
Because I knew he was at the core a very unemotional and intellectually barren man. I had been married to him long enough to know all the reasons why.
In the beginning, he told me all of his sad stories of his childhood.
I shared not much at all, to be honest. There simply wasn’t enough room within our relationship for anyone else’s pain but his, and I was OK with that. I was already such a skilled enabler and codependent that I was the perfect girl for him.
The time was never right to open up to him, and I quickly learned to watch his expressions and those big blues, for signs of boredom or distaste.
He was and is an incredibly selfish man.
A man who keeps an internal list of who owes him and who he has helped in the past. For someone with that kind of memory of wrongs perpetuated, he has no side of the ledger where his trespasses against others are tallied.
He is the judge and jury of everyone he has ever met or interacted with his entire life.
He once wrote off his favourite nephew for borrowing $ 400.00 for a hungry wife and babies and not paying it back. It didn’t cause him to go hungry, or take on extra hours at work, or even cut down on his daily 6-pack, but it ate him to the core.
To the core.
Any time that particular nephew is brought up in conversation by someone, he just has to share that story with everyone, and I find THAT more distasteful than the act of not paying someone back that you borrow money from.
I have a PhD from the esteemed schools of Shit Happens and Hard Knocks.
I get how you can start a day with great intentions and end it with the covers over your head and shaking inside at how much shit has flown down the hill your way and knowing you won’t have the strength to deal with any of it until the next day.
My ex husband, father of my children, has always been such a dichotomy to me.
I began seeing him shortly after my father died suddenly. He was 27 and I was 17.
He was big and strong and loud and fierce in appearance. He had the bluest eyes I had ever seen in my life.
He liked to drink and he liked to fight. He had boxed for years semi-professionally and missed all that action, I guess.
What he saw in me, I really don’t know, and he wasn’t the sort you asked silly questions like that to.
I asked him once about 10 years into our marriage if he loved me. It was while we were laying in bed together in the dark, waiting for sleep to take us, and I spontaneously asked him.
His response was a loud sigh of displeasure and then he said ” That’s a stupid question. I’m here, aren’t I?”
I never asked again.
Another time, after watching a segment on the Oprah show, I closed my eyes and asked him what colour they were. We had been married about ten years by then, and he guessed wrong.
He also shared with me that he has read 2 books in his entire lifetime and both times, they were mandatory assignments in school.
Oh- and he doesn’t really like music.
I tell these anecdotes not to disparage him, but rather to give the most precise examples I can recall from our relationship in order to best describe him to someone who has never met him.
I truly believe that my children are the reason I survived that accident but I must give Jack his due, as well.
There was no fucking way I was leaving those two amazing, intelligent, loving boys in his solo care…ever.
I knew he would damage them in ways they would never recover from. Not from anything intentionally done, but by his negligence and lack of ability or sense.
He would forget them, or their needs, or give to himself first, as he always had.
They would receive the scraps and there was no way I could allow that to happen to them.
They would have figuratively been like two small trees drying out and bending until they snapped from lack of water and the nutrients they required in order to continue to grow and thrive.
Their roots would be weak and rotting from the inside.
They would never survive strong winds or sunless days.
They needed me to provide for them in those ways, and I believe the fates knew that and allowed me to survive for that reason.
While they were fixing all my broken pieces in the trauma OR following my accident, my sons were in a quiet room (rooms in hospitals where they hide people who are likely going to receive bad news and they can smother the sights and sounds of grieving) with Jack and another family member, and my older son shared with me years later that his father kept muttering , ” she won’t survive this, she’s a goner, it’s just too much damage.”
Apparently to the point where my son snapped and screamed at his father that I would, in fact, survive. He pleaded with his father to stop saying those things he knew were not the truth.
As I was being put back together in a state of nothingness, that little sapling of mine was railing against strong wind, rain, lightning, locusts and the mighty oak, Jack!
You already know who was right and won that one, don’t you?