We were driving home from dinner last night, just me and R. I found myself…
I don't cry, or at least not much. I've shed more tears in the past 4 months than the better part of my entire life. Sunday ended with an unexpected few tears appearing, while we were out for dinner with friends. It had been a particularly rough few days involving an intense yearning for parts of our "pre-July 7th" life that we lost, and a sense of profoundly missing Ben and what we had, including our love and relationships with close friends that, always, involved Ben. I woke up this morning with the same core sadness.
After the girls were safely at school and Kyle on an errand in Newtown, I sat down on the couch to listen to country music with headphones (a new post-July 7th quirk of mine) and write. Deep in thought, I realized I needed a book that I'd left on the kitchen table. Jumping up, computer in hand, I started walking, not realizing my headphones were still connected to my iPhone on the couch. As I felt the tug of the cord, my balance altered, foot with socks on slippery hardwood floors, I took a step back to try to keep my iPhone from falling, landed on my heel, and started slipping.
You only have a second. And, in that second, my mind scanned so many things to make the "decision," which was more like instinct. I fell, trying to protect my computer, not letting go to brace myself with my hand and CRACK. Yes, I heard a loud crack and saw the flash of light that I'm assuming is a brain signal produced from intense pain.
Its interesting how you really do assess your body after a fall. I'd felt the jolt radiate up my spine, so I made sure I could feel and move everything. The very next thought was like a "life review" but of the future. I saw myself in the bright, crisp sunlight with Kyle, the girls and our golden retriever puppy, running and hiking on vast trails, breathing in the peace of fresh air. Blue, clouds, breeze. The words that ran like a script across my mind: Nooooo...if I've broken something or have a compression fracture in my spine, I can't do THAT for a very long time. I NEED to do that. But, if I did break something serious, I'll be okay. I'll get through.
Then, my often-used catch-all word, SERIOUSLY? Did this really just happen?
Next, I mentally scanned through friends to call. Who is closest? Not at work? Who don't I mind seeing me flat on the floor? Then comes the embarrassing call to 911, after we both figure out I can't sit in a car to get to the ER. I felt like saying "I've fallen and I can't get up!" but resisted, thinking humor may not be appropriate at that point. My friend arrived before the paramedics, bless her heart. I'm fairly certain the first thing I said was "You CANNOT laugh at me!"
The paramedic informed us he would be driving me to Danbury Hospital because it was closer and less of a bumpy ride considering my pain level. My friend immediately said "Linds, is that a good idea? No, let's do Norwalk." We ended up on the way to Danbury, since in my mind, "I'm fine, I can handle anything, noooo woorrrrieeesss.....," plus my bum really hurt! The paramedic asked what was wrong with this hospital. I answered point blank (I've found things tend to be easier that way these days) because my son died this summer and we took him there. He went on to ask How?, to which I responded We're THE Ridgefield family. In my head, Yes, I'm THAT mom.
When he asked how I fell, I started to methodically dissect the event. Then, I began crying, chin quivering, tears streaming - the whole shebang. I didn't put my hand out to brace myself because I couldn't drop the computer and risk it breaking. All my pictures and videos of Ben are on my computer! I feel so stupid, but I couldn't drop it! I didn't care what I broke..... [Yes, I'm sure we've backed up everything. But, they are just that - "back-ups." I need three or four back-ups. If I break one, that's one less back-up I have.]
He reassured me I wasn't stupid and, I'm sure, realized he'd gotten himself into more than just a normal post-fall drive to the ER. Then, I joked around a bit, met my friends and husband at the ER (which thankfully was brand new, with no memories or similarity to the July ER), made a lot of fun of myself and allowed them to do the same, and was discharged by noon. Diagnosis: No pelvic, spine or hip involvement, possible fracture of the coccyx, i.e. tailbone, or bad bruise (no x-rays because who needs radiation if the result won't change treatment). Treatment - rest and see how soon it gets better. 2 week = bruise; 2 months = fracture. Another friend faithfully bought me the obligatory foam donut, and we were all set. I had no shoes, but found eating at Chipotle with only hospital socks and a bright yellow donut oddly not embarrassing. Its all relative these days.
So, what in the world did I learn from today?
First, I don't have Ben physically anymore, but he is spiritually around me every day. I have memories and I have...pictures and videos. As my mind's eye fades, I need the pictures to trigger more intense connections with him. More vivid memories to get me through. And, I'd risk a broken bone to save those. I'd instinctively reached back to try to stop my iPhone full of over 2,000 pictures from crashing to the floor (though unsuccessfully), and I'd refused to let go of the computer in the fall.
Second, I was reminded that, though things can change for the worse, they can change for the better too. I still have sister friends, a few which I may not have had otherwise, and I'm willing to let them see me lying flat on the floor, embarrassed. And, those friends are still able to make me laugh and willing to buy foam donuts for me.
Life can be different, but still good. And its so very much worth it.