Man oh man, I do hope that what they say about things happening in threes really is an old wives’ tale, otherwise I will be finding myself permanently adopting the ‘brace’ position.
Thursday morning. Eleven am. Cassidy has just awoken from his nap. I have finally achieved the unthinkable – admittedly that is at this point, ANYTHING – in the form of a completed article to submit to a magazine. I am just about to pop the kettle on for a congratulatory cup of chai when…
I pick up my phone. It’s Tim. Checking in on me. Sweet.
“Hey babe,” I say.
“Hey, I’m here, can you hear me?” I pace the house, trying to find better reception.
Another pause. I realise his breath is heavy. In fact, he seems to struggle to get words out, but when he finally does, they are simply the following: “So I’m okay…”
My heart stops.
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” another beat, “I’m in hospital.”
“WHAT? WHAT? What’s happened?”
“Uh, chest pains and a racing heart.”
“Oh my God, are you alright?”
“I think so. I have to go.”
“Wait, wait, which hospital? I’ll be there. I’ll get there. Just let me work this out and I’ll be there, okay?” (Note: I’m still not driving.)
With a few rushed details, he hangs up and I find myself doing the absolute cliché thing of standing there with mouth agape, just staring at the phone.
Is this some sort of cosmic joke? First the car acciden t and now this? WHAT?
I call my sister-in-law, who says she’ll be at my place in half an hour and then utters the calm words I need to hear “Let’s just get down there, see what’s happening and we’ll take it from there.” I hang up, pack a few things into a bag and proceed to watch the clock. Three minutes have passed. Shit.
I have to talk to somebody. I have to talk to somebody. I have to talk to somebody.
I call my sister Ang. “Should I come up? Because if you need me there I can totally come up.”
“I just don’t know, I have no idea what’s going on, I have no idea how serious it is, I don’t know anything, I’m just trying not to freak the hell out here, I don’t want to get you up here if it all turns out to be nothing but then if it is…oh gees Ang, I just cannot make any decisions right now…”
“Just relax,” she says. Yes, yes. Yes.
We hang up, then almost immediately she calls me back. “Jemma and I are coming up.”
I look at the clock. Still at least another twenty minutes before Mary gets here.
Do I have everything I need? Yes. Pack a few books for him. Good idea. Anything else? Take your phone charger. Check. Food for Cass? Got it.
I begin to fidget, pace and then proceed to the logical next step of tidying up the house like a woman possessed. As I do so a tirade of thoughts flow.
Okay, what if you’re there for hours, what will you do with Cassidy? Don’t get ahead of yourself, Mary’s with you, Ang is coming up, they’ll help you figure it out. Oh my God, what if this is it? What were the last words I said to him? Did I tell him I love him this morning?
I quickly send him a text: “Just breathe babe. I love you. I’m coming.”
I keep cleaning.
What on earth will I do if he dies? How on earth would I do it? The kids? Stop it, stop it, you’re being ridiculous. You have no idea what’s happening. Just calm down, stop thinking about it and just get there.
One step at a time.
It’s around this point that my phone rings again.
It’s Tim’s parents. Do they know? How on earth could they know this quickly?
“Hi Jen,” says his Mum cheerfully, “we’re up the Coast looking at a unit today and have a meal to drop in to you, would now be a good time to do it?”
It’s then that I finally give complete voice to my total panic.
“Tim’s in the hospital, I just got the call, the ambulance took him there, they’re not sure what’s going on, I have no idea what’s happening, I’m sorry I’m so frazzled, thanks for the meal, I’m about to head to the hospital but I can just leave a key out or something if you like, the place is a complete mess, sorry about that, maybe I should just get there and then I can call you….”
We hang up. Mary arrives. We get to the hospital. She minds Cassidy in the waiting room while I go in to see my husband.
And at that moment, passing through the all-too-recently-familiar doors of an emergency department, something amazing happens.
My panic is overtaken by a sense of almost robotic calm; a calm which, as it turns out, will follow me throughout the ensuing days of cardiologist’s tests, monitoring, Tim being admitted for the weekend, and juggling children in the haze of my already-fresh trauma of the accident.
I suspect it’s a coping mechanism – like my body just cannot possibly process any more stress at this point, namely because it, like a well-worn credit card, is simply maxxed out.
The downside of this is that I know somewhere in there, is a tidal wave of emotion ready to hit at some future moment.
The upside: for the moment, and on reflection obviously that being the moment I actually need it the most, I am remarkably, almost ridiculously…CALM.