Recently, something happened that has made me think…a lot. In fact, it really got under my skin. I’ve been considering things a lot in the wake of the event.
How it all began:
My day started out much like my days always do. My husband got up about half an hour before I did. When I got up, I was a little grumpy. It had been raining overnight, and the dog had been acting strange. She had woken me up at 4 am. I tried letting her out, but when I opened the door, she didn’t want to go. She then followed me into the restroom and growl-talked (those of you with dogs will understand what I mean) to me. After I’d finished in the restroom and started back to bed, she reclaimed her nightly spot on the couch and laid down. I got a drink of water, and headed back to bed, hoping I’d be able to get back to sleep in the 2 hours I had left. As I laid back down, here came Patch, running back into our room, growling and squeaking…and waking up Baby.
I fed Baby and put her back down to sleep, but was faced with less than an hour left before I knew I’d have to be up and ready for the day.
I was irritated with the dog, and seriously grumpy to start my Monday. Stubbornly, I lay in bed, seething and rebelliously pretending I still had enough time to go back to sleep while my husband got up to start his day.
Just as he was going out to tend to the animals, I got up, emerged from our room, and was angrily stalking towards the shower. He noticed, and made a little joke about my being grumpy…which almost immediately diffused the situation. I was still mad at the dog, and I was still grumpy, but he had made me smile. I would be able to get myself back under control.
Andrew went off to take care of the animals, and I wearily shuffled off to the shower where I managed to wake up a little.
By the time Andrew headed out to work, I was still feeling a little “off”, but functional. We joked a little more about my being grumpy as we were saying goodbye for the day, and both laughing about it.
From there, our day here at home progressed normally. It was Monday, so the kids were all off our routine from the weekend…and there was occasional fussing about an assignment, but nothing out of the ordinary.
After breakfast, I sent Andrew a message to tell him that we needed milk and a prescription picked up before he came home…I wasn’t really expecting an answer, so it came as no surprise that I didn’t get one.
A couple of hours went by. We were hard at work. Soon after lunch, Baby started fussing, right on schedule at about 1:15. Time for her afternoon nap! I gave instructions to the other kids as to how they should use their time while I put Baby to bed. Then, I brought Baby in to our room to feed her before she went to sleep.
I often do a little internet surfing to make sure I don’t fall asleep while I’m nursing Baby before her nap. It’s dark, it’s quiet, I have to sit still. If I don’t have something to keep me from it, we’re both fast asleep! Then I wake up an hour later, while the older kids have been doing who knows what in my absence, and I have a crick in my neck from sleeping while sitting up. It’s just not good. So…I play internet.
This particular afternoon, I opened up my laptop and checked my email…nothing of consequence. Then, I headed on over to KBTX, the local news station’s website to check on the weather. It had been raining off and on all day, and I wanted to check the radar. But, I never made it.
My heart stopped when I saw the top story on the KBTX homepage. There was a picture of a small champagne-colored SUV, smashed beyond recognition. The headline underneath read, “Fatal car accident this morning on Highway 21.”
I couldn’t breathe.
Andrew drives to work on Highway 21 every morning in a small, champagne-colored SUV. But the one in the picture was in such bad shape that I just couldn’t tell if it was his or not! I was trying to stay calm so I wouldn’t upset Baby. I slowly managed to click on the link to the story, desperately hoping that it was the wrong place on Highway 21.
There wasn’t much more information. But, it did tell me where on Highway 21…and it was not the wrong place. My husband drives that stretch every single day.
Panic set in.
I realized I had to calm down so I could get Baby down for a nap. I couldn’t do anything. There were rocks in the bottom of my stomach the whole time she nursed. She took 22 minutes. It was all I could think about the whole time.
“What if it was him?”
“There are thousands of SUVs that color.”
“He should have been at work already. But how long did it take the news station to post the story? It didn’t say what time it happened.”
“I texted him a while ago. He hasn’t answered. What if he’s dead on the side of the road and I’m sitting here texting him about milk, and not thinking about something important?”
“It can’t be him! It can’t be him! Please, Dear Lord, don’t let it be him!”
I laid Baby down in her crib and quietly left the room. For once, she didn’t scream when I put her down. I walked across the living room to get my phone. The older kids were in the kitchen, washing the dishes we’d used at lunch. I picked up my phone just as I received a message…
Was it him?
It was from Andrew.
“Thank you, Lord!”
He wasn’t dead on the side of the road. He said he thought there were still a few gallons of milk in the garage refrigerator, and asked if we had to have the prescription that day, or if it could wait for a day or two.
“Really? I’ve just been through the longest 22 minutes in my life! You’re worried about milk!?!”
But then I came back to reality with a jolt. He had not been here during my 22 minute panic attack. He probably hadn’t been on the internet all day, so it was unlikely he had even seen the story. Andrew was working…blissfully unaware of the emotional roller coaster from which I had just disembarked.
I checked the outside refrigerator…no milk. So I answered his message, and went on with life.
I talked to him on the phone a little while afterward and told him all about the incident. He looked on the news page and agreed that it did, in fact, look a lot like his car. But, the back window (one of the only things left intact) wasn’t the right shape.
Apparently, I need to pay more attention to back windows.
Often, when I’m faced with a scenario, I have a tendency to jump to the worst possible conclusion…just as I did in this case. I convinced myself that my husband was gone in an amazingly short period of time. It was only afterward, however, that I started to consider what it might have meant to our family if something like that were to happen.
What if my husband weren’t here anymore? What if my children lost their dad?
I know he would be in a better place. I have no doubt of that. But, the selfish part of me keeps reminding me how much we would miss him. He does so much.
My husband keeps this family moving. He works hard to make money to provide to us. Then, he comes home and works hard to grow food to provide for us. Then, he comes inside and often cooks dinner and takes care of the kids while I put Baby to bed each evening.
What would we do without him?
I know we’d find a way to manage…but, how?
Our kids would have to grow up without their dad.
This evening, as I sit here and finish writing this post, I have been alone all day and all evening with the kids (though, in a house full of 5 kids, can one ever really be “alone”?). Andrew had a rare evening when he had to stay at work late into the evening playing with NMR spectra…extra points if you know what that is! I often don’t realize or appreciate how much he does to help our family. But, when he’s gone, it really hits me full force. I didn’t manage to finish getting all the kids in bed until after 10 tonight. It turns out you can’t cook dinner and nurse a baby to sleep at the same time. I need him here to make things run smoothly.
I need him because I need him. He’s my husband…the father of my children.
Our kids need him.
We’d be lost without him.
My heart aches for the family that did lose someone that day.