Moving has been the start of an absolute whirlwind of activity – work activity, social activity, nesting activity, etc etc. It’s to the point where I frequently say I don’t have time for something and I mean it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it takes some getting used to for sure. There is work stuff and work stuff and work stuff, poker and pool and volleyball and karaoke and picnics and dinners out and kids’ birthday parties and the dog park and seriously, I have had barely any idle time since we came crashing into this pretty new town on which I currently have a dreamy and desperate crush. That was kind of the whole point of moving, to have Stuff to Do, but holy crap, I really had no idea we’d have this much Stuff to Do. It’s pretty great.
So last Tuesday I found myself with a rare couple of hours to myself with absolutely! nothing! planned! and somehow I spent a great deal of that time making a fatter version of myself for Rock Band. We’re really into Rock Band, see, and lately it had been bugging me that my little rocker girl was just way too skinny. Sure, I’d like to be skinnier but the fact is that I’m not, and plus my little rocker girl had no boobs. So I made a new one, and I made her fatter, big and curvy and luscious. And then I had to make some money to buy some better rock clothes, so I queued up a song list of full chick rock because Seth wasn’t home to make me do boy songs, woo! and we were off to the races.
How come I’m always doing something really loud when bad news comes in on the phone? Seriously.
So my cell phone rang, and I ignored it, because I was way too busy wailing on “Spiderwebs.” Seriously! That’s ironic, right? So then our newly-installed, can’t-quite-remember-how-to-use-it landline rang, and it was such a foreign concept to have a landline ringing that I ignored it for a second, and then I was all like, “A LIKELY STOOOOOOOOOOORY BUT LEAVE A MESSAGE AND I’LL CALL YOU BACK,” and then it kept ringing and I thought, hmm, I’d better get that. So I paused the game and dove across the couch to snag the non-caller-ID-enabled corded $5 cheapie phone and one of my sisters was on the line, breathless, scared and sad.
“Ginny called and Dad’s in the hospital and Mom’s in Richmond and it’s something with his heart and I don’t know what to do I’m supposed to teach a class in fifteen minutes and what’s going on? Do you know what’s going on?”
I was too far away. I was useless, utterly useless and helpless and impotent. All I could do is work the phones, so that’s what I did. I called Mom in Richmond, I called Ginny at the hospital, I called Sammi in class, I called Jamie in Westover. I got all the data I could and tried to calmly relay it and help everyone feel calm and empowered and then I made the rounds again, sitting hours away on my new kitchen counter with that crappy phone in my hand.
And as my mother blamed her business travel and Ginny paced the hospital halls and Sammi and Jamie worried separately then together, I sat on that counter and blamed myself. I have placed so much of my confidence in my ability to know what to do, to help my family when they need it, to help with planning and staying calm and details and logic and order, and due to what seemed like a completely selfish decision, I was sitting on a kitchen counter three hours away and there was, quite literally, nothing else I could do. I felt awful. I felt like I had abandoned my family.
Dad definitely had a heart attack. His main coronary artery had a 90% blockage, and two other arteries are also blocked. Ginny and the hospital staff saved his life. I sat on the kitchen counter and made useless phone calls, probably more for my own peace of mind than for anyone else’s. He had an angioplasty, they used a stent to open the blockage, he spent a couple of days in the hospital, and now he’s at home. I’ve talked to him a few times and he sounds great, says he feels twenty years younger. They will be scheduling a double bypass surgery for the other blockages in a few weeks.
Everyone else went home, but I haven’t yet. I’m so torn because I love them and want to be with them, but I have no time off from my job yet, I’m scheduled up to my eyeballs for the next few weeks (mostly work, but other things too), and it feels like there’s nothing for me to do. I’m getting conflicting messages about whether I should be there and it’s hard, because I’m far enough away that the trip is kind of a big deal, but not so far that it’s unreasonable. And yet, though I’m calling a lot and checking in and thinking about them constantly, I haven’t gone. Instead I sit here feeling useless and making excuses.