Direct Impact

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I enjoy experimenting with writing. As part of spring-cleaning my computer files, you know: e-mails, photos, word documents from years back, I came upon a piece I wrote in the spring of 2014. It feels awkward to post this “non blog” sort of writing. It feels risky, too intimate, for a blog. Still, I’m doing it. Tossing it out, so to speak.

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Some time ago, once, once I heard or read or was told, exactly when I don’t recall, I may have been a child or I may have been a maiden, though it’s possible and likely I was married and a mother, no matter, at one time it was put into my mind or I absorbed somehow that; if you find out or it becomes that you know your husband is dead, take the sheets off your bed right away. Take the sheets off the bed and fold them, place them in a plastic bag, tuck them away for later. Later you will want the smell of the two of you, the smell of your bodies together. You will need it

Standing beside the bed     it’s a glorious day! standing, ready to change the sheets, as I do every Wednesday, and it came to me, it came in the body first, not a chill or anything familiar, more a wavering, a woozy swirl with prickle skin, and the thought; why am I thinking this thought? don’t change the sheets. something is wrong, a shift in the senses, a difference, don’t change the sheets. oh don’t be dramatic, it’s a glorious day.

he said, “I’ll be home in a flash.  just up the hill and back,   give me a kiss, it’s a glorious day.”

sheets   don’t   something is wrong   don’t be ridiculous, oh, what to do? don’t change the sheets, watch out the window    I’ll see him,
see him coming, he’s    something is wrong  who knows what? I, I   feel wrong.

be okay   look out the window, open the door, go to the street, look around, can I call him? heart calling      I can call him on his cell phone, of course, voicemail: I’m worried! where are you?    keep calling Answer the phone! text: I’m worried. heart searching      Don’t be silly, I can’t call the police out of the blue, out of a horrible feeling something is wrong. It’s getting weird, slipping, this has to stop, call the police hello I think something is wrong he’s not back I’m worried.

looking out the window. I demand to see him! coming up to the gate, a glorious day…he should be back, maybe something happened.  this can’t be happening    wait, am I making this up? Is this really happening?   Wait?      yes I’ll   wait
while you check. brain-hmmm  body  light    edge
edge of the abyss hold hold on wait

Yes, yes I’m by myself, why? what’s wrong? an accident NO NO NO my god what are you saying? my god please NO   an accident   oh please please no I’m begging. help. help.
take a breath, right I need to breathe   breathe   I should control myself   where should I go? yes yes I know that place. be there in seconds, oh no, stop. I can’t just appear there, my body has rules,     it must get off the floor. White dishtowel in my face,   I’m sobbing,  can’t help it    get off the floor   stand up   get in the car
it’s Arlene’s car           in Arlene’s car and she is driving.
White dishtowel in my face   can’t help crying,  an accident no no no, let’s just get there,  let’s find parking.           and get there and know.   KNOW WHAT?   I must get a grip,          I must say my name, his name. where? where is he? What should I do? sit, sit in the special room and wait wait wait and someone will come… White dishtowel in my face please   anyone    stop this         wait

Listen, listen and see the two people, official people, talking. What? What are you saying? If you are going to say something horrible say it right now! say it immediately!
He is alive. almost-dead-alive,  it’s very serious, very serious, he is alive. White dishtowel in my face. words words words ventilator cardiac event broken broken broken lung spine very serious, critical. Live?

oh, I must leave our we-body.

expect to survive. concussion not breathing. be brave. be strong. Breathe. White dishtowel in my face. Where is he?    see him now

time, in the abyss, far deep very dark, searching, something’s wrong, where is he? White dishtowel in my face    I’m hiding. I can’t face this. What’s going to happen? he’s so hurt , very hurt and not breathing and not moving. dusky. Ventilator hissing hiss beep beep hiss beep beep hiss he’s not moving he’s not breathing the machine is keeping him alive  Hiss beep beep hiss ALARM ALARM hiss beep HELP.
a coma! you made him in a coma? an induced coma. his heart his lungs his head his body.      what happened ? how did this happen!? Nothing is certain   he will survive?   nothing ever certain.
Call our son? Are you saying our son should come immediately. he’s seven thousand miles away. he has to fly here. there are rules.  hours needed. White dishtowel in my face. WHAT? how could this happen why isn’t he breathing?
He’s alone. I’m here I’m here. he’s frightened alone in a coma                 love him. help him.

fluorescent lights, machines, people, words, body hurt. critical.   Where is he?     I can’t feel him. This can’t be real. let us out!  calm down  breathe  he’s not breathing he’s all tubes and machines. he’s in a coma, broken. this is horrific, must stop, stop now!
White dishtowel in my face, I’m floating      as are you. we are floating. mere specks in the swirling cosmos.

The Author

Quintessential Berkeley Homemaker

6 Comments

  1. Fran says

    LJ thank you for publishing this. Of course I found out about the accident after he was already on the mend but I was thinking of it when I read about that poor woman Meg Schwarzman. It sounds like she’ll be all right, eventually.

    Like

  2. filiz says

    This takes me back to that dark day LJ.. my heart is still hurting thinking about it right now.. life is so precious and time is slippery. You both have courageous hearts and souls.. love you guys tons! Filiz

    Like

  3. Lisa says

    this is extraordinary..incredible bravery and strength to go through it and to share it. thank you

    Like

  4. Elinor Gale says

    This is amazing, LJ. I’m so glad you shared it with us. It literally took my breath away.

    Like

  5. Colleen says

    LJ
    I learned of this terrible ordeal you went through well into recovery, and I know it’s been a very long haul for you both. But reading this- the fresh feelings, shock, horror, fear and denial all intermixed, brings the shock into my psyche, and of course my own experience- alike but not alike.
    I wish I’d heard that adage about sheets- I would have so loved to have that smell forever, or at least a long time.
    Beautiful writing, thank you for sharing this intimate piece. Very eloquently expressed.

    Like

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