The First Phone Call:
To my closest friend, Sheree.
“Well, hey there” Sheree says in an upbeat, chipper voice as she answers my call that day. This is always her regular greeting to me when on the phone.
“What’s wrong?” she says in a quiet, strained voice.
She knew. She knew by my soft, brief greeting that is far outside my norm when talking to her. She felt the fear I was trying to keep under control. She knew how bad things were without me saying a word.
The Second Phone Call:
To Terry’s parents, Ron and Mary Jo.
As I dialed the number I realized that the speedometer on the Edge read 62 MPH. It was a 45 MPH zone. As much as I needed to be with him, I refused to be the reason someone else needed to see a loved one in ICU tonight. The cruise control was clicked down to 51 MPH.
“Hey, Pop. It’s Michele”, I say in a low voice, trying to sound more confident than I felt.
“Oh!” He is surprised because it is normally Terry or Lex who call the house in New Jersey. I sense Terry’s father is genuinely surprised to hear from me.
I am relieved it is him who answers the phone. He is a tough, six-foot-four Army veteran. We have always gotten along well and have a mutual respect for one another. I can hear my mother in law, Mary Jo, talking in the background. She has been fighting health issues for many years. She is even tougher than Pop but her health is not as good and I worry this phone call will send her reeling.
“Hey, Pop-I have to tell you something.” I suck in a deep breath and hold back the tears. I know they will take their cue from the way I act. If I’m hysterical, it will send the rest of the family into a tailspin. “Pop, it’s Terry. He was in an accident –on the bike.”
I honestly do not remember what his reply was. This call was so painful for me. Telling parents that their youngest son was almost killed less than an hour ago literally tore my heart out. I tell them I will call back in an hour with more details. I will know more then, I say. We hang up.
The Third Phone Call:
To our sixteen year-old daughter, Lexi.
Text from home sent before I got in the car: CALL ME ASAP
I call her phone. Three times. The call goes to voice mail. She is getting her senior pictures done and probably does not have her phone on her. I call anyway because I need something to do besides drive blindly down a pothole infested road at this moment.
Text from a stop sign on the road: HELLO???
Nothing again. This is wrong I know. I should not be texting from behind the wheel but this is truly an emergency. Doesn’t make it right.
I check my speed again and try to breathe. I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath. Pick up the phone, I will her. It doesn’t work.
(ten minutes later)
My phone rings that funny tone I loaded for only her calls. It usually makes me smile. but not today.
“Hey, Mom! We were doing our pictures by an old red barn. It is so cool. You would LOVE it! It is old and run down but totally something you would like. I can’t wait to see the pics.”
I let her ramble on a bit. She is nearly breathless with delight. I don’t want to end her pure joy at this moment. I wonder if either of us will ever feel happy again.
“Hi, Honey. I need to tell you something. It’s not good.”
Silence. She is waiting.
“Daddy was in an accident. On his bike….”
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????” she screams into the receiver. “ARE YOU &*$#@!^ KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?!?!” she chokes out.
“No, honey. I would never kid you about something like this. He’s hurt and I really don’t know how badly. They say he is talking but can’t remember what year it is. I’m on my way to the hospital now. Do not come here. I will call you when I know more. Promise you will not come here.” I say this with false bravado.
She needs me now. I can’t fall apart. I’m pretending I’m in charge of the situation even when it could not be further from the truth. She needs to know everything will be fine even though I have never been so afraid in my while life. ”He will be OK ,” I lie because I have no idea if it’s true or not. I lie because I have to save her especially if I am losing him.
“Yup” she says to me. It is her classic ‘I don’t want to listen but I will’ voice. ‘
“OK. Love you…”
“Love you too, Mom…Let me know soon, OK.
“OK” “Promise?” she sobs.
“I promise.” At this moment I will promise her anything. Maybe it will save us all if I do.