|What I can't lose|
"Okay, well then come in here."
We went, and through the course of check in, I find out our insurance has lapsed through one thing or another (auto-debit never went through...they never contacted us...whatever the case). Then it becomes clear, despite Christian's job (or because of it?), we can't actually afford our insurance premiums. This, thanks to our collected loans, and other responsibilities (which are small compared to most households, but that's all we can manage).
I have a melt down in the waiting room.
It ends up being okay. Only just. Christian takes meds. The swelling goes down more and more. The hives abate, for the most part.
I feel like something needs to change, but I can't seem to get any interviews for jobs I do apply for, that would make childcare possible. I can't sleep well, ransacking my mind for ways that I might actually be able to support us - paths that we could pursue that would actually make a difference for our family.
Fast forward to Sunday.
My son sticks a piece of a toy in his mouth and it gets stuck. It's awkward. It's hard to remove. He's freaking out. He's coughing. His face is turning purple. My mommy sense kicks in and I reach into his mouth and yank it out myself. He is shocked. He is horrified. He cries. He wants to nurse. There is no good place. My shirt is not really the best kind for this sort of thing. We're in the middle of the restaurant, completely exposed. Christian takes him for a walk. He comes back. He wants to stay cradled in my lap. He eats half a sweet potato fry.
He cries. He grabs at me, clearly wanting to nurse. I don't finish my lunch. Christian gets everything except our child, who I am carrying in my arms, across a huge parking lot. He's over 25 pounds, wriggling, kicking, crying, and all the while grabbing at my chest to nurse. I am just trying to keep him in the middle of my body so I don't throw my alignment off worse than it is.
We get to the car. It is hot. It is small. We cram into the back seat and miraculously he's able to latch. He gets distracted and starts playing with things. We relatch. He gets distracted. We relatch. I'm sweaty and cranky and still in shock from lunch. He gets distracted again, and I make an executive decision and put him into his car seat.
Christian declares he can't drive because of his meds. Fine. I get in the driver's seat. I'm not totally aware of how I'm still upset, but I do what I have to do. This is what I do everyday. I make it work. I check everything, I back up. The car directly behind me is backing up too. I stop. She keeps backing up, but there is no way she can move her car enough. I honk my horn. She bumps me.
I put the car in neutral and the brake on. I get out of the car and look at our bumper. Our car is over 10 years old. Hers is too. There are no dents. There are no scrapes. I see no marks on her car whatsoever, though ours has some old ones from something I can't recall.
"It was just one of those things. I looked left and you looked right," the woman says. I look at the cars again and nod. I'm upset, but no harm no foul.
There's a loud honk from behind me. I look over and there is a car. i stare the driver down. She motions as though she wants to get through - between the two cars who just had an accident. She doesn't smile at me. She doesn't wave or anything. I get into my car and this driver has the gall to drive right between our cars, before either one of us has time to move out of the way. I had visions of chasing her down, of beating her window, of taking my teenage carkeys along her freshly washed California Prius and giving her a nice cursive message to immortalize the occasion.
"Thanks you fucking bitch!" These are the words I thought because she didn't know everything I'd been through this weekend. She didn't realize I had visions of losing not only my husband and best friend, but also the fragile financial security I have. She didn't realize that I had visions of losing my son to a piece of irregularly shaped plastic just moments before. She didn't realize that I had just carried this upset, frightened little boy, wriggling, and crying, at over 25 pounds, the distance of several city blocks. She didn't realize that I had just crammed into my back seat, so that same frightened little boy, could feel an ounce of comfort before being strapped down so he could be transported safely away. She didn't realize all those things, but she did see my car bumper get tapped.
I don't know what that Prius driver had going on in her own life, but I think she could have managed a few seconds wait time to allow a young mother a little less stress to an already stressful event.
So when I did finally get my car going, and make my way out of the parking lot and on to surface street, it was amidst utterly raw weeping. Christian offered to take the wheel, but I refused. I refused in part because I did not want to move from that spot. I did not want to get out of the car. I could not take my hands from the wheel, so instead, I wept. I sobbed until my throat hurt - until the sound was impossible, until it refused to claw from my throat. The tears continued to flow from my swollen eyes. I would sniff. I would take a few gasping breaths, and this was enough to allow that wracking sound from my throat again.
I cried so hard, so long, I started to cough. I started to choke. I calmed enough to breathe. I wept some more. I wept the entire drive to my in-laws' house.
"If anyone makes any kind of comment to me, I cannot be held responsible for what I will say back. I cannot!" I said as I turned down their street. Christian nodded.
"Okay. I understand. Just go straight to the guest room. It's fine."
I parked the car. I wiped salt from my cheeks - just salt tracks because of the drought. I got out, not looking back, not thinking. I went straight to the guest room where our son takes his nap. Christian laid him down beside me, whimpering and half asleep from the car ride.
As I lay there, nursing my sleepy toddler, I breathed deeply, my limbs trembling.
I can't handle anything else. I can't. I need a break - I need to catch a break. I don't have anything left. No patience. No resources. No stamina. I am running on empty. I am bare. I am raw. I don't know what I will do if something else happens. I don't know what else I can do besides what I am doing.
So I write this, raising my hands up, empty and asking...help me.