How do you call someone and tell them their child has died? What do you do before you pick up the phone and dial the number? Do you tell a friend? Do you cry ~ just a little bit? Do you wish for (or even have) a shot of booze?
Does it matter to you that the person receiving the call is in a time zone 14 hours away? Did you do the calculations and realize that your call will most likely awaken someone from a deep peaceful sleep? That the time 4:41 am will be forever imprinted on the brain of whomever answers your call?
Did you know you’d have to make calls like these when you applied for the job? Does it balance out? Just a few tough calls compared to all the amazing places where you can live and work? Your call changed my life forever. Did it change yours?
They give you a script, right? It’s not something you “freestyle” saying what comes to mind at the moment…. I wonder, now, how many calls you have made, how many before mine? Perhaps you wonder, now, how many calls like mine are yet to come in your life?
Did you even think about me? How I might react? Did you think I would scream? Curse? Wail? Pound my fists? Rage in anger at you, at God, at the Universe? Did you think about who I would have to tell? I had to wake my husband and my daughter to tell each of them. I also called my mom, sister and niece and pseudo son in law. None of it was easy. I actually used texting to tell a whole bunch of people. How crazy is that…but there is only so much heartbreaking one can do when her heart is already breaking.
Do you ever think of me now? I know you did when you got my thank you card. Yes, I sent one. I asked Lara if it would be appropriate to write to you and to acknowledge how hard I know it must have been to make that call. How much that part of your job takes out of you. You’ll never know that Lara started a job like yours the very day before Cameron died. That was my first thought when you introduced yourself – that someday Lara might have to make a call like that. In fact, it’s almost certain she will. Death of an American citizen abroad is handled by the Embassy.
I think of you more than you realize. I repeat your name sometimes, silently to myself. I can hear your voice introducing yourself, telling me where you were calling from and then why you were calling. Oh that word why. It screams at me sometimes. When I hear it in my head, it isn’t said in a quiet plaintive voice – it is loud, ugly and demanding of my attention. WHY? WHY? WHY? Ugly and demanding and relentless, and shrill, and persistently distracting. When it nags at me, it brings me to the edge over and over again.
Should I choose to let it, WHY? could be my constant companion. My “other.” My reason for being. I could chase WHY? down so many roads. It could lead me so many places. Why her? Why then? Why there? Why that day? Why that way? Why did it happen? Why did things go so wrong?
I don’t want “why” to take over my life, my brain, my reason for being. I don’t want it to steal my vitality, to eviscerate my heart. I want to be able to live in the moment, to still take pleasure in simple things. I don’t want to be tormented by things I can’t understand, things I can’t change. I don’t want to be destroyed by such a small, simple word.
I also know I don’t want to be you, making those calls but then again, you’d never want to be me.