One Year Ago
Today marks the one year anniversary of “Tommy’s Accident” and the start to “Kate’s Year of Magic” (it’s a working title).
So much of my language this past year was centered around Tommy’s Accident.
Annie: “Where did we go for Bekah’s birthday dinner last year?”
Me: “I don’t know- I was in Chicago because of Tommy’s Accident.”
Anyone: “When did you become a doula?”
Me: “Well, I think I have been a doula my entire life, but it really began for me after I returned home from taking care of my brother in law after he was in a car accident.”
In almost every way, it was my worst nightmare. I got a phone call from my dad sometime mid morning (in my nightmare, it is nighttime when I get a call like this), which was strange because he would have been working. He was actually home sick from work- sinus infection I think- and he sounded terrible, which he would have whether he was sick or not because of the news he was about to give me.
“Tommy’s been in an accident. A bad one. He’s in the hospital. I don’t have a lot of information, but it’s not good. “
A note about me: I have gotten a phone call like this before, only it was much graver news, but I handled it in a similar fashion: by yelling “What?” and then “No!” as if I had misheard and then could change it with a word: NO. And then yelling it louder: NO! And maybe repeating it: NO! NO!
But nothing changes. I yelled for Buck. I start crying. I desperately want to get off the phone to call my sister; To blink and be back in Illinois with my sister; To stop time, and the truck that hit Tommy. To send back the words my dad has delivered.
But only one of those things happened.
I got off the phone with my dad and called Amy who is in the car with my mom, who had picked her up from the school she was teaching Kindergarden at (the same school she and I went to for 1st-8th grades), on their way to the hospital where Tommy was, in the Surgical ICU with a pressure monitor in his head to relieve the bleeding on his brain.
I don’t remember what I said to her, but I remember that she wasn’t crying. She was in shock. I stayed on the phone for as long as I could, but eventually they arrived at the hospital and I let her go, said “I love you” as hard as I could, and promised I would be there soon.
And I was- the next day. January 5th, 2011. I was terrified to leave LA. I was going by myself- Buck had to stay behind to work- and I cried almost the entire flight. There were so many nice people around me on the plane- one guy lent me a Sharpee so I could write in my journal. The lady next to me gave me a tissue and did me the courtesy of not asking me what was wrong. Funny how I will never forget those details- how fear and tragedy can burn things into your mind in a way that, for me, even the happiest moments of my life don’t always.
That month in Chicago- January 2011- changed my life forever. I had no idea that one of the scariest moments of my life would give birth to the path that I was meant to walk down and dedicate my life to. Who can predict these things?
I have had a lot of fear and anxiety on the lead up to this day- this anniversary. I have been afraid of reliving this and feeling these feelings. But a week ago when Buck and I were driving into Chicago to see our dear friends and beautiful Goddaughter, I said to him, “One year ago, we were doing this exact same thing. If we had known what was about to happen- that Tommy would make that left turn and that everything would change- would we do anything different?”
And the answer I wanted to say was, “YES! We would have hugged him for 24 hours straight, and never left the house, and not let him get in the car that morning!!!!” But that’s not the truth. Because life doesn’t work like that. You can pad your furniture, but you might still stub your toe on the padding and it will likely still hurt! You can stay in bed all day long (which is what I did for so many days in 2011 when I was sad and lost), but it doesn’t change anything. Life is still happening and we just need to keep moving through it, unafraid, and full of love for all things and beings around us.
And I am full of so much love and marvel for how magical this past year has turned out. Tommy’s recovery has inspired me to the core, and my sister’s dedication to him has guided me in my own exploration of what patience and compassion really look like. I have learned to be kind to myself and to open my heart totally so that the magic can continue to flow in and out, just as it should.