I’m a strong girl, friends. Independent, resourceful, and generally optimistic. I’ve done sweeping seasons of challenging circumstances where you hunker down for months of resilience and put a therapist on speed dial.
This week was different, though. This week was a series of days filled with unfortunate events that finally sent me up and over the peak of sanity.
Let me set the stage: I’m single parenting four kids. After a layoff last fall, my husband took a job in California and started work there in January with family plans to re-locate after the school year winds down. I co-created and co-agreed on this plan of action.
Enter the Polar Vortex winter of 2014. Since January 1, school has been called off FIVE days for extreme cold and/or snow. As of Sunday, the metro area had registered the most days below zero in 32 years; and the 13th longest stretch of consecutive subzero low temperatures. Our Snow Blower is broken.
I could stop right there and I know you’d understand.
My husband was in town last weekend for 3 days. It was wonderful. We went out to dinner. He changed lightbulbs, pounded things in, walked the dog, and drove kids places. Then he left on Monday.
On Tuesday, I took my child for his second attempt at his driver’s test which ended with a hope that “the third time will be the charm.” (sad face).
That night, I drove to the Varsity basketball game with my 10-year-old in tow. Two minutes from our destination high school, I was following my GPS instructions to make a U-turn at the light. That was going fine until a truck plowed into me 90% into my U-Turn, taking out my front right bumper and headlight. A truck driven by an off-duty policeman no less. I got out of the car and he asked me why I did that, and I asked him where he came from. Apparently he turned into traffic from a restaurant parking lot that I couldn’t see behind the 18 foot high snowbanks. The insurance company tells me it’s my fault because I was making the U Turn. The cop reminded me on the scene not to admit fault, and he didn’t have his insurance card with him. He did show me his shiny badge though.
As we are driving away from the scene, my son says, “I’m glad Dad has a good job.” I don’t explore his logic.
Abra Auto Body tells me they can fix my car in March sometime. And you need a headlight to take a driver’s test.
On Wednesday night, my 12-year-old daughter joins me and the dog in bed at 11:00pm to tell me she is certain she has a bladder infection and isn’t sure she can endure it through the night. I jump online to look up 24-hour-care clinics and find none. The word Emergency Room sends her into a teary heap. I offer Tylenol, a heating pad and prayer. It seems to work and she sleeps.
My 16-year-old son pops into my room to tell me he prayed for me at Youth Group that night. For my strength. I get teary.
Thursday we go to the doctor, first thing. Bladder infection confirmed by Target Clinic. “We will have your prescription in 10 minutes,” they tell me. Except they don’t because no pharmacy within 10 miles seems to be in stock of this antibiotic. So they find it for me at a Walgreens in a questionable part of town.
I drop said daughter at school and go on search of medicine. This is when the blizzard starts and continues to snow for the ensuing 24 hours, dumping 12 inches of new snow. Our snow blower didn’t fix itself this week. But my delightful neighbor boy loves to plow anything in sight and came over to do our driveway. I ran out in my pajamas, grabbed his face and kissed him. On the cheek.
My high school friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Highly treatable they tell her.
My new cute red glasses come in. I can now see far away reallllly well. And yes, I was wearing them during the U-Turn.
I have therapy for my sore hip. JC tells me she thinks my hip pain is coming from tight neck muscles. And proceeds to massage my neck for two hours. I’m delighted she cares about me so much even though I am paying her to care.
I pay Mark, the Hearth Master, to fix my gas fireplace after 3 years of not working.
On Friday, school is called off because of the blizzard. Basketball games are called off. By lunchtime, I decide that I will attempt a trip to the bank and to Target. So I’m waiting at the stop light to turn into the Target parking lot.
And a guy plows into me from behind. In my other car. Two cars smashed within three days. We pull into Home Depot and we both get out to exchange information. He tells me he has never been in an accident until today. An accident virgin until he met me. Super.
He drives away and I have his name, phone number and insurance information on Post it notes all over my dashboard. I put my head on my steering wheel and cry.
My daughter is supposed to get in a car with her basketball team in one hour to drive to Rochester, MN for a tournament. I decide in that moment that she is not going. I don’t care if I’m disappointing anyone. Sorry folks, this pity party is mine alone right now.
I don’t want to be consoled by my husband. Only a Winter-weary Minnesotan will do right now. Not picky on age or gender.
I start texting people who love me telling them the latest. They swoop in with care. One takes my dog for a play date. Two others take my kids for sleepovers. My girlfriend drives me to Saturday’s basketball game. And invites me out to dinner with a group of her friends from high school. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
At dinner, we play a game. “Tell a story from the week and we decide if it’s true or false.”
Me: “I got in two car accidents this week, one with an off duty police officer. The other with a chain-smoking, accident virgin.”
Them: “We would say false,” they explain, “but something like that can only be true.”
It’s Sunday now. The sun is shining. And I’m drinking coffee next to my gas fireplace. All is calm and all is bright. I slept for 9 hours.My kids are alive. My cars are drivable. My husband is employed. I am loved.
Hello New Week, here we go.