My grandmother used to say that my father lived to adulthood because she constantly went by the motto “don’t kill him today… kill him tomorrow.” So before you get concerned that I am of homocidal intent, take a minute to read this short background piece:
That said, if Rich were in front of me right now, he would be dead meat.
It all started with Rich being diagnosed with this stupid, fatal brain disease. His cousins are all very close and we love spending time with them. They wanted to have a “cousin reunion.” No one is saying it out loud, but all of us, even Rich, knew that the thought was “maybe we can get together one more time.” Since Rich had to stop working, I have kicked up my therapy practice and couldn’t leave work to go with him.
Rich decided that he wanted to ride his Harley from Redding to Las Vegas for this reunion (650 miles). He said he wanted to do this while he still could. “What is the worse that could happen?” he said with a tone dripping in sarcasm. “Let’s see, I could die of heat stroke out in the desert doing something I love, or I can wait and die one brain cell at a time like a vegetable.” We went round and round about him getting to Vegas in this manner.
I finally acquiesced and said I would be supportive of him riding to Vegas if he agreed to a whole lot of safety precautions. These included an evaporative cooling vest and neck wrap, a 100 ounce Camelpak (water reservoir that is carried like a backpack) and he said he would call me every hour for me to help evaluate how he was doing with the heat.
Brenda and Dave, our extremely loving and supportive friends and Harley riders, stepped up and said, “We’ll ride half way with him to give him a good start toward Vegas.” They did that and rode from Redding to Hawthorne with him yesterday. All was well when he took off from Hawthorne early this morning.
To cut through all the slow, tortuous build up of worry, I’ll cut to the chase… THE IDIOT NEVER CALLED ME!!!!!!!! When he’d been out-of-touch for about five hours, I casually called the hospital in Nye County. No motorcycle accidents.
I waited a bit more and then called the Nye County Sheriff’s Department and spoke to a dispatch angel named Sam. I told her my concerns and that I was trying not to over-react or be all dramatic. I didn’t mention that Rich has this stupid brain disease and that was making me extremely worried about a lot of various possibilities for disaster. Sam was so professional and efficient, but at the same time compassionate and understanding. She never made me feel like an idiot or histrionic wife. Sam just took care of business while at the same time offering a piece of humanity and heart… like my concerns were important… like I mattered. I started crying and tried to keep it together.
Sam contacted the Nevada Highway Patrol to alert them to be on the lookout for Rich, in case he broke down and didn’t have cell phone coverage. Silly me, I was thinking he must be either broken down without cell coverage or he’s wrecked on the road, or he would have called. (DON’T KILL HIM TODAY… KILL HIM TOMORROW… Aughhhhhhh!!!) Sam called me back to get the Harley license plate number and my heart sank to the floor. She quickly told me no one had any information about a problem, but Highway Patrol wanted the license number. While I was on the phone with Sam, call waiting rang with guess who… YES… MR. “I AM NOW SO IN THE DOG HOUSE I MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER STAYING IN LAS VEGAS FOREVER.” In my hurry to switch lines I disconnected Sam.
I asked Rich if he was okay. He said, “Yes.” I asked him why he didn’t call and I honesty do not remember what he said. I remember seeing white and wanting to strangle him through the phone. I hung up on him. I calmly called Sam back and told her Rich was okay, except that he was now in huge trouble. I did have the presence of mind not to tell a law enforcement officer that I WAS GOING TO KILL THE BASTARD… even if I am just venting. Sam was relieved and said she understood as her husband also rides motorcycles and she worries about him sometimes. I told her she was a “911 Angel” and very good at her job!!
After Rich called, apologizing profusely and admitting he totally screwed up, BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH… after I told him “FUCK YOU AND THE FUCKING HARLEY YOU RODE IN ON”… after he called for the third time, I said, “If you had been sideways… if you had been crying or anxious or needed me… you would have called 100 times. YOU DIDN’T CALL BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T NEED TO AND YOU NEVER LET IT ENTER YOUR MIND THAT I NEEDED TO HEAR FROM YOU AND THAT YOU PROMISED TO CHECK IN.” I told him, “When you can get out of that GOD FORSAKEN messed up brain and dig deep and think about me for a minute… when you can try to tell me what I might have been feeling, I will talk to you.”
Rich quietly said, “I can do that right now. You were afraid. You were afraid that I had died — that something horrible happened because the only reason I wouldn’t call was if I couldn’t. I scared you. I worried you.”
I sighed and said, “You hurt me, Rich. You made me feel unimportant and dispensable as if I am only here if YOU need me to take care of you. You left me worried and frightened with no concern for my feelings.”
Rich whispered, “I did and I am sorry…. can I call you back again in awhile?” Silence. “Can I call you tonight?” Silence. “I’ll try you tonight. I love you… always have, always will.”
“I love you, too.”
I hung up and went outside to find out that our house and cars had been egged last night. UGH!! Thank God for wonderful, kind, loving people like Sam the 911 operator for Nye County Sheriff’s Department. With people like her in the world, we can all survive the other stuff.