Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wins and Losses

The Red Sox are poised to sweep the Series. This makes me happy for my grandmother, a lifelong Sox fan who has spent this fall staying up to the end of every game. She even stayed up to watch the entire Yanks-Indians playoff game I went to a few weeks ago.

"You know, I don't think I'd ever watched a Yankees game from beginning to end before in my life," she laughed.

I guess when you've been diagnosed with advanced liver cancer, you don't complain that it's getting late and time to turn in.

Tomorrow night we'll cut out of Sean's "fall ball" game early to head over to Grandma's house. It's my sister's birthday, and the whole extended family will be there for lasagne and cake. I'll probably be the videographer again, like I was at the last birthday party we had at her house. Unlike my mother who cries and leaves the room, overcome with emotion and making a scene, I'd rather hide behind the camera and privately witness Grandma's joy in these moments with us. If I cry, I cry. No one needs to see it.

For now, I'll head off to the grocery store with the kids. Today is a prime chili-makin' day. I need some serious food for my soul. Chili and homemade corn bread is calling me.

And the other item on today's agenda (besides kicking around with the kids) is burning the soundtrack to the Darjeeling Limited, which I downloaded last night. A long time ago, my friend Tyler said he went to a Ray Davies concert and many of the fans were weeping when Davies played certain Kinks songs.

I grew up listening to the Kinks, and I know most of their music pretty well. But listening to "Strangers" from the soundtrack this morning, I got it. I know where those fans are coming from. It's not just about the music. It never is. It's always about the story you bring to the lyrics to make them your own. Somehow, with their heartbreakingly sweet chords, the Kinks always cut to bone.

xo

Friday, October 26, 2007

Outside, Looking In

[Disclaimer: This is my third blog today. Read at your own risk.]

***






The kids and I went to our old neighborhood tonight for dinner. We stopped by our friends' house. They are former neighbors of ours from across the street, and their six-year-old son played with my boys every single day of their lives. They were the ones who watched Nolan when Sean was rushed to the hospital after his second allergic reaction to nuts. They were the ones who made us meals and brought over bottles of wine after our children were born. They were the ones we had frequent impromptu dinners with in the backyard, while the kids ran around and the parents compared notes on life. They were the ones who enjoyed the best of it with us. They were also the ones who had no idea they were enjoying the last of those days with us, too.

Selling the house was as difficult as it was easy, emotionally. But that was several months ago. The kids and I have settled into a real rhythm in our new place. They love their new school, their new house, their new neighborhood. It seemed like a pretty safe time to agree to an invitation to go back to our old stomping grounds. When I told the kids they were going, they *freaked*.

"To Travis' blue house!?" Nolan shrieked.

"It's about time!" said Sean. "You always kept saying we'd go, but we never did!"

True.

"Is our house going to be across the street?" Nolan asked.

"Yes, our old house will be across the street."

"Maybe we should say hi to it," Sean said, thoughtfully. "Maybe it will recognize us and say hi back."

"I think it will, sweetie."

We arrived at their house, and the kids briefly took note of the toys on the front porch of our old house, where their scooters and tricycles had always been parked, like some idyllic snapshot of Americana. "Gee, those toys look fun to play with," Sean said.

"They do, but we're here to see Travis," I said.

At the mere mention of his name, the kids bolted from the car, running up the front porch. Sean and Travis actually got caught in the front door, trying to hug each other amidst two dogs, me, Nolan, and Travis' mom.

The kids played for a few hours. We ate pizza, salad, dessert. We enjoyed some wine and cookies and played Mouse Trap! with the kids. Then, suddenly, Sean said he wanted to go home. This was highly unexpected. Nolan, the little echo, said the same. Sean put on his coat.

It was getting late, at least for Nolan, so I agreed it was time to leave, and we said our thank yous and goodbyes and gave hugs and kisses, and walked back outside to the car.

It was dark by then. Our old house, which had been dark when when we arrived at Travis', was now fully lit. And you could see the inside completely.

The kids stared across the street. I did, too. Sean said, "I wish we could just go across the street instead of having to get into our car."

"Yeah, I wish we could go across the street," said the echo.

"Get in the car," I said.

We all piled in. I buckled up the kids, who were quieter than usual. Then I buckled in myself and put the keys in the ignition. But before I started the engine, I turned to my left and looked. Without checking in my rearview mirror, I knew the kids were looking at the same thing that had grabbed my attention.

Inside our old house was a family of three, sitting around the dining room table, eating dinner. All the curtains were drawn back, and you could easily see big parts of the house. The once dramatic red dining room was now, well, white. The formerly yellow living room with warm oak trim was now, well, white. The formerly white fireplace, painted over because the brick underneath was so ungodly ugly was now, well, an ungodly ugly bare brick. The original woodwork, most of which had never been painted since the house was built in 1920, was covered in white paint. Sure, the house seemed brighter inside. But it seemed sterile, too. No life. Nothing cozy going on there. No eclectic artwork or interesting focal points. It looked as if there wasn't a single picture on the walls. With all the lights ablaze, I could see upstairs into Nolan's nursery. It was still the same shade of periwinkle that I had always loved. The walls in there were bare, too. But the room seemed empty. Almost as empty as the front porch, which seemed lacking, void of the antique rocker and table I had always kept out there. It seemed in need of some flowers, too. I always kept the steps lined with potted plants. Now, two sad little evergreens about six inches in height drooped on the bottom stairs. They seemed lonely.

I missed my house.

And I was pretty sure my house missed all of us.

The rain fell on my car. The kids and I sat in darkness, transfixed. Suddenly, I snapped out of it, threw the car in drive, and pulled away.

"Bye house!" said Sean.

"Bye house!" said the echo.

There was an eerie silence in the car after that. After a while Sean broke it, his voice cracking. "I wish we didn't have to drive all the way home. I wish we were just going across the street." He was wiping tears away.

"Do you miss the house?"

"Yes!" he started to choke out sobs.

"I miss the house, too!" said the little echo, tears streaming down his face as well.

"Well, I miss it, too, guys. It's okay to miss it!" I reached back to grab Sean's hand. Nolan reached for it and the three of us held hands while I drove. The kids were sobbing. I was, too.

"Go ahead. Tell me what you miss," I said.

"I miss our room!" said Sean. "I miss being able to go upstairs!"

"I miss going upstairs, too!" said the echo.

"I miss our yard, and our flowers," I said. "It's okay to miss these things, guys. It's okay." We held hands for several blocks, and the kids sniffled and whimpered, watching all the old houses that once seemed so familiar fade beside our car into the darkness.

I had to get myself together so I could safely drive us home. Today had been a long day, anyway, but it was suddenly unbearably long.

I pulled away my hand from the boys and fixed my eyes on the road. After a few minutes of listening to the kids sniffle, I said, "You know, even though we miss the house, at least you have a blue room in our new house."

"Yeah," said Sean. "Not some baby girl yellow color like our old room."

"And in our new house we have Timmy," I reminded them. "We didn't have a turtle in our old house. And we didn't get to see the water every day, like we do from our new house."

"Yeah", said Sean. "We see the water every day. We smell it, too."

"Yeah, the water," said the echo.

Ten minutes later, as we drove past the sea wall, Nolan remarked,

"Where are the boats?"

"Away. They're stored away until it's summer again," I said.

"Oh."

"Yeah, they go away for a while," said Sean. "Then they come back for a while. And then they go away again."

Exactly.

xo

Flight

A repost from today's Daily Om:


October 26, 2007

Without A Net
Living Life With Trust


As we create the life of our dreams, we often reach a crossroads where the choices seem to involve the risk of facing the unknown versus the safety and comfort of all that we have come to trust. We may feel like a tightrope walker, carefully teetering along the narrow path to our goals, sometimes feeling that we are doing so without a net. Knowing we have some backup may help us work up the courage to take those first steps, until we are secure in knowing that we have the skills to work without one. But when we live our lives from a place of balance and trust in the universe, we may not see our source of support, but we can know that it is there.

If we refuse to act only if we can see the safety net, we may be allowing the net to become a trap as it creates a barrier between us and the freedom to pursue our goals. Change is inherent in life, so even what we have learned to trust can surprise us at any moment. Remove fear from the equation and then, without even wondering what is going on below, we can devote our full attention to the dream that awaits us.

We attract support into our lives when we are willing to make those first tentative steps, trusting that the universe will provide exactly what we need. In that process we can decide that whatever comes from our actions is only for our highest and best experience of growth. It may come in the form of a soft landing, an unexpected rescue or an eye-opening experience gleaned only from the process of falling. So rather than allowing our lives to be dictated by fear of the unknown, or trying to avoid falling, we can appreciate that sometimes we experience life fully when we are willing to trust and fall. And in doing so, we may just find that we have the wings to fly.

When we believe that there is a reason for everything, we are stepping out with the safety net of the universe, and we know we will make the best from whatever comes our way



***

Word. - xo

Testing Limits

A couple of weeks ago I went to see The Darjeeling Limited, the latest film by Wes Anderson. I'm a huge Wes Anderson fan. I love his work and know his movies the way diehard Star Wars fans know and love the work of George Lucas. But Wes Anderson is no George Lucas: Anderson's movies are more substantial.

The movie was excellent, another story dense with character studies and tactile visuals. I had waited so long for that movie to come out, and I so adore Wes Anderson's ability to relay emotion with a camera and a good soundtrack, that I burst into tears when the movie started. The Kinks played while Adrien Brody ran for a train in slow motion. Tears poured from my eyes. There is something seriously wrong with me.

There are so many movies I need to catch up on, at home and in the theater. I don't get much free time to myself, but I think the next time I do--in a week or so--I'm going to see The Darjeeling Limited again. I want to go alone, though. This is a big deal: I don't see movies alone. I've only done it once, when I went to see State and Main (great movie!) alone in Seattle. The next day we had a 6.8 earthquake in the city. Because of that earthquake, I was reminded that life is short, and consequently I made some pretty big decisions that would forever change my life.

But I never again went alone to a movie. For a while, I used to fear something cataclysmic would happen if I did. A crazy superstition, I know.

I'm not saying I don't believe in that now. But I guess I no longer fear it. In fact, I'm all for inviting it.



xo

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Big Thoughts, Little Men, and Digging Deep

Monday night Sean, Nolan and I returned home from Sean's "Fall Ball" little league game under the lights. We piled outta the car and stood in the driveway, staring up at the sky. The moon was stunning. It was a little more than a half moon, ablaze against the evening clouds and encircled by what looked like a rainbow of light. Crazy.

Nolan shrieked, "The moon is following us!!"

To which Sean replied, "The moon spends its whole life following everyone on earth."

Indeed. With the moon and sun always there, how could anyone ever feel lonely?

Last night, while eating dinner, Sean mused, "What if the whole world just went away, and we just lived in Candy Land?"

"That sounds pretty awesome. But what about the trees?" I asked.

"They'd be candy trees!"

"What about the ocean?"

"It would be Princess Frostine!"

"Would you miss our world," I asked.

"No! I would just eat candy all the time!"

Then he munched away on his dinner, lost in thought. Nolan was busy talking to the turtle, and Sean suddenly turned to me, his eyes full of tears,

"Actually, I think I would miss our world. So I think I would sometimes get stuck on the licorice spot so I could slide back into it, whenever I was missing it."

"It's always good to have a back-up plan, honey. I think that's a good one," I said.

"Yeah. The getting stuck is a good plan sometimes."

***

Sunday I spent the afternoon planting bulbs in Grandma's garden. My Aunt Kate and I weeded out the dead annuals, raked, and I dug sixty holes for sixty bulbs. My mom hung out for a while, but she was too overcome with emotion watching Grandma watch me as I planted, so she left. But if there are perfect moments in time--and there are--that was one of them. It was a glorious October day. Grandma was feeling pretty well that afternoon, and so she spent a while in the garden with me, talking about the different plants that are her favorite, as well as pointing out the ones that never did as well as she had expected. "Well, you just never know," she said. "Some years those bloom, and others they don't. I guess I'm just always surprised."

We stood under a glowing arc created by the neighbor's maple that reaches over the fence to drop some of its leaves, like a special favor. Grandma remarked that Sean was so cute playing in the leaves last week, and I resolved at that moment to appreciate each moment and each person as much as she does.

It felt so wonderful to get dirty in the garden. I didn't realize until that afternoon how much I missed the rhythm of gardening, which I did haphazardly but with lots of enthusiasm at my old house, which I sold this summer. I take a lot of comfort from the smell of the earth, watching worms wriggle and slither, listening to the birds and ripping roots from the ground in order to plant new ones. It had been almost a year since I had done that, with the exception of a few small plants I threw into the ground at my new place when I first moved in. But it's not the same. I don't own that home. The cycles of the seasons are different for me, as a result.

Planting the bulbs with Kate was cathartic. Grandma is looking forward to them bloom in the spring, and I know she will be there to see them do just that, regardless. Standing in Grandma's yard, I was brought back to a time when I was young and innocent and thought nothing about my world was strange, nor would it change. For a time, I wanted to hold on to it all. I considered my mother's offer of buying the house from the estate when Grandma dies. But now, no. It's time to let go. It's time to move on. It's time to give up the ghosts in those walls. It would be a beautiful thing to live there, in some ways. But no one can take Grandma's place. And I don't want to be the one to change the landscape or the layout of the one shelter that has been constant in my family for five decades.

I stopped by Grandma's at lunch yesterday to check on the bulbs and to visit with Grandma. She walked into the kitchen, surprised and happy to see me. Her coloring was great, and she seemed strong.

"Did you see that moon last night?" she asked.

"I did!" I answered, and relayed Sean and Nolan's comments about it to her. She laughed. Then she said that she and my aunt were planning to go to Ikea for a few things. She asked if I needed anything.

No. I don't need anything. Just knowing that Grandma, my children and I were all standing under the light of the same moon is enough.



xo

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Day Off

I have the slowest-moving cold ever. Just when I think I'm better, I push it and I'm knocked back down on my ass again. Last night I was in bed at 8:45. I slept until 6:30.

At least I didn't have to work yesterday. The kids were off from school, and I took the day to be with them. Feeling better, I made a big lunch and my grandmother, mother and brother came over for the afternoon. It was a gorgeous day, and it was so nice to see Grandma out of her house, sitting on my deck in the sunlight, enjoying a meal. She ate her entire lunch, which is a big deal these days. And she was even up for a cup of chai, another surprise. Later, she and my mom went down to Lighthouse, where they walked around the flower beds and butterfly gardens, while my brother and I played baseball with my little guys.

After they left, Sean decided we were going to have a scavenger hunt, pretending to be ninja turtles and going to "ninja island". We ran next door and used the property of an abandoned historic house as our "island", where we found all the things on Sean's list--an acorn, a feather, a rock, and something purple (flowers, in a neglected, overgrown memorial garden). The kids loved traipsing around our secret hideaway. The sun was bright, the sky was clear, the air was perfect.

This morning, Sean took my hand to look out the back door toward the east. "Look, mom! Want to see the prettiest pink sky ever?"

"Wow. What a sunrise."

"It's beautiful, isn't it?"


My little guy...



It was nice to see that sunrise this morning, especially since it went down so early last night.

Summer goes by quickly.

But Autumn is even shorter.

xo

Thursday, October 11, 2007

From Today's NYT

I read this today and I have to share it. It made me cry, because even though these days are far off with my children, they're still inevitable:




October 11, 2007

Cyberfamilias

You Virtually Had to Be There
By MICHELLE SLATALLA

EVER since she went off to college I’ve come to think of my daughter as Virtual Zoe. In many ways, there’s not that much difference between my glimpses of her now and the brief physical sightings in the years after she earned her driver’s license.

But these days, I never know where she will turn up. It could be in the form of an e-mail message — “Check out this sweet car I saw for sale on Craigslist” — or when I’m trying to work and an instant message pops up: Oh, come on, it’s sooooo cheappppp (for a car). Or she might write a blog post about her most recent purchase, a long-handled “claw” that extends her arm reach by nearly three feet so she can grab her phone without getting off her bed or (if later than noon) the common-room couch.

She still exhibits the same sense of humor, the same late-night hours and presumably the same baggy gray sweat pants.

Or does she? It’s the last part — wondering about what I can’t see — that has been the hardest for me since she went away. I try to ignore the longing, but sometimes it sneaks up when I’m doing the most ordinary thing like folding laundry. I begin to wonder: Is that all I get? I put 18 years of hard work into this person, and now she disappears?

As her mother, I needed to lay eyes on her. It was still a long time until Thanksgiving break. Last week I asked her in an e-mail message, “Can we video chat tonight?”

It was a big step, because I’ve always thought of video chats as something enjoyed mainly by connoisseurs of pornography and my husband (not to my knowledge a connoisseur of pornography). More than a decade ago, he brought home a program called CU-SeeMe, and we crowded around his Powerbook as if it were the first color television in town, transmitting herky-jerky images.

I know that video chats have become much more common because practically every time I walk into the kitchen these days, I inadvertently appear in the background of a broadcast and prompt my 10-year-old daughter, Clementine, to say to her laptop, “Don’t worry, my mom isn’t angry, she always looks like that.” But I had yet to experience the magic myself.

At the appointed hour, we phoned Zoe, knowing that she could reach her computer without leaving her seat (“My claw has suction cups to help grip things,” she reassured us). Clementine fired up the iChat connection.

Would Zoe look the same? Did she still write on her hand in indelible Sharpie all the things she didn’t want to forget? Did her stuffed zebra still lie on her pillow, with a paw thrown across his rheumy plastic eyes to block the sunlight?

We all crowded around the screen.

Blackness.

“It says there was a communication error,” Clem said.

We tried again. And again. But we couldn’t conjure Zoe onscreen. My husband looked up the error codes on Google. Zoe changed her iChat bandwidth preferences and, after that didn’t work, her Quicktime preferences.

Only I was not experienced enough with video chats to remain calm. But I felt the familiar despondency of the technology neophyte creep over me. I said into the phone, “At least tell us, are you wearing the sweat pants?”

“Hang on,” Zoe said. Then she actually got off her bed and walked to the dorm’s common room — where she said the signal was stronger — and tried to evict her dorm mates. “You guys, I have to video chat in here with my parents,” she said, adding: “Shut up. It’s not creepy.”

Still nothing.

As a last resort, we decided to abandon iChat for Skype. She started to download the video conferencing program, but unfortunately at a speed roughly equivalent to the Dark Ages. “It says it’s going to take me 2 hours and 24 minutes,” she said, yawning.

Despairing, we gave up.

At 7:30 a.m. Pacific time the next day, the phone rang. It was Zoe, calling at the crack of 10:30 a.m. Eastern time.

“You guys, try Skype again,” she said.

And just like that, there was Virtual Zoe, incarnate. Same hair, same glasses, same smile. At 30 frames a second, my husband claimed.

“Zoe!” I said.

“Mom!” she said. “Is that my shirt you’re wearing?”

“No,” I lied, realizing too late that in my zeal to see her, I had forgotten to consider the full implications of her seeing me.

“It is, and she’s been wearing it constantly,” said Ella, my 16-year-old daughter, elbowing me aside to start gossiping with her older sister.

“You’re wearing one of my sweaters, Ella,” Zoe said.

“Want to talk to the dogs?” Ella asked, deftly angling the laptop to show Sticky, our eight-pound Papillon. The little dog dragged across the floor a nine-pound bone that she had stolen from Otto, our Labrador retriever.

“Look at Little Man,” Zoe kvelled. “Sticky, if you had a claw like me, you wouldn’t have to drag things.”

“Show us your claw,” Clem said to Zoe.

Zoe held it up. “Look, I’m holding a water bottle,” she said. “Want to see it pick up a shoe?”

My husband, squinting at Virtual Zoe, said, “Hold up your arm and show us what you wrote on your hand.”

The hand said, “Claire’s birthday,” “Return Nip/Tuck” and “Go to library” (crossed out).

I asked, “Can you angle the computer so we can see what’s on the floor in your room?”

But instead, without warning the picture started to break up. Now it looked like a transmission from outer space, with jerky slow-motion images of Zoe floating across the screen.

“Goodbye, Angels,” Zoe said, and from very far away we saw the claw wave erratically as her voice faded out.

Finished 14:29, the screen displayed.

It was the fastest 14 minutes 29 seconds I could remember.

I missed her already.

My cellphone rang.

“Can you stop wearing my shirt?” Zoe asked.

“If I remember,” I said.

“Write it on your hand,” she recommended.

E-mail: Slatalla@nytimes.com



xo

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Alternative Birthing Methods

I went to bed before last night's game was over. Because, well, I knew it was over even if it wasn't over, no matter what Yogi Berra says. I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised this morning with a reversal of fortune. But I'm not stupid. Hopeful, maybe. Stupid? No. Not as a rule, anyway.

I collapsed into a deep sleep last night, and I had some pretty wild dreams, including me being pregnant and told by the doctors they would have to deliver the baby early--like, several months early--to perform some life-saving procedure on it. I went into the hospital and was being induced, which is weird, and I remember seeing the bag of pitocin hooked up to my arm. Then it turned into a cathater full of piss. Weird. They should have done a C-section anyway! But I was being induced, regardless. I remember feeling totally ambivalent about this baby. I didn't really want it, I don't think.

Then I heard a baby cry. All that ambivalence went out the window. My baby! My baby was crying! But wait--I didn't have the baby.

Some guy, laying in a bed in a grassy field across the hall from my hospital room, had the baby instead.

The doctors gathered around. The baby was perfect. It was a boy. He was perfect in every way, and he was so small. Turns out he didn't seem to need his procedure. But since he was premature, the doctors said he might have to be "put back inside". And even though I didn't have him, he was somehow going to be stuffed back inside my body. All the while, the doctors held on to him, I kept asking to hold him--I felt, in my dream, a physical, primal need to hold him. And I was still hooked up to the bag of piss-pitocin.

Bizarre.

I don't know who the guy was who had my baby. He was totally forgotten about as soon as the baby popped out.

Weird.

xo

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Postseason Odds

I'm watching the Yanks play Cleveland right now. Hmmm...let's see....words that rhyme with Yank: stank, sank, wank, spank, tank...

They're losing 11-3. That's kind of impressive.

***

I suppose I could go on at length about my family right now and all the bullshit that my mother and her siblings unleash on each other on a pretty regular basis, especially now that Grandma--their mother--is dying. Want to see a bunch of grown people turn into infants? Throw them into their mother's house all at the same time. Within minutes they'll be fighting for attention from a woman who deserves peace, quiet, and tea.

I suppose I could also go on at length about the big and little moments in my life as a divorced woman, as a divorced mom, and how the effects of that trickle down into every other relationship I have in my life. But I'm tired of thinking about it, much less writing about it.

I could probably even write about my hopes and plans for the next year, the next two years, the next ten years...the rest of my life. But I'm all done counting on things. That's not to say I don't have an idea where I'd like to go and a plan for how I might do that. But I can't count on anything except the fact that I will never be able to predict how things will turn out, no matter how much control I exercise with my own decisions and actions. Those equal and opposing reactions? Yeah, I have no control over those.

I also have no control over what other people think and feel--about anything, let alone me. And so, at the end of most days when I tuck in the kids and retire to the livingroom, alone, for some yoga or downtime with the dog, I'm grateful for the friends I have in my life. For the people who I have been privileged to know and love. For the people I've been blessed to have love me back. For my family. For all the guys I've known, too. And when it comes to men, well, all I can really say is that I know less every day. Here I am, clueless. And yet I'm trying to raise two boys to become men.

In the end, I know this: I'm trying really hard these days not put up a huge wall in my life. I think a little wall is okay, one that can be easily jumped. But the big wall can get built pretty quickly, and I'm keenly aware of the bricks and mortar in my hands. It's easy to want to put up a barrier between myself and the rest of the world some days. Well, some days more than others, anyway. Like yesterday, when I decided on the following logic in my pea brain: If something isn't yours to begin with, then you can't lose them. And if you can't lose them, you can't miss them. If I follow that logic, one of the biggest hurts in my life should be anesthetized.

And, naturally, that logic dictates that life would be a lot better if I can't lose people.

Hence the bricks. And mortar.

I'm not a mason, though. I don't even descend from masons, as far as I know. I descend from writers and drinkers. Holy crap. I'm fucked!

Still, though, my ancestry doesn't dictate my destiny. After all, despite my genetic predisposition toward negative thought and depression, I'm not a Red Sox fan. ;o)

But as a baseball fan, I can proudly abuse sports metaphors and safely say that while it hurts to lose, you know that one season is just one season. Hell, one at-bat is just one at-bat! There's always your next turn at the plate. And there's always next season. And someone's always gonna win a game and someone's always gonna lose a game. Or a division. Or a series. But it's still just a game. And if you're not enjoying it, that's your fault.

xo

Monday, October 1, 2007

Friday Night in the ER

Never assume that first responders know where they're going.

Friday night Sean managed to stuff a huge plastic sword down his brother's throat, and then Nolan fell, resulting in him gagging and vomiting up immense amounts of blood. Three times. I called 911.

As I gave my location, I emphasized that I lived on XYZ Avenue, not XYZ Street, the latter of which was on the other side of town. The operator repeated the address, I repeated it back to her, and she repeated it to me again.

I hung up, unlockedd and opened the front door, and then sat on the floor with Nolan in my lap. Sean cried that his brother was going the hospital and never coming home--and that it was all his fault. I tried to calm down Nolan, reassure Sean that I knew he didn't mean to hurt his brother, and remain calm myself as my pint-sized three-year-old continued to vomit up pure blood. I had no idea how severe or minor his injury was, but it sure didn't look so good. Thank God I don't get woozy. My living room looked like a crime scene.

After a few minutes, Engine 16 showed up, followed by an NHFD rescue truck. Nolan had finally stopped vomiting, and Sean was in hiding. The firemen paraded into the house, followed by neighbors running from the homes into mine. One of the firemen coaxed Sean out from behind the couch.

"Hey, buddy," he said, as Sean popped up like a shy prairie dog. "Can you show us what you stuck in your brother's mouth?"

Sean pulled out the 18-inch plastic sword from behind his back. The eyebrows on every guy in my living room -- were there six? eight? -- raised up to the ceiling. The fireman cleared his throat. "Okay, buddy. Can you show us how far down his throat it went?"

Sean moved his hand along the sword, stopping after about five or six inches.

The Lt. or Cpt. or whomever was in charge turned to me. "Ready to go?"

"Yep."

"AMR went to XYZ Street, not Avenue," piped up one of the firemen, after saying something into his radio.


Beautiful. The fucking ambulance was on the other side of town. Glad this wasn't a life or death situation. Hope those EMTs enjoyed their Big Macs on their ride to the wrong house.


"Looks like you're going to get a transport in the truck," said another to Sean. "We'll need his carseat for the ride," he said to me.

I tossed him my keys. "The car is in the back," I said.

The kids and I went to the rescue truck, while my neighbors were on my porch and in my living room, offering all kinds of help. I asked if they would simply make sure Cee Cee got back into the house safely--she was running around the firetruck outside and trying to play with all the firemen at this point. Then I called Ian and Keith. Ian booked off work after I called and met us down at the hospital to take Sean home. Keith took off for the hospital, where he stayed with me and Nolan.

But back to the ride. I sat on the stretcher with Nolan on my lap, both of us loosely belted and Nolan covered in red vomit. The fireman who retrieved Sean's booster seat jumped into the truck.

"Man, you've got some good neighbors," he said. I figured he was referring to the party of helpful, concerned people on my front porch.

"We're lucky," I said.

"I'll say. One of your neighbors just yelled at me, 'Hey, what are you doing back there? Can I help you with something?' while I was going through your car. He thought I was breaking into it while you were busy dealing with an emergency!"

That would be Ed. I love Ed.

After a bumpy ride to YNHH's pediatric ER (Nolan frequently interrupted his silence to say, "Whoa.") Nolan was assessed, monitored, x-rayed, and in every way, shape and form checked out. Diagnosis: Lacerated throat, perilously close to the artery. The cut clotted on its own. No swelling or pockets of blood to be found. Soft foods for the next 48 hours. We were discharged around 10:45 PM. And not a moment too soon. Trauma calls had started coming in over the exam room's radio. If there is one thing I didn't want to be around, it was trauma in a pediatric unit.

We arrived home. Keith kissed Nolan goodbye and drove off. I carried my little guy inside and fixed him a tall glass of milk. He sat on the couch next to Ian and watched as the Yanks blew their lead, while Sean slept soundly in his room. Within minutes, Nolan was passed out in his own bed beside him.

The sword has been put far away.

Nolan's shirt has been washed and removed of stains.

The floor has been mopped.

Sean is no longer traumatized by the fear that he killed his brother--a very real, big fear of his that night.

And I never, ever, ever want to see that much blood come out of either one of my children again.

Ever again.

Saturday afternoon we attended Sean's little league awards dinner, where Sean received his first trophy, won a raffle prize (so did Mom!), and Nolan housed three huge meatballs and a bunch of ziti.

The kid is okay.

Sean's been hugging Nolan a lot more the past few days, too. We all have.



The End.