I went to get a new phone today because, although I don't believe I've mentioned it here, I FUCKING HATED MY PHONE. Hated with a passion that burned with the fire of a thousand suns. Hated A LOT. Which is all beside the point, it's not at all the point. I'm only mentioning it to procrastinate writing what I need to talk about, which is this:
I am a fucking monster. Now, before anyone gets any big ideas about how this is going to be one of those compliment fishing posts or I'm looking for someone to talk me out of feeling this way, you should wait. Wait and see why I say this. The only reason I'm sharing it is because seriously? People should be kept the hell away from me. Consider it a PSA and get the hell away. Just get away.
See, I was down at the phone place today getting myself a new phone because my old one was FROM FUCKING HELL, and I'm sitting there and I notice there's a flier on the representative's desk. I'm reading it upside down because I'm nosey like that, and I see two names I recognize. We'll say they're Dan and Judy. I think Hey, cool, I know a Dan and Judy, wouldn't it be funny if they're the same ones.
Then I see the picture. And it isn't cool, and I don't want to know this Dan and Judy anymore.
There's an under-lit photo of a blurry, unbelievably small person... Skin raspberry-red and ruddy and plastic-looking; delicate eyes hidden behind a black felt Zorro mask without the holes. A clear plastic tube disappearing between gaping, pencil-thin lips and down a tiny throat. Hands so small, the fingers look webbed.
There's another picture below it. Ink-stamped footprints. Between the foot prints is a penny to give perspective, and the feet are hardly bigger than the coin. Hardly bigger at all. The mind boggles, reels, spins away and gags, because feet that small are never attached to a body that lives.
I reached for the flier without asking, flipped it around to read what in the hell was going on...
Dan and Judy, friends I haven't seen in almost a year, were 6 months pregnant when Judy delivered their baby boy by emergency C-section less than 26 hours ago. The flier was asking for monetary donations to help differ the astronomical cost of hospital bills for mother and son, and hotel stays for the two parents to be able to stay near their tiny boy after discharge. They're 3 hours from home at a bigger hospital, and not that ANYONE has the money for this kind of thing, but Dan and Judy really don't. They've been hit with unemployment, are on assistance, and they struggle but they are so happy. Were so happy. Now that sunny disposition they face the world with has been clouded with fear and sorrow -- justified the first and premature the second because maybe, just maybe, their boy will make it. He could. They do, sometimes. They do. Don't they? He could.
I graduated with Dan, used to live downstairs from Judy. They've drifted out of my circle of consciousness and I from theirs, farther away than possible to be considered actual friends if any one's being honest. But I knew them once, and delight in seeing them still...
I didn't know they were pregnant. I didn't know Judy was having problems, bleeding problems, didn't know she'd lived the last 6 months of her life under the constant and very real threat of losing her son. I didn't know any of this, and it was a shock to the system, seeing this terribly small person who suddenly and surprisingly belongs to someone I care about. It seemed so unreal. Knowing that he may not live (babies aren't supposed to die.) Knowing how that must suffocate these two sweet people, staring at their son and willing him to hang on, baby, please hang on.
All of this registered in an instant, their terrible pain and fear and the delicate state of this tiny new person. It all flash-banged into my skull and became a part of my reality.
And then I made it about me. Because I'm a fucking asshole.
I started thinking, well, I'm 5 and a half months along -- only two weeks behind them. Jesus, would MY baby make it, would he live? Would they be able to save him? Would I be strong enough to go through what they're going through without scratching my own skin off and shrieking PLEASE HELP ME to anyone with ears? Would my baby die like theirs might? How could I recover from that again, I couldn't, I just know I couldn't.
I started looking for differences that would push me farther away from my friends and their situation, started feverishly scouring my mind for things that would put me apart from them and their tragedy. This lady says Judy started having problems at two months, I haven't had problems... She'd been on and off bed rest for the duration, I'm fine. We're fine. It's not going to happen to us. God, don't let it happen to us. She smoked -- I quit months before I got pregnant. She doesn't take much care of herself, I've been so, so careful.
You see. Monster.
I KNOW BETTER THAN THIS. Sometimes you can do everything right and the worst still happens -- has happened to me and people I know and love, IS happening NOW -- and yet there I was, like some superior, self important fuck, trying to convince myself that I was better or different so that terror wouldn't come knocking at our door. And you know what? Regardless of what Judy does, has done or hasn't done, no one deserves what she and her husband are going through right now and what in the hell kind of person has that reaction anyway!? These people, I know them, they are (were) friends, they're good people. How dare I...?
The representative was Judy's sister-in-law. She's going to take Judy and Dan's older girl (She's two. She's beautiful and perfect and sweet,) to see her parents tonight, making the drive after work. I pulled a hundred dollar bill out of my wallet, asked if I could give it to her for Judy and Dan and their boy.
It's not that I have hundreds lying around all the time. I was going to use that money to buy furniture for our baby...
But furniture is sticks and cloth and nails. It's material, it's nothing and it doesn't matter.
That money, when I handed it to that woman, became an extra night Dan and Judy can be close to their son without worrying how to pay for it. It became a bill that was just a little bit smaller.
It became a tangible apology for the guilt that woman didn't know I was feeling. I'm sorry for being so selfish, I'm sorry your son is sick and mine -thank God- is still where he belongs in my tummy, I'm sorry this happened to your family.
I'm sorry for being so scared. I'm sorry that hearing about your ordeal made me fear that the same could happen to us -- I'm sorry that, even if only in my mind, I treated you like your pain was contagious. I'm so sorry.