We stood watching on my front deck as the second ambulance arrived across the street. My erratic neighbor shouted up to me, “IT LOOKS LIKE YOUR HUSBAND!”
No one ever believes anything he says but then I realized I had not seen Mike since he left the beach about 45 minutes ago. We had been having a lovely conversation with an older woman who thought we were a Friday evening senior citizen group. He was charming and engaged her with questions about the winters that she spends in Key West in an RV. I had left them to help my friend take a panoramic photo if the awe inspiring simultaneous sunset and full moon rise.
When I returned back to my dusk ladened circle of friends, Mike had left. The rest of us packed up the chairs, towels and coolers and headed back to my second floor front deck before the gnats got too hungry on the beach.
While this neighbor may not be that reliable, I quickly left the deck and ran to find Mike. He must be in the den watching T.V. in his favorite green chair. When he wasn’t there I skipped steps up to our bedroom where my bed was eerily still made. It wasn’t unusual for him to make an “Irish exit” and head off to bed without telling anyone, but there was no sign of him.
By the time I got back to the deck the first ambulance was leaving and the DJ had started playing music again for the kids at the sweet sixteen party across the street. Doug and Karen, my next door neighbors who were still on my deck told me to get in their car. Off we sped to the hospital.
Karen held my hand and attempted to reassure me as I squeezed her fingers. We rushed into the ER and gave reception the name of our beach community house where the ambulance had come from. They directed us to a room and I told Doug to go in first while Karen and I held onto each other.
I recognized the doctor who had been in the ambulance. I had taught his son kindergarten 15 years ago. I asked “what happened?” He stopped, shocked to recognize me. He replied, “we couldn’t get his heart started”. Then he walked away.
Doug came out of the room and nodded to us. We all walked in together, the 2 of them supporting me. I saw my husband laying on the table. He was still barefoot and in his bathing suit. He had his faded blue t-shirt on and it was definitely his face with the scruffy gray, been vacationing for 2 weeks, bearded look. As I walked closer I was relieved to see that his eyes were open. I thought he must be OK. But as I touched his arm, and felt that reassuring bicep muscle that always made me feel safe, I noticed his eyes were open, but he wasn’t really there.
Why was he not moving? Why was there a big bump on his head and bloody scrapes on his knees? This could not be happening, I yelled, “WAKE UP!”
August 19th would have been my 29th wedding anniversary. The first year I played with elephants in the mud. It’s hard to beat that, unless I could spend it with Mike.
Sometimes you can’t runaway. Like from the month of August.
I started my blog when I decided to “runaway” by myself to Thailand and write stories about my trip to share with family and friends. I enjoy writing and have received such supportive feedback this year so I kept writing about big and small travels and adventures. I even shared some challenges like when I misplaced my husband’s wedding ring.
But right now, thinking about the end of August is giving me such anxiety that I almost wish I could just skip it and go right to September. Even though that means I’d be going back to work.
My two fabulous sons have gone back to school. I’m happy for them but I always hate saying goodbye.
August 28th will mark 3 years since Mike died. I’m starting to think a lot about our last day together and it makes me sad.
When I took the creative non-fiction class in Costa Rica I wrote about the night Mike died. Writing is healing and I may need to do a bit of writing this month.
Maybe if I try to do some exercise too, that would be a healthy and healing idea as well. Or maybe I’ll just get up every day.
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