I’m just ridiculously tired today. Once again my life seems to be veering all over the road. Where to start….where to start…..
This past Saturday someone got a hold of my debit card info and cleaned out my checking account. Note that this occurred the weekend before payday just after the first of the month’s bills had been paid….which meant that I was very, very broke as a result. Also over the weekend a very dear friend to my sig other passed away. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll use J when I mention my boyfriend. So I spent Sunday through Tuesday updating any accounts that used my debit card and trying to delay any bills that might come due before I got paid again. That was lots of fun.
I also bugged the bejeebers out of my bank trying to rush them into refunding me the money and mailing me a new card so I could buy things like milk. Again, lots of fun. I have to hand it to my bank, they were very kind and understanding, not to mention quick. I had my money back by Wednesday night. Now if we can only the catch the perpetrator…..I would love to take a baseball bat to them…seriously, the stress of having kids and not being able to get what you need for them…I can miss a meal or two, they can’t. Plus the stress of needing to help J out and take a car trip and not having the funds…..
See J’s friend was a firefighter and they buried him with full pomp and circumstance. That meant J had to “stand watch” over the body overnight in his Class A’s, i.e., full formal uniform. And he wasn’t the only one. Dozens of firefighters had helped in this duty since their friend passed Friday night. The firefighters on watch did 15 minute shifts standing at parade rest next to the departed for about 5 and half days or 132 hours straight. They rotated groups but some of them were on duty for well over 24 hours and they had to be awake the entire time. That, my friends, is love.
In addition, J was a pallbearer so he would be with the body until the very end. It would be tiring but not impossible for J to do. The problem was with J’s son, let’s call him T. T was also very close to the departed and wanted (actually, needed) to go to say goodbye) but he’s only 11. If his father was off doing his watch and pallbearer duties, T would be alone in the church, alone with the procession, sitting with almost complete strangers and alone in his grief. I couldn’t bear to let him be alone at such a difficult time. So I felt compelled to help J with T, which meant I had to find a way to go–money or no money. The plan was that J would drive up very early Wednesday and I would follow Wednesday evening (picking up my daughter from school and then his son from his school then make the drive up north).
J was supposed to get off his normal 24 hour shift at 4 am Wednesday morning and make the 4 hour drive up to Show Low, then begin his 24 hour shift standing watch and visiting with friends and the departed’s family at the wake. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, right? Tuesday night, I went to bed at 2 am. Why so late? Because I had to pack my and my daughter’s clothes after the kids went to sleep and then hem J’s uniform pants by hand. Next, my son woke me up at about 3 am with a nightmare. Then around 5 am I got a call from an unknown number. As soon as I saw “Unknown”, my heart went crazy because I knew something bad had happened to J. My worst fear was that it was officials calling with the worst news. Thank the FSM because it was him. Unfortunately, he had wrecked his car.
He has or had a white Mustang, which he loved, loved, loved. Did I say how much he loved his car? Anyway, he was driving down a dark two lane highway on the reservation (when I say dark, I mean pitch dark) when a herd of wild horses crossed the road. He saw them and avoided them and then thinking he was in the clear, he began to accelerate. Well another one stepped out in front of him. The horse was probably dead before it hit the ground. Another car about 200 yards up the road also hit a horse. Unfortunately, J’s car was totaled. And yes, I’m aware of the irony that he hit a mustang with a Mustang and both were goners. Again, thankfully, the horse did not come through the windshield and he’d suffered only an abrasion and swelling from the seat belt, and some neck stiffness.
This all meant he would not be able to go up as early as planned and now had to wait until I got off of work. So, Wednesday night saw all four of us crammed into the car (did I mention we had a full funeral spray in the trunk with our luggage AND a large bouquet in the backseat with the kids?). The drive was uneventful if you don’t count the kid’s bickering in the backseat. No sooner than we had arrived at the hotel, J had to get dressed and head over to the wake to stand watch. T could have gone but he didn’t think he could handle seeing his friend in the casket, which is understandable. It’s hard enough for us grown-ups, much less for kids.
This left me sans car, penned up in a small hotel room (remember we were low on funds) with two very restless kids and it was getting late. By 9 pm they were driving me crazy so I finally relented and let the kids go downstairs to swim in the indoor pool. Understand that my daughter and his son CANNOT go unsupervised because they are only a year apart, and they can get really hyper and silly with each other–those of you with kids or lots of nieces and nephews know what I mean. I made the best of it though by sitting in a lounge chair with my iPad watching Sons of Anarchy on Netflix via the hotel’s free wi-fi while the kids moved back and forth from jacuzzi to pool. They swam for an hour and then announced they were starving.
Well, of course they were. They’d eaten at 4 pm (not enough, but they had eaten) but being silly and playing makes one hungry. The hotel “store” was completely inadequate, there weren’t any restaurants close or open at this point, and the only thing I could do was order pizza delivered. That took an hour to arrive. The pizza arrived a few minutes before 11, they scarfed it down and passed out. I wanted to sleep but just couldn’t. I wanted to be with J at the wake instead I sat listening to the kids soft snoring for a while and then watched some more TV on my iPad. At midnight I finally decided to try to force myself to sleep and it worked.
At 5 am the next morning T woke up coughing uncontrollably. I texted J and told him that I had to get some cough medicine and was going to walk down the grocery store about a mile away. Again, thank FSM because unbeknownst to me J had driven over and left the car in the hotel parking lot for me (and gone back to stand watch with a friend). So I drove to the store, got the cough medicine and some Pepto Bismo because I really needed it at that point. T went back to sleep and my daughter, well, she never even woke up.
I thought we had plenty of time to get ready for the funeral, which started at 9:30. But by 9:10 we were running to get the car packed up and us checked out. The church was only five minutes away so we did make it on time. The flowers made it in one piece but barely. Then we had to sit through a full mass. My daughter not having experienced other religions (I only ever took her to Unitarian Universalist Churches, a no they aren’t the damn Moonies) was puzzled by the entire thing. Still not getting a chance to see or talk to J, he sat up in the front row with his fellow firefighters fighting sleep. Then off for a long slow procession to a mountain-top cemetery on the White River Apache Reservation. We ended up walking about a quarter of a mile down a muddy dirt road to a small clearing. I was pretty good most of the time. The eulogy at the church by a daughter got to me. When they played Amazing Grace on the bag pipes, well, that always makes me tear up.
Then at the grave site ceremony they have this tradition where they do a “last call” for the fallen which is broadcast via their radios. It goes something like this. A tone (or bell is rung) signaling the traditional fire alarm. Dispatcher says something like “Communication and all personnel, clear the channel for last call. No response is required”. Dispatcher calls from their home station out to his/her Firefighter number and says “This is the last call for F-423 Captain Jim Smith.” Then a pause. Then, “There is no response from F-423. He has answered his last alarm”. They then read a short statement that thanks them for their service to the community and that they will never be forgotten. They announce the exact date and time. That’s what really got me.
As soon as the service was done, J was finally able to join us and we walked back to our car. Changed into comfy clothes at the casino down the way, ate a late lunch (and a cold Kiltlifter was much needed at that point), and then we drove back home. Once home I had to put the carseat back in and drive across town to get my son who had stayed with his Dad. Then back home to unpack, shower and collapse into unconsciousness.
When I shuffle off this mortal coil at least my loved ones will be able to say that my life was never dull. How’s that for a “glass is half-full” attitude?