Late Bus

Shortly after Zachary died I began to have irrational fears of Lilly dying in some freakish way. During the seven months at CHOP before Shawn’s eventual cancer diagnosis, I spent a lot of time searching for human horror stories. They aren’t hard to find. I read stories of kids drowning in washing machines and school bus accidents. I was drawn to the chaos and disorientation in the descriptions of the experiences. I wanted to know about the small things that can lead to big chaos like a child wanting to please his mother by remembering to put his dirty socks in the laundry and ending up dead because of it. I wanted to learn about his mother’s description of the actions and events and emotions that immediately followed reaching into the washing machine and finding his arm.

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Photo Credit – Amelia Chaplin-Loebell

Friday’s nor’easter kicked up quickly in our area in an unpredictable and disorienting way. Schools were open. Then schools were closed but the kids couldn’t get out. The buses couldn’t get the kids home and parents couldn’t get to the schools to pick them up. I’ve seen storms like this before but only a few times.  As far as I know, everyone eventually got home. Tired and hungry and needing to pee, but alive and able to sleep and eat and use the toilet when they got there. We all suffered but we all made it out.

I dragged my feet leaving work after it had been announced that the college was closing early due to the storm. I stared out the window at the snow and ate the cottage cheese and blueberries that I had brought for lunch while most of my coworkers were packing up and wishing each other a safe drive home.  I looked at my phone’s weather app and wondered why the snow on my phone was falling slowly downward while outside the window it was falling forcefully sideways. I called Bill and told him what I knew about what was happening. I tried to call the school to tell them that I want to pick Shawn up on the way home but the lines were down.

I stared out the window some more.

I thought about Lilly who was about to get on the bus.

I thought about the dead kid in the washing machine.

I walked to my car and the wind blew me sideways.

My eyeglasses were covered with ice.

I wanted to be home.

I wanted my kids to be home.

I sat in my car for a couple minutes and screamed and cried and banged my hands on the steering wheel like I’ve done in the CHOP parking garage so many times.

I brushed the sideways snow off my windshield and headed for home.

I changed routes several times for an hour and forty five minutes.

I got home.

I stared out the window at the now upward snow.

I waited.

I thought about the dead kid in the washing machine.

I looked out the window.

The storm door opened and then the front door. Lilly came in, soaked and snow covered.

I breathed and said “I’m happy you’re home.”

 

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