Friday, December 6, 2013

The Radio

I had an emergency radio. I bought it from L.L. Bean, and it had a hand crank-- no batteries needed. It had a flashlight, an alarm signal, and a place you could plug in a cellphone to charge. It came in a small black case and made me feel prepared. For what, I'm not so sure. I envisioned it would be useful in a blizzard, a hurricane or a terrorist attack.

Perhaps I thought that in buying such a thing, I was sending out a message to the universe that I'd done my due diligence, so any crisis could/should just move right along please. I carried it from house to house in my young mothering like I'd moved my dog-eared junior high folder with CPR instructions in it, making a mental note to myself when the guidelines dropped the 2 breath standard in favor of just chest compressions. Surely, if I'd carried that green folder off to college, and grad school, and into home ownership and motherhood, I'd be off the hook from actually having to perform CPR, from the terrifying privilege of having to save a life.

I write this today because on the balmy afternoon and evening of Jack's accident, it never crossed my mind to get out the emergency radio. We were tucked in our cozy home. We were laughing. We were snacking. Yes, we were experiencing very strange and notable weather, but it just didn't click with me that there could be danger on our plain little cul de sac. Life seemed so normal. So relaxed. So hopeful.

Perhaps the radio could have alerted me to just how bad the situation was, if I'd bothered to turn it on. Maybe it could have snapped me to attention. Who knows? Like my neighbors up and down the street, who sent their kids out in the rain to play, I was living in the middle of an emergency situation without even realizing it.

I guess the radio didn't do the real job I bought it for.

Zipped up in its little black case, among the kids' backpacks and sports equipment, it didn't serve as any kind of insurance policy that bad things wouldn't happen to our family.

37 comments:

Peg said...

Sigh. This one tugged hard on my heart strings. Loss in any way is difficult. Sudden, tragic loss is horrible. Until it happens you can think you're planning for the unthinkable, but unfortunately the radio, the emergency plan, the car insurance, the whatever, can't stop flash floods and car accidents. As usual, I am so sorry for your loss and I want you to know that I think of you and Jack often.

Ingrid said...

Oh Anna,
How I ache for you. Sending you so much love this Christmas season.

Andrea Mowery said...

Oh, Anna. Nothing in this world is guaranteed, is it? I hate that you had to learn this in such a terrible way. I can so relate to the carrying around certain protective measures as a sign to the universe to just move along with its tragedies, as if my tools will ward them off. I am just like you in this way. Love to you.

Stumbling Towards Perfect said...

I keep thinking how I picked up chicken at KFC for dinner. How did I not know what was about to happen?

((hug))

Jill Carroll said...

xoxoxoxo

Tracy said...

Oh my heart. Love to yous always.

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna. You express the idea of "I'm all prepared, so nothing too terrible can happen to me" all too well. I too veer between having a false sense of security owed to my assurance in any talismans I may have conjured or actual practical emergency prep I may have done, and lying awake nights worrying about how we'll actually cope in the event of a severe earthquake or whatever other disaster could befall us. What's even more delusional is that sometimes I almost feel as if the grieving I have done along with you ought to grant me leave from having to go through it on my own, should something tragic occur in my family or circle of friends. Ridiculous, right? But my mind and heart do try to trick me in this way.

love,
jbhat

Noah's Mom said...

No one knew, Anna, and you were not supposed to know. Even with that emergency radio, what Mother would have ever thought about it? You were already out doing everything in your power, which was more than that radio could have done. Jack is ok now and would want you to be ok with everything you did. Sadly, NONE of us are exempt from bad things happening and that fear is always lurking. But try to remember your new-found joy starting to make it's way in, embrace it, and keep looking to the future. Jack is in your heart always and forever and is happy when you are happy. I know this to be true.
Love,
Lee Anne

Christian said...

Sweet Anna - Thinking of you. You have taught us all so much through your blog, but they are lessons I wish you didn't have the knowledge to teach. Sending you love.

Anonymous said...

Anna,

I question about whether or not I can plan for anything. My family has also been through so much. I’m leaning to the side of not being able to plan for anything - not even dinner tonight (probably not good to lean this strong).

I’ve learned life can turn in an instant. I live mostly moment to moment. We can get such a false sense of security when things are running smoothly. I believe it is an illusion to help us remain calm. It’s the opposite of worrying constantly. That is an illusion too - we just don’t know for sure how the next moment will unfold.

Wishing you blessings each and every day.

Anonymous said...

I wish it had worked. May you find some peace.

Anonymous said...

I have very little sailing experience except for one very notable 23 day experience. I was once on a sail boat in the middle of the Atlantic and there was a large storm. It didn't toss our boat around like one might expect because the swells are so large in the middle of the ocean that they rise and dip quite gently. The wind was very high however and the rain fierce. Everything seemed to be under control to me and to be honest I was having a great time. It was the only excitement we had on the entire trip during which the whether was either quiet or completely dead (without wind our boat just sat there). I was on deck enjoying the craziness, hanging lightly onto the thin rail at the edge of the deck. I came to learn a few days later that it was actually a hurricane and the captain and several of the mates were scared shitless. These were very experienced people. Every time I think back on that I get a pit in my stomach. Good God, why didn't anyone tell me to get below deck! I was too stupid to know the danger I was in. I think it happens all the time and most of the time we never even learn about it later. We live in a state of deep ignorance. Not good, not bad, it just is.

OSMA said...

I remember that day, Anna. There was nothing about it that hinted at danger or tragedy of this magnitude. When I learned of the accident online, I spent hours searching for updates that would say Jack was ok after all because I couldn't believe such a horrifying outcome could come from that day. And not far from me was a mom who did the exact same thing all of us moms would've done: let their kids play with their friends. I've never prayed for the reversal of time so much in all my days and probably never will.

Sending love. All of it.

xoxo

Anonymous said...

That's exactly right. It wasn't possible to tell that it was an emergency situation, and so your neighbors sent their kids out to play, too. Nobody had any idea.

You've talked before about feeling some "shame" about Jack's loss, although you've done nothing wrong. You have not only done nothing wrong, but you were and are loving mother to Jack.

Geri said...

This so touched my heart. I had prayers beads. I went and hand picked the beads, got the twine to put them on, and every morning for a few years I woke up and grabbed them and prayed, and did the same every night before I fell asleep. I believed with all my heart and soul that doing this would somehow make a difference, that somehow my son's life would be spared from the life-threatening illness he had if I did this. Sigh. Well I guess at least they helped me at the time, because doing it did make me feel safe and calmed my fears until the unthinkable happened. So that's something.

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

Is it weird that I think about these things...what it felt like before? In college, I had a friend die in a car accident. My most frequent thought was about how she felt and what she thought that morning as she was getting ready for work. Did she sense anything was different? Some days, as I'm going to about my normal routine I think about this.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anna,

I understand completely about this, it is my "Achilles heel". I believed for many years that by preparing in every tiny way, every detail of emergency medicine at my fingertips, that I would always be able to "save" my family and loved ones. I found out the hard way via 911, the 5 miscarriages and the 6 deaths of immediate family members since 2006 that my "be prepared" stance doesn't always "save the day"....Such a hard damn lesson for a Mama / trauma nurse to learn......But I did realize not too long ago, that sometimes God had placed me in a situation that was "going badly, on the way to destruction" and some action I would have deemed as small, even forgettable, I found out later was HUGE for someone else. Sure, I can claim to have "saved lives" with modern medicine but that only served for a very long time to make me nervous as hell all the time worrying about not "catching" every tiny detail and someone's injury or death would "be on my hands" as they say.......actually, for this reason and other events, I stopped taking care of peds patients in the ER, I just couldn't take the pressure of the "what if I cant/don't" Hum, but.....Not long ago, I heard my hometown pastor say, "All the things that have happened to you so far in your life have prepared you for what God wants you to do in this beautiful, painful world". I think this is true in many ways.....Anna, honey, I have told you before, and this is a good time to say it again, you saved my life/marriage/ and family in many ways by being across the street and inviting me into your heart/home/ family. Peace and love be with you my friend.
Melody Lane Sister

SouthMainMuse said...

Though I've yet to experience tragedy like the loss of your dear Jake -- this post speaks to all our fears. Everything seems fine. But what if. We live on the main thoroughfare in town. Every time the ambulance goes by I do a mental account where all my loved ones are. Since my mom has moved here -- she's now on the list. :). Now it was worse when my college student was in high school. Trying to geographically figure out where he was and what direction the ambulance was going. I know that's not the way God wants us to live. In fear. But it is so very hard with those we love. Especially our children. A hug to you. It's that not having control that is so very hard.

Patricia said...

Anna, your post made my heart ache, but so did the comments of all the others here too. We are all just Mothers (and Fathers), trying to do our best with the little knowledge of the universe that we have. All we can do in life is love our children with all our hearts, and that is exactly what you did and have continued to do.....

Lady Jennie said...

I had no idea they dropped the 2 breaths in CPR.

Which is not the point of this post, I know. I just . . . wish this cruel shock didn't happen to you - prepared or not.

The SilverLyne said...

Anna,

I don't believe a radio would have helped.
I live on Lawyers Road toward Hunter Mill. I had the news on all afternoon, there just wasn't enough communication to warn the citizens of impending disaster.

When I arrived home from work, Lawyers Road was blocked at my driveway due to high water and a daring rescue at the "S" curve. The emergency vehicles were assisting a man trapped in water in his car. During the rescue, a tree fell and brought down electrical wires. I believe all were brought to safety. Never heard about it on the news. It must have happened 2:30-3:30 ish (the first wave of flooding)

At 5:30, my son and I were outside clearing a clogged drain in our front yard (second wave of flooding). Perhaps 30 minutes later, the rescue vehicles (that were now resting in front of our house) took off with such speed and alarm we knew something else had happened, only this time at the bridge near Glencannon.

My hope is that our community will come up with a better system of warning people. One such system might already be in place. My husbands cell phone went off one night this year. It was a flood alert text from Fairfax County. Thats a step in the right direction.

So sorry for your loss,

A Speckled Trout said...

I never bought one of those radios because I thought that if I didn't show my fear that tragedy wouldn't call, but the truth is that I am frequently afraid that my turn will come and I will experience a loss like yours.

Anonymous said...

My heart still aches for you! I spent a long time crying out to our Lord for you on Friday as I spent a long time vacuuming while the rain was pouring down outside. I shared this with Lindsay Orr when I ran into her in Target last night. She too is praying for you all the time. This blog entry made me realize how unprepared we all are for such tragedy, but how prepared you are each day with God as your strength while also surrounded by so many prayers! I love you! Karen

Amy Henson said...

Unfortunately I understand the feelings perfectly. Well said

Amy Henson said...

Well said. I understand the feelings. Too well...

Anonymous said...

Wishing you well, Anna. Wishing you well, with all my heart.

Sorry I've not commented in so long.

Peace and good wishes to you and your family.

With love
K x

Arnebya said...

I am amazed at our ability to think back on things after a tragedy. All of the things we could have done come flooding into perspective. And it sucks. Because honestly, that radio may not have done a lick of good. It's so hard to turn off the what ifs, to not give in to the if only. And I wish it was different. I wish things were different.

IrishRN07 said...

I wish there was something I could do to ease the horrible burden of loss and "what if's" you carry. All I can do is tell you that in sharing your (and Jack's) story, you have profoundly affected my life and deepened my faith. In the face of the most terrible loss possible, you continue to be mother, teacher, writer and friend among many other beautiful and normal, every day things. I hope and pray that your burden is lifted, if only by a little bit, by knowing that.
xoxo Maureen

Alexa B said...

I know this game of "what ifs?" because I go through it all the time myself. Thinking of you and Jack... I know the holidays suck especially bad.

Heidi Cave said...

Thinking of you dear friend. My heart is with you.

Lisa C said...

There's just no way to be prepared for tragedy.

Thinking of you this season.

Japolina said...

Thinking of you anna.

Anonymous said...

you did everything right--- I have a son Jack's age, and I know in that circumstance, of COURSE he & his friends would want to be out there seeing everything firsthand!! I am so sorry this happened to your family. But it is NOT your fault in the least.


My son has juvenile arthritis, diagnosed when he was 12 after years of unknowns and suffering. I remember thinking, so, I didn't give him Tylenol, closely monitored his intake of food coloring, didn't let him eat very much candy, took him to the pediatrician, and did everything RIGHT. And now, I am voluntarily going to inject him with chemotherapy (which he begs and begs for no more shots), presumably for the rest of his life, with the risk of serious side effects. All of that caution for naught! Did everything right, to still have this outcome!

(and I am in no way comparing my situation to yours, please know that).

All that to say, you did everything right. Sometimes there is a different plan (there MUST be? I can't let myself think that there is no plan..) that we can't see the beauty of right now (because there HAS to be beauty, doesn't there??).

We live in a broken and fallen world, don't we.

Keely said...

I've been thinking of you and your family a lot lately...the strength you all must have to deal with what's constantly in your brains just astounds me. Peace to you all, friend.

Erin Margolin said...

I wish I had the words, Anna. But I don't. I break every time I try to think about what to type in this impossible space.

Just know that…things happen. And there's nothing we can do to prevent or stop them, despite whatever systems or plans we have in place.

xoxoxo

Keely said...

I've been thinking of you and your family a lot lately...and wondering at the strength it must take to handle the constant thoughts and memories in your mind. So I'm sending more strength. And peace.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

(((((HUGS))))) We own one too and it sits in the garage with our camping equipment. I don't think anything can prepare us for God's plan in our life. Every time I look at our Norfolk Pine I think of the bows I put on it two years ago for Jack. That tree is now way taller then the roof of the house!

Merry Christmas to all of you and wishing for everything wonderful in 2014! Love, Debby