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.