I’m just going to start this off by letting anyone who reads this know – this isn’t going to be funny. It’s going to be very serious, probably a little “rambly”, and coming from a strong emotional state so bear with me.
There are few calls we expect in our lives that we know we’re going to eventually get. Those calls that no one wants to ever receive. The loss of a parent, an emergency hospital trip for a child, a random health issue for a spouse.
Today, I received a call. A call that no one wants to get. A call that happens, but I never expected would happen to me.
You see, this weekend was the weekend for a friend of mines bachelorette party. I’m not in the wedding, but my two absolute best friends on the planet – matching tattoos – never find another like them, friends are in it. Along with other long term, close friends, including the bride. I was invited to the bachelorette weekend, but had to decline because I had already planned a family trip to California this week.
My friends and I made jokes about how they were stuck in the cold, it was going to snow on the East Coast, I should be forced to be there, but noooo I chose sunny, 70 degree, snowless, California.
It seemed normal, aside from my confusion with the time change. I would watch their snap stories, check their instagrams, see all the fun they were having. Truthfully feeling a little jealous of the memories they were making without me.
I saw on many of their stories how the snow caused their party limo to be stuck on the side of a road because the road was shut down. Knowing my friends though, they made the best of that situation too. I told my family and other friends who weren’t there about the limo. We were cracking jokes about their situation.
I’d noticed no one snapped in a while. My texts weren’t being responded to. Again, I thought nothing of it. I mean, my texts weren’t anything spectacular. Maybe they were living in the moment instead of snapping, there was a significant time change, and they were all likely hungover I assumed.
Then it happened. The Call.
I want to preface that everything could be much much worse. I’ve actually seen it be much worse, but I’ll get to that.
It was about 4:30 in sunny California. My emotions were all over the place as they’ve been lately. I was driving with my family to meet my cousins to go take out a Duffy Boat. It was going to be a great night. Then I get a call from one of my two best friends. I almost send it to voicemail because I’m in a car and thought that it’d be weird to answer. But, this friend and I never really talk on the phone so I say F it and answer.
She gets right to the chase.
Emily: “Cait, before I say anything I want you to know everyone is fine. “Sally” doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it so don’t mention it, “Jen” doesn’t want anyone to know yet, and “Alice” doesn’t want anyone to know what she did”
Emily: “Last night, our party limo was stuck on a road and the driver decided to do a 3 point turn to get out of it. There was a car coming, he was going really fast, especially in the snow, and he plowed into the limo, he t-boned us. Everyone is alive Cait, but it’s really bad.”
This is a call I never thought I’d get. This isn’t a call I should get. My friends are all great people, they contribute to society, they have well paying jobs, they work hard and party very infrequently.
Me: “Jesus Christ, how is everyone, what happened?!”
Emily: “Well I kind of blacked out, most of us have concussions. “Sally” saw the whole thing, she wasn’t drinking. She’s really scarred, she banged her head so hard on the windshield. “Jen” was screaming the whole time at the guy that hit us. She kept screaming “you killed her!” because “Alice” couldn’t find a pulse on “Mary.” She started doing CPR until the ambulance arrived. “Mary” broke her back in like 3 places. “Karen” was really messed up. She lost a bunch of teeth. Her face was covered in blood. I had to take off my clothes to apply pressure to the wound. There was just so much blood. Everyone is banged up, those two are still in the hospital, but the rest of us are going to be ok. It was scary though Cait, horrific.”
That’s the call I got. Here I am. Pining over minuscule things in my day to day life. Thinking about the girl on Bumble who won’t message me back when all I want to do is meet her. Taking in beautiful California. Not wanting to go back to work this week. Questioning why this post didn’t get that many likes on Facebook. All the while, unbeknownst to me, I could’ve lost every friend that means the world to me, friends I could not live without, friends that are more than friends to me, all in one clean sweep.
I could’ve been in that limo. I should’ve been in that limo. Timing was the problem. I could’ve been sitting where Mary and Karen were sitting. I could’ve been where Jen was, causing her to be closer to Mary and Karen, causing her to get hurt as well.
My friends all saw something, experienced something, that I’ll never know. All I have is this call.
This call is enough for me to put my life in perspective. To stop worrying about the social media, to take life less seriously, to truly experience things.
When my cousin was in college, ironically the one I came to visit in California, he went out with some friends on a snowy night in New Haven. He was supposed to go back to the dorms in the first car, but chose to go in the second. The first car got into a horrific accident. Some of his friends died, some have lifelong injuries. He made a call – to my mom. My mom had to go to Yale Hospital at 4 am to help my cousin because his friends were dead and dying, he could’ve been dead or dying, but he ended up going in the second car.
I don’t know how to feel. I just know I needed to type this out.
I know I feel fragile. I know I feel helpless. I’m the mother to my friends. I’m the one they call when they need a ride, when their car broke down, (before Uber) when they had too much to drink. I’m the one they look to when they need someone to be strong. I’m the one who will lend money out whenever times are tough. I’m their protector. I feel like I wasn’t there to protect them.
I feel small.