The Artist In The Ambulance Part 1 HERE.
The cab pulled up to our hotel. And slowly, Dave and I drifted back to the room. It was like the worst walk of shame ever. It felt like a One Tree Hill scene that would have been in slow motion with some melodic indie song playing (yeah, I was a big OTH fan — no shame!) Him, disheveled in an off-white under shirt with his shoes untied. Me, in a mini black dress carrying his wet shirt with every hour I’d been awake being worn very visibly on my face.
Immediately, once we got to the room, Dave laid down on the bed and fell asleep. Again. It was like the transitional phase from awake to sleeping was non existent. I sat down on the edge of the bed. The tears started pouring out of me. I let it out. And as quickly as Dave could go from awake to asleep, I had gone from sobbing to austere.
I was done being the damsel in distress.
I was going home. Right now. That is all I could think to do. Get home.
There was no printed itinerary. Our “itinerary” was lying next to me. Passed out or asleep. Drooling. So I googled Frontier Airlines. I knew that was our airline. I saw that the first flight back to Denver was at 6:05. I packed up our room. Got Dave dressed and put him in the car. Checked out of the hotel. And loaded directions on my phone from Napa to SFO. And thus began the 2 hour drive to the airport. In the middle of the night. In a car I couldn’t even begin to figure out. And that damn loneliness. It started to creep back in.
Your emotions are each like individual dials. And for every turn of one dial, an opposite turn of another. As loneliness crept in. My fight. It disappeared. Right there. As I took wrong exits. Got lost. Got scared. Though my man was passed out by my side, he was a shell, and I couldn’t have felt more alone.
My people. I missed them.
I eventually found my way to the airport. And before returning the car, I’d stopped to fill it with gas. I grabbed every electrolyte filled fruity beverage I could find and practically poured them down Dave’s throat. He was sort of “coming to”. He was awake. Just felt like death. We returned the car and began the trek through the airport. He was constantly wanting to sit down. He kept saying he was going to vomit. I didn’t care. There was flight at 6:05. It was 5:15. I was carrying all of our bags through the airport. As Dave barely made it behind me.
“Come on. You can do this. Come on.”
— total role reversal.
With minutes before boarding time, I managed to change our flights and we rushed on to our gate. I literally had to pull metal heart monitor stickers off his legs and chest that were still scattered all over his body. As we rushed through security, it felt like Weekend at Bernie’s. Like he was just a body that I was trying to stage as a living person. Everything’s fine! Nothing to see here!
We made it to our flight. The last ones to board. And they closed the doors behind us. That sound. The door closing. Deep sigh. I’d made it. But in all of this chaos, we’d almost forgotten what was driving us to get home. We had no idea how bad his Dad was going to be. In Dave’s drug-induced state he’d stop momentarily and realize what he was going back to. He’d cry out of frustration.
“Fuck. What did he do? Why did he do that stupid race. I just pray pray pray that he’s ok. He could be a vegetable.”
If you know Dave’s Dad, you know how obnoxiously smart and determined he is. Dave heard terms like “brain bleeding” and “skull fracture” and he immediately feared mental damage. I just don’t think he could picture his father being anything but the man he’d always known and loved.
I spent the few minutes before take off calling my mom and filling her in. I texted my mom our babysitter’s number and told her to figure out getting the boys to our apartment. I would meet her there. And Dave was coordinating with his step mom. She had a strong facade of patience and calm. But we knew there was no way she wanted our kids sleeping in her house at that moment. That she needed to go be with her man. Dave’s father. And, though it killed me, I turned off my phone. For the next 2 hours, we’d need to just trust that the people around us were ok and that things were getting figured out. We took off. And all I could think of was how desperately I wanted to hear my man tell me what he always does…
“It’s going to be ok. I’ve got you.”
But Dave was sick that flight. He was NOT feeling well. And about half way through he finally fell asleep. And I sat there watching him. Staring at his face. His lips. Making sure the color was still in them. Running my hand down his back to make sure he wasn’t sweating. Turning the air on him. Closing his window.
I was scared on that flight. Was he going to pass out again? Were we through the worst of it? Was he ok?
And somehow. By the grace of God. We made it to Denver. And once again. I carried all of our bags through the airport as Dave walked and would sit. Then walk again. Then sit. One foot in front of the other. His eyes down to the ground. He was much more awake now. More coherent. But still very much in pain.
And then, on the drive home, in an instant. He looked over at me. Took my hand. Squeezed it the way we do Lucas’. And my eyes filled with tears. That man of mine. I could tell he was back. His appreciation for what I’d just done. His love for me. His relief to be home. It was all right there on his face.
And then we were home. And my mom was there at our apartment. With our kids. It hadn’t even been 24 hours and that moment of seeing those incredible kids again was beyond words. With everything that had happened. We found ourselves both squeezing each of them just that much tighter. And they — of course — were oblivious to everything. Just the bundles of joy that they always are. Ugh. To be young. To be oblivious.
My Mom. In these times she really shows her true colors. She has this way of taking over in situations like this. And even doing those extra little things you’d never think of. She had cleaned our apartment. She had cleared her day to drive Dave to the hospital to see his dad — knowing Dave would be in no place to drive. And Dave did finally get to go see his Dad. And, no, his dad wasn’t a vegetable. He wasn’t slurring. He was pumped full of drugs. But when Dave heard him asking obnoxiously intelligent questions to the doctors, he knew this too would pass.
Loneliness. One emotion. The result of so many different things. My life can feel so insane sometimes. These 3 little children. This tiny apartment. Our families practically fighting for our time. But loneliness has nothing on me. And I am truly blessed for the chaos and brilliance that fills my days.
My mom. Brooks with his smile. Lucas with that hug that means so much more than your average hug. Roman. My sweet girl who — thank God — wedged her way into our lives. I missed that little one. And my man.
I was home. And a true home is the antitheses of loneliness.