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An Odd Occurrence

Donuts: the breakfast of distraction. The soft, warm, fresh-baked, sugary rings release the endorphins I need to jump start this wait. I don’t just eat my typical one or two donuts, but instead I go for three. The magical third made for a good length of euphoria. I rarely indulge on these artery clogging, yet decadent, treats. I can think of no better day to do so. I have nothing to lose until our world as we know it may be rocked off kilter.

Wiping off my sugar-coated fingers, I am disappointed to see it is only 8AM. Feeling the fructose-laden exhilaration fade, my thoughts about this ominous rendezvous with the ultrasound machine are lucid. With the passing of the nighttime hours, I have a slightly different perspective on how things have gone, and where they might go. Positivity slithers into my ideation, working hard to infiltrate the negativity. Much to my relief, the acute panic is gone. Petite thoughts emerge: maybe things will be okay! Maybe there was a mistake! Maybe it won’t be as bad as we thought!

“How do you think today’s appointment will go? Do you think we’ll get answers?” With no more sugary-confection distractor available, I couldn’t ignore the elephant in the room any longer.

“I don’t know, Babe. I hope so. Let’s just go and see what happens.” Within his cool words I detect leariness.

 “I’m nervous about this. I feel like I have no idea what’s going to happen, and what to expect. I really just want today to be over.”

 “Me too. You’ll be OK. We’ll be OK.”

***

Even in the midst of a brisk Wisconsin winter, the air is relatively mild today, perfect for a walk up the block to the hospital. There is little snow to trudge through, and we readily carry our heavily-clad selves up the street, mittened-hand in mittened-hand. The hospital looms ahead of us, with it’s tall frame menacing. Taking deep breaths, watching the condensed air float from my lips like the white plumes released from a chimney stack, I crave some peace and clarity in this murkiness.

We reach the end of the block, and wait to cross the street until a right-turning car passes. After a few seconds he still doesn’t move.

“Let’s go,” Jason says, pulling my arm. I didn’t see the man move, or wave us across. I glance over my shoulder, trying to scurry across the street. I do not recognize this guy at all, which in this friendly neighborhood is unusual. I can hardly believe what I see; He appears to be sleeping behind the wheel! I nudge Jason, “Look at that guy.”  Safely out of the street, we stop, and gaze back in the direction of the car.

I finally ask, “Should we do something? At least see if he’s okay?” He still hasn’t moved. His head is tilted back on the headrest, eyes to the ceiling. I quickly create possible scenarios of what happened to this guy. He could have narcolepsy, or maybe suffered a heart attack.

“Stay here,” Jason says. “I’ll go check.” He bravely ventures back across the street to the car. I stay put, shivering, yet too intrigued by what will happen to care. Jason approaches the car, carefully, one step at a time. He pauses.

“Get closer!” my voice cuts through the cold air.

He looks at me incredulously, begrudgingly taking a couple steps more. He leans down slowly, I assume so as to not scare the man. Perhaps it is as much for his own sake, afraid of what he will discover. He peers into the window, nose barely escaping the touch of the window, and then slowly, and gently, raps his knuckle on the window. The man’s head slams forward, startled, jumping. He spins toward the sound, and he sees Jason, cracking his door open. Jason has a few words with him, and then jogs back across the street to me. With a squeal, the car suddenly takes off around the corner, driving a curved path down the street, door flying wide open.

My eyes widen with surprise. “Jason, was he all right? Look!” I point. “He’s driving off with his door hanging open!”

Jason shrugged, clearly less disturbed than me. “He said he was fine. He seemed surprised that I even asked him if he was okay.”

The man was gone, and we felt a sense of triumph at our attempt at being good samaritans. This bizarre occurrence has made me feel, for a fleeting moment, that things can be light and fun. Life can be like it used to be, before yesterday happened to us. That man seemed more screwed up, more confused, more desperate to escape reality than we did in this moment. The giggling that ensues is comforting, freeing. I squeeze Jason’s hand and playfully tap him on the arm.

A moment later, reality quickly sets in again, as we are now faced with the hospital, and I again remember what today is really about.

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