Bumps, Potholes and Sliding into the Ditch
Thursday, July 30, 2009
My doc was happy with my progress this month. I was able to take a situation, and despite her caution to not do something, I did it anyway. It's been causing me pain for years, but suffering from it was not doing any one any good, and I couldn't change any of the things in the past, no matter how much I thought I did.
In handling this problem, I pulled it out and examined it from as many different angles as I could. For each angle, using the cognitive therapy skills I have learned in therapy, I dissected what I "could" have done differently. At first, I found a difference in every thing that I had done - then, it dawned on me that I was judging that boy by the standards I have learned as a man.
After this. "Well, Duh" moment, I went back and looked at each thing from the angle that that young man would have seen things. It helps to recognize that at the time I had the interpersonal skills of a duck - way behind the skills my contemporaries had. With the experiences that I had then, there wasn't a thing I could have done differently. I didn't know how to do it differently. I found I wasn't really stupid, just ignorant.
Then I went back and tried to find where my last chance to do anything was. It was just prior to my going to Vietnam. By this time, you may have a feeling I am talking about my relationship with a person of the opposite sex, You're right.
The lady in question had been my best friend's girlfriend all through high school. Can you see my problem? I had a crush on a young woman and there was no way in blazes I was going to act on it.
We started college, choosing to go to different schools in the same area. In early October he asked if I'd like to double date with him and we'd all go to a party. I had a problem in that the day of the party, I was working as a night assistant at an A&W Drive-up and wouldn't be off until about 12:30 AM. "No problem, we'll go to the party, then come get you when you get off>"
OK, that was the plan. I got off work, changed clothes and waited in my car for him to pick me up. About a mile down the main street through town, I could see fire engines, ambulances and police, but didn't think anything about it. At 1:30, I figured something had come up and I drove home.
About 3:30 AM, my dad came in to tell me that Jon's mom was on the phone. I figured he hadn't made it back home and she was calling to find out if I knew where he was. That wasn't the purpose of the call at all.
She asked if I could come over to the house. Jon had been in a terrible wreck and had suffered massive injuries and was in surgery. Bam - out the door.
I made it to their house and got the news. Jon and his girlfriend had been on the road - coming to pick me up, when an over-the-road driver on uppers and booze had driven over them at a stop light. There were no brake marks until he was 20 yards past the intersection - she had been killed outright.
Wham! Guilt trip of all guilt trips. They were on the way to pick me up and I had lost the two best friends I had. I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart, but I maintained my manly, tearless composure and sort of zoned out. When I came back into my body, Evelyn was talking about a girl named Lori. Who was she and why did anyone care? Just listening, I found out that Jon and his high school sweetheart had broken up three weeks before.
Evelyn asked me to call and see if she could come over and be with her. I called, got her dad on the phone, explained what had happened and asked if she could come over to Evelyn's house and help her. Of course.
I drove over, picked her up and went back to Jon's house. After a fresh outpouring of grief, I noticed it was about 7:30 in the morning - where had the hours gone. My mom was a nurse and I knew that the third shift was exchanging notes with the first shift, and I was elected to call and check on Jon.
I called, got the Charge Nurse and explained who I was and the purpose of my call. She said, "I'm sorry, He passed away at 7:23. Since you are a friend of the family, would you please let them know?"
It took me a little while to get my voice back, but I was finally able to face the people in the living room and tell them. I never want to have to tell a mother that her child is dead, again. The uncontrolled anguish was almost more then I could stand.
After about two hours had passed, a doctor had come to the house (see, I told you I was old - doctors still made house calls) and had given Evelyn a shot and she went to bed. I took my best friend home.
In those days, seat belts were barely heard of, and on the way to her home she clung to me so tight it felt like she was trying to crawl into my skin. Can you imagine the conflict this 17 year old kid was going through?
If you think that writing about this part of my life has been difficult, you'd get the gold ring. I need to pause here because I can't go on any further today.