“Jesus, honey, that movie really messed you up,” my husband says, tucking into his omelet. He grins wickedly across the table and mimics, “It’s over! It’s over!”

“Shut up!” I say, but I laugh. I know I’m a ridiculous creature. “I’m sorry. I don’t know how you put up with me. I’m a freak and a worrywart and emotionally wrecked about everything and you’re just this…rational…level person.”

He shrugs.

“No, seriously. You don’t freak out about anything. You’re just this calm, chill dude and you sit back and think things through while I’m clawing the ceiling. We’re so completely different. Gaa.”

My husband reaches for the hot sauce. “Well, I think part of it is that duh, you’re a woman.”

“Nice try, but I think I’m overly emotional, even by chick standards,” I say.

He considers for a second. “Maybe, but look at what you do–you’re a writer. Writers have to tap into the emotions of people and situations. Writers are feelers, in general, right? And then look at what I do for a living. I’m a radiologist. I have to be logical and calm and evaluative. Emotions are hazards. They get in the way and cloud my judgment.”

“Okay, point,” I grumble. “But I still hate how freakshow I am sometimes.”

“Hey,” he smiles, reaching across the table to squeeze my hand. “At least you’re never boring. Remember how my sister used to tell me growing up that I was ‘a robot?'”

“She didn’t mean it,” I say, but I feel a sharp pang of guilt, because twice in my life, I’ve thrown those words back in his face.

When I gave birth to my girls, I had two separate, completely different freaky and scary medical complications, both which can be fatal. My husband was at my side both times, calm and rational and absolutely in control of his faculties. He didn’t break a sweat, let alone seem concerned.

At the time, each instance seemed like a blessing, but when I got home, with the mess of new babies and post-partum hormones and sleep deprivation, I accused him of being cold and uncaring. Robotic.

Why was he not more concerned? Why didn’t he freak out–I mean, this is your wife here! Your wife who might die giving birth to your children? Where was the hand-wringing? The tears when things turned out okay? Was he so calm because he really didn’t care that much? Did I just not mean enough to him?

To my husband’s credit, he refrained (both times) from getting defensive or telling his hysterical wife that she was crazy. Which I was, but he didn’t say it. He just sighed and listened to my hormonal ranting and gave me a hug. Because he’s level-headed like that.

 

“Come on,” I say to him, pushing my plate aside. “Let’s go hang out by that beautiful pool. Because this vacation? Hate to tell you, but it’s gonna be OVER! Over, I tell you!”

***

“That guy’s out there again,” my husband says, looking across the pool area.

I study the man. He is standing in the deep end of the pool, leaning in a corner, reading a hardback novel. “That seems so weird. Who reads in the pool? He stood there like that for hours yesterday.”

My husband hands me the sunscreen. “No idea. People are strange birds.”

“It’s getting crowded out here this morning,” I say.

Suddenly, there’s a commotion at one end of the pool and a woman lets out this horrible, gut-wrenching howl. It doesn’t even sound human–or animal, even. It’s a sound not of this world; I’ve never heard anything like it in my life, and then the shouting begins.

“Ohmygod! Get her out of the water! OUT of the water!”

“She’s facedown! Crapcrapcrap, she’s floating!”

“Helpsomebodyhelp! She’s not breathing. She is not breathing. Ohmygod!”

My husband is already on his feet and running toward the commotion and the crowd that’s quickly formed and I strain to see around the bodies. All I can see is one little, white arm on the ground. It seems impossibly thin and small.

“Get out of the way,” I bellow. “Doctor coming through! We have a doctor! He’s a doctor! Let him through! Everything’s okay, he’s a doctor!”

But of course, it’s not okay, and it’s a moronic and asshole thing for me to be yelling but I’m not thinking and I really need things to be okay and I’m furious at the gawkers blocking his access, and even more people run to crowd the area, just as others–mainly women grasping young children–flee the scene, faces contorted in horror.

My husband crouches next to the girl, sticks his hand in her mouth to clear her airway, tilts her head to the side and calmly instructs the little girl’s father how to provide her with breath as my husband begins chest compressions.

“Sarah! Sarah Baby. NO! NoNoNoNoSarah! PleaseGod. No. No.” The mother laces her fingers into her scalp and instinctively clutches her belly.

It is horribly, eerily quiet except for the mother’s pleas and the low sound of my husband’s voice saying, “Okay, another round of breaths. Let’s go. Now.”

Another man breaks through the crowd and crouches on the other side of the little girl and confers with my husband. My husband nods and the man assists and they do a violent, hard press and suddenly a massive quantity of water and vomit spews out of her little bird-boned body onto the pavement. Her eyes snap open and she wails in loud, shaky bursts, struggling for breath.

It’s not more than a few minutes, but it seems like it takes forever for the hotel medics to arrive. By then, my husband is back at my side; as soon as the girl opens her eyes and has the breath–and the presence of mind–to scream, my husband removes himself from the scene. He lets the medics take over and rubs my back and says quietly, “It’s okay. She’s lucid. She’s going to be okay.” Because of course, I’m a puddle of wreck. And of course, he is not.

The wait for the ambulance seems interminable. Again, it’s probably a matter of minutes, but it seems like a damn long wait. Sarah cannot stop crying and screaming and her mother is hovering over her, saying “Sarah, you’re doing a really good job, honey. A good job, Sarah. You’re doing good, Sarah,” in a heavy Boston accent. It sounds like “Sahrrrr-ah” and she says it over and over and I’m not sure how much longer I can hear her do that, but the ambulance comes and whisks the three of them away.

They leave and the atmosphere at the pool is nervous and unsettled and creepy. Everyone returns to their lounge chairs but nobody talks and the air is charged with this weird energy, an unnerving restlessness. The men seem particularly unable to calm down; they pace and fidget and can’t quit looking at the patch of concrete where Sarah used to be.

“Are you okay?” I say quietly.

“Yeah.” He exhales deeply and nods. “Yeah, I’m okay.” He shakes his head a little. “I’m really glad that other guy showed up. With kids, it’s hard, you know. To figure out the pressure, the compression. They’re so delicate when they’re little and there’s not much room to maneuver; it’s so easy to crack a rib. I wasn’t sure…”

“You didn’t have time to be sure,” I say. “You just did it.”

“Yeah, but. The way she kept crying like that. After. I’m betting we broke a rib or two.”

“It’s okay. Don’t be so hard on yourself,” I say. “I mean, consider the fucking alternative.”

We busy ourselves with books and podcasts but people keep looking at us, looking over at my husband for his reaction, and he is trying very hard to seem normal. Nobody approaches us, but the scrutiny is palpable.

Finally, after the dust settles, a man a few lounge chairs down comes over. “Hey, man,” he says, shifting from foot to foot. “I just wanted to say something to you because, you know, what you did back there…that was like…I mean, you were so fast. You didn’t even hesitate.”

My husband shakes his head back and forth. “It wasn’t just me. That other guy came in and helped…”

“Yeah, but you were so calm, man. You just kept it together and gave instructions what to do, and damn. Like, how you kept your cool, I dunno.”

My husband and I share a look.

“It sounds weird but in a way it’s kind of funny,” I say to the man. “We were just talking about that at breakfast this morning. He can keep calm in the craziest of situations, and I’m this shitstorm of nerves. In a crisis situation, you don’t want me on your team, believe me.”

“I don’t know. I’m not feeling so calm,” my husband says, laughing a little, but his eyes don’t look right. “I think a stiff drink is in order pretty soon.”

Pretty soon, drink in hand, we wander into the pool and look out at the ocean. I lean my head on his shoulder.

The novel-reading man wades over to us, holding his book carefully above the water.

“Hey. Look. I just wanted to let you know that you’ve inspired me today,” he says. “I’m going to take a CPR refresher course when I get back home. Seriously. I was in the service a long time ago and learned but it’s been years and years, and just, what you did today made me realize that that’s something you shouldn’t let slide, you know? All of us, not knowing what to do. That little girl. She’s what, maybe even four? That little girl.”

***

That night, my husband and I toss and turn in our bed. Neither of us sleeps much, and we’re up and down in the night, taking turns getting drinks of water, popping Advil, using the toilet, kicking off the covers, putting the covers back on.

At 5am the alarm sounds on my husband’s phone. I turn to him and kiss his cheek.

“It’s over,” I say. “Let’s go home.”

 

{ 11 comments }

Hello, Readers! We are back from our 3-day vacation in Cancun, Mexico, home of the white sand beaches and the shockingly blue, deliciously warm water. It really is a beautiful place and we love the resort, despite having a few leetle mishaps here and there on vacations past. But those vacations? Those were week-long vacations with little girls in tow. It’s completely natural to encounter a few snafus when you’re traveling for that extent of time with children, is it not? Absolutely.

I was certain that this little getaway would be snafu-free because a) we were only going to spend 3 full days in Mexico and b) the girls were in Texas, with my husband’s extended family, so it was just us chickens and c) we have already paid our dues–and more–to the Travel Gods (those dickweeds), so the way I figure it, we’re good to travel snafu-free for the rest of our lives.

Heh.

Perhaps I asked for it, because the day before we left for vacation, I was so organized, so on top of my game, that I was beginning to gloat a little. Take that, Travel Gods! I am boss of your ass. I had myself packed, the girls packed, the refrigerator cleaned out, the Mozz-man booked at doggy daycare, the cat booked for periodic visitation, the medicine bag stuffed with any and all things we could possibly need, the travel electronics/entertainment charged and ready…

Heck, I was so organized that I delivered soup and lasagna for 10 to Miss M.’s school, because we feed the staff on parent/teacher conference nights. And I made dinner for us, using up all of the perishables in our refrigerator. Boss, I tell you.

Then the morning arrived, and our vacation began to resemble a strange game of High/Low.

High: everyone wakes up on time, breakfast is eaten, showers happen, spirits are good, and when I shout, “We need to be out of the door in 5 minutes,” nobody freaks out.

Low: until a minute later, when someone does. I hear a howl come from the girls’ playroom. “The cat just peed all over my Christmas bean bag chair,” Miss M. wails. She bursts into tears. Jesus. “Honey, can you handle this?” I holler, busying myself with unplugging appliances. He investigates. “Umm, I think we should handle this when we get back,” he says. “Are you nuts?” I say.  “It’s cat urine. Cat urine is never, ever, something you can leave until later. The entire house will reek.” “But…” he says. I cut him off. “Let me grab the upholstery cleaner.”  I walk into the playroom. And then I get it. The cat piss isn’t really the big problem. The problem is, my husband tried to take off the soiled cover of the bean bag chair, only to discover that there’s a hole IN the bean bag chair. The GI-normous bean bag chair that is not, actually, filled with beans but little, teeny, round balls of…I don’t know, silica or something…and now the balls are spilled everywhere, all over the floor. Curses are thrown. Bean bag chair is thrown out, into the garage. I’m maniacally vacuuming up little white balls that shoot all over the place rather than going into the vacuum. “Are these fucking things poisonous to cats?” I screech. Because yeah, that would be awesome to come home to a dead cat in the house.

High: despite the late start, and having to drop Mozzy at day care, we still get to the airport at an okay time–we won’t miss our flight. Exhale.

Low: when we open the trunk of the car to get the luggage, I look at the contents of the trunk and say, “Uh, babe? The blue duffel? The one with all of the girls’ clothes in it?”  He looks at me blankly. “Where was it?” I think for a minute. “Upstairs, by M.’s room.” Sheeeit. Nothing like dropping your kids off at the in-laws without a stitch of clothing, or toothpaste, or hairbrushes, or undies. We are parents of the year.

High: we do have the carry-on bag with the electronics/snacks/amusement for the flight.

Low: D.’s inhaler is in the other duffel, she has a cold, and has a history of wheezing and VOMITING on airplanes without the said inhaler. Hoo-boy.

High: the flight is vomit free, the girls arrive in Texas (albeit bare-handed) and we settle in on our flight to Mexico, cocktails and in-flight movies in hand.

Low: my in-flight movie is “Gone Girl.” “Gone Girl” is a very fucked up, very anti-marriage, very terrifying movie to watch before you go on a romantic getaway with your husband. I watch, horrified, as Nick and Amy Dunne say hideous things to each other and do even worse. By the time our plane lands, I am certain that my husband secretly hates me, is screwing a twentysomething tart and that my marriage is over.

High: we arrive in time for a dinner over the lapping waves and indulge in icy martinis, succulent tuna tartare and juicy beef tenderloin. Exhausted and sated, we fall into bed and sleep like stones.

Low: the first thing my husband says to me in the morning is, “I really don’t feel so good.” This is the man who has the immune system made of adamant. I feel his forehead: hot and clammy. He has the chills and says his body aches all over. He spends all day in bed. I sulk by the pool with a book and spend the whole day obsessing over “Gone Girl.” What am I going to do when my husband leaves me? Is he really sick up in that room or is he faking it, trying to gather the courage to tell me he doesn’t want to be married any more? Oh my God, is that what he’s doing up there? How bad is it going to suck to be 45 and single? Oh, wait, I have a birthday next week. 46 and single. That night, I eat a room service club sandwich, watch my husband toss and turn in bed, and despair.

High: morning dawns and hubs feels fine. We walk hand-in-hand on the beach, tilt our faces up to the sun, take a dip in the infinity pool, eat fresh seafood and have a happy hour drink at the swim-up bar. As the sun starts to set and the weather cools, we decide to grab another drink and head to the hot tub overlooking the beach.

Low: once in the hot tub, we get cornered by some loudmouth blowhard from Boston who talks and talks and talks and we cannot get rid of him. Suddenly, my husband looks at his watch and says, “Jesus honey, we have to get out of this thing. Do you know that we’ve been in here almost two hours?”

Low: it is extremely unhealthy to spend the day in the sun, have a couple of drinks and spend two hours in a hot tub. I’m fucking delirious. Before dinner even arrives, I morph into a weeping puddle of nerves and sob to my husband, “It’s over. I know it’s over. You’re leaving me, aren’t you? I know you’re leaving; I can tell. When were you going to tell me? Oh my God! Our marriage is over.” My husband helps me lurch to bed, hands me a bottled water and three aspirin and whispers in my ear, “You. Are. Nuts.”

 

**to be continued**

{ 9 comments }

Hello, Readers!

Just a few quick things for you today. First, I’m over at the Huffington Post with this essay about Valentine’s Day and sisterhood. If you have the time, I’d be so grateful if you’d visit me there? As many of you know, I don’t share many stories about my sister, because it’s a complicated relationship, but this is a story that’s worth sharing, I think. My hope is that it will leave a smile on your face.

 

Second, I’m taking a brief hiatus from blogging because I’m sneaking away for a quick jaunt to soak in some sun and sand this weekend. I’m sure you can understand my excitement–a few days away from winter is a blessing, indeed. I tend to get a case of The Februarys, so lets hope that this is the antidote. And please, send me some white light and well wishes…the Travel Gods tend to like to fuck with me, but not this time!!!

 

Happy early Valentine’s Day to you all. I hope you enjoy the holiday with someone you hold dear.

Love,

Kitch

{ 3 comments }

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