If we were having coffee this morning, I think I’d have to send you home before I got myself into trouble. I’ve had things happen in my life this week that I’m not allowed to share, and I am not good at keeping my mouth shut. A few sips of coffee, a couple minutes of friendly conversation, and I’d relax enough to start blurting out things that could cost me my job.
My ex used to say that my mouth “runs like a whippoorwill’s ass.” I know nothing about whippoorwills or their asses, but I have to assume he didn’t mean that as a compliment.
At any rate, this was one of those weeks that was just full of stuff I need to talk about . . . but can’t. It was also full of healthier eating, turmeric tea, and several frustrating attempts at meditation. “Just relax and empty your mind,” I was told. Honey, at my age, if I empty it, there’s no guarantee I’m ever filling it up again. “Let your mind roam,” they said. My mind has no sense of direction; if I let it roam too far in any direction, there’s a very strong possibility that it’s never coming back.
But there’s one direction my mind keeps taking right now, and that’s where I have to tread carefully.
I got to help someone this week. I got to hold a hand and give comfort to someone who needed it.
Something I don’t share often is the fact that my mother used to teach First Aid/CPR classes when I was a kid. My sisters and I would be the pretend victims for her classes to practice on. I used to love putting on the fake wounds and artificial blood so I could sprawl out on the classroom floor and pretend to be dying. It really appealed to my dramatic nature.
I got to be really good at faking a heart attack or insulin reaction. I could pretend a pass-out like nobody’s business. And the fake wounds with glass or sticks poking out of them were my favorites; I sometimes “borrowed’ them and stuck them under my clothes to freak out my friends at school the next day.
When it was time for the final exams in Mom’s classes, we really stepped up our game and staged some majorly dramatic accident scenes for her students. I loved it. Exam week for them was like a Broadway opening for me.
I was in middle school when she quit. Mom was even more of a drama queen than I am, but she rarely talked about the event that changed things for her. She had to use her training only once, performing CPR on an elderly gentleman in a parking lot, and she couldn’t save him. In that moment, I think she realized that knowing how to save a life wasn’t the same as actually having to do it.
She got scared.
I took First Aid/CPR certification classes as soon as I was old enough to do so. It was only natural, considering the environment I grew up in. And when I became an aunt and started helping out with my nieces and nephews, my sisters insisted that I become certified in Infant/Child First Aid/CPR as well. When my ex-husband, the Big Guy, became a volunteer firefighter and Medical First Responder, he urged me to take some classes and renew my certifications, but I let it all slide.
Looking back, I think I was scared. I don’t want to be responsible for life and death. I want to be the one in the back of the room who stays calm enough to dial 9-1-1 while everyone else is spinning out of control.
About ten years ago, the Big Guy saved a man’s life right in front of me. We were in a restaurant when an elderly man at the next table collapsed, and I held his wife’s trembling hands while my husband used CPR and then an AED to re-start a heart. They took the man away in an ambulance and we went back to our dinner as though nothing had happened, but reaction hit while we were on our way home later that night.
The Big Guy suddenly pulled over to the side of the road and started laughing. “I feel really good,” he told me. “I saved a life tonight.” He laughed and laughed, but his eyes were moist and I couldn’t do anything but hold his hand.
I remember that his hand was shaking.
This week wasn’t as dramatic as all of that. There was no real First Aid needed — which is a good thing because my certifications have all lapsed. I don’t think I would have known what to do if any kind of real medical intervention had been necessary. But once again, I held a trembling hand and offered comfort.
I was needed.
I helped someone.
I don’t know exactly what this is that I’m feeling, or what to do about it. But I think . . . I think I need to help people in some way. I don’t know how or where, but I need to do more. I mean, it goes without saying that I realize I need to get recertified in everything. Top of the to-do list. Find out how much it costs, get signed up, and go to class. But after that? I just don’t know.
I have too many physical limitations to even consider being a first responder of any kind. But I need to add something to my life that allows me to help. To hold a trembling hand when needed.
Something’s got to change. I think maybe this is part of what I’ve been struggling with in recent months as my kids grow up and need me less and less every day. I need to be needed. I need to help. I just don’t know who, what, when, where, or how. I feel restless, like I’m looking for something . . . but I don’t know what it is or where to start looking.