(Be warned, I curse a little in this one.)
I know that you’ve had one of those days before. You know, the day when your neighbors woke you up at 6 am, your building ran out of hot water, you had no food in the fridge for breakfast…(insert first world problem here). I had one of those days yesterday when everything annoyed me, least of which was the fact that I’d been working a 38 hour shift. My partner talked non-stop for 3 hours (I wish I was kidding), my boss jerked our truck around all day, I had a bunch of personal crap to work through. Those days suck, huh? You feel like total crap…but for me, when we get that one call, it really puts it all in perspective.
On Wednesday, we transported an elderly man (who was no more than skin and bones, really) with severe difficulty breathing. I could hear him struggling for breath over the diesel engine as we roared down the highway, while his wife of forty years silently cried next to me. Because we both knew this was it for him. This was going to be the last time he was taken to the hospital. His little grandkids were blissfully unaware back at the house, but his grown children knew. You could see it in their eyes. I asked the wife if she was ok, and as she turned towards me, her face crumpled and the tears flowed freely down her face as she tried to wipe them away. She waited until she was away from her kids to do it, but she knew. We all did. He knew it. He was exhausted, and in the last stretch. I had to blink away tears as I turned back to the road and listened to my partner work his ass off to keep him breathing.
It brought back memories of the very first time I was in an ambulance, riding in the passenger seat just like this woman, but it was my grandfather in the back who was struggling to breathe. I remember the panic of being shuttled to the waiting room in the ER while the EMT’s whisked my grandpa away to a bed. And how fitting for that all to come rushing back…his last ambulance ride before he passed away 4 years ago today.
I miss him every. single. day. When I see a picture he drew, or a snapshot of the two of us, I wish that I spent more time with him, I wish that I called him more after I moved here. We both knew that when I left, I wouldn’t see him again; and that my friends, is a shitty feeling. The worst. I still tear up when I think about him & how much I missed out on when I was younger, because hanging out with my grandpa just didn’t sound super cool. He was an artistic freaking genius who took blocks of clay and made them into the most beautiful bronze statues that you ever did see. He was commissioned to repair the statue of Father Junipero Serra at the San Juan Capistrano Mission when I was little, and I remember being SO PROUD that he was picked.
Even near the end, when I’d walk into his apartment, he’d smile and say, “Hey babe, how was your day today?” and even if it was a crappy day, he made me feel like it really wasn’t so bad. Sometimes we’d just watch old Western movies, or I’d rummage through his art tools and see what he’d let me take home. He would have turned 87 last month. I miss you, Grandpa. I wish you could see me now…you’d be so proud. Your girl made it and is doing ok. I love you to pieces.
In order to not be all gloom and doom today, tomorrow marks the Fireman & I’s 4 year anniversary. I guess it’s true that you have to lose someone close to you to gain another, huh? Nice one, God.