Yesterday was not a good day. Among my circle of friends: one’s father died, one’s mother had a heart attack, one’s father had a minor stroke, and one’s mother was recovering from brain cancer surgery. And I really don’t have THAT many friends. It was just a really bad day, and it was just beginning.
Then my 10-year niece (who is away at sleep-away camp with my daughter) was taken to the hospital because her heart was racing (120 to 130.) My husband decided to drive the three-hours to the hospital with his sister, so she wouldn’t have to make the drive alone. And yesterday was my niece’s tenth birthday. I was wiped out with worry and concern.
Then the power went out in NYC, where my 15-year old son Matthew is visiting uncles. And he couldn’t be reached via land line or cell line. It might have been my already distraught state, but I kept seeing images of him trapped in a subway train (Might he be alone? Traveling from one uncle’s to another?) In all that heat and humidity and …..
At 6pm EST his cell phone suddenly works, and Matthew calls to tell me he’s fine, he’s with his uncle, they had been in a high rise in midtown NYC, but they are down now and they have water bottles. Good. I’m relieved. Their plan? To walk back to the apartment in Brooklyn.
Next, the doctors release my niece (her heart rate’s down to about 100.) And so, her mom and uncle (my husband) return her to friends waiting for her at camp. A temporary sigh of relief. She’s not in immediate danger, and her heart looks fine. But what was this about?
Three, four, five hours later. I’m worried again. I can’t reach my son. I wonder if he is sleeping on a park bench. Again I leave messages on cell phones and land lines. My husband leaves a message “Call ANYTIME.”
This morning Matthew calls. They are fine. They got back to the apartment in Brooklyn last night. Why didn’t he call? “Because it was late in California.”
“But I was worried,” I reply.
“But I had already told you I was fine.”
“Yes, and I was greatly relieved to hear that you were fine. But then, hours later, I was worried again. We are parents. We worry. We can’t help it.”
How do you explain to a 15-year old that the usual rules of telephone etiquette (“don’t call after 9pm”) don’t apply when:
1) you are stuck in history’s biggest blackout
2) you are fifteen
3) visiting NYC from San Diego
4) when your parents are at home …. worrying?