And so some time has passed. For those of you that dwell in the same town as I, you probably have all heard the story. Rumors fly around this town like rapid anal air attacks. I usually do my darnedest to cover my face and get the fuck out before it all hits me at once.
You see friends, recently (and I use recently rather loosely), a coworker of mine had passed away while we were working. I won’t go into details, for I am constantly going through the details in my head every morning when I wake up and every night before bed. Besides this story isn’t about the incident itself, instead it is about the aftermath.
I never used to work Wednesday. It wasn’t until the Ice Queen decided to reconvene her reign at our pub and she took all the shifts she desired. The bitch took my Monday shift so I was condemned to Wednesday, for all my eternity at the pub I shall now be serving shitty lunch specials, forced smiles and tall glasses of suckmydick. But whatever, I’m easy, I’ll suck it up and reconfigured my life for the Ice Queen. My lady, I bid you to eastmyass.
Anyways, so I’ve been finally getting the groove of this Hump Day shift, and I am finally accepting the change that came with it. I got to work with another chef who I hardly ever see and I got to work with one of my girlfriends. All good, same shit, different day essentially, whatever!
Unfortunately, one Wednesday, shortly after our lunch rush, and me serving a table of 30 geriatrics from the local retirement home, I heard someone screaming. My instincts took over and I immediately ran to the front patio, to see if the bag lady Shannon was arguing with the pigeons again, but alas I was wrong. (My instincts suck). A couple of customers beckoned me over, and as I was headed towards them I saw it. I saw my coworker, I saw my friend, I saw death for the first time face to face.
Like I said this story isn’t about someone going to work to flip burgers and leaving in a bag. It was a freak accident, no doubt. No, this story is about…family.
We closed up early that day. Two hours later I got the call, that my friend did not make it. I was still in my work clothes, my feet covered in blood, my make up smudged all over my face, I was exhausted. I called my mama, I cried. I called Mr. Wonderful, I cried. I called more coworkers to let them know, we cried. I got off the phone and sat on my front porch, still unclean and cried. I cried, I cried, I cried and cried.
WHAT. THE. FUCK. How does this happen? How does someone go to work to flip fucking burgers and they die? His wife. His poor wife. She has no idea, she expected to see him that day, it’s not like he is a War Vet or Firefighter where you know they may never come home. He’s a chef. To me that’s not okay.
I was there. I was fucking there. Deep in it. Why was I fucking there? Oh I forgot, it’s because the fucking ICE QUEEN condemned me to Wednesdays. I never work Wednesdays. I never work Wednesdays, why did I have to work this Wednesday? If I had my old shift back, I wouldn’t have had to have been there. I wouldn’t have had to see what I saw, to hear what I heard, I wouldn’t have had to see my friend’s life drift away from his eyes. I want my Mondays back. I want my friend back.
The next couple days the pub closed. But all of us coworkers/friends/family we all came together to talk. Counselors were at our feet, police officers at our beckon and mother fucking ego-maniacal reporters where lingering in our shadows until the perfect moment.
I was constantly asked by everyone how I was doing. I hated this question. Yes, I was a wreck, yes I was sad, but I was more sad because I could only imagine how is wife feels. To lose the love of your life, let alone shortly after giving birth to your second baby. That’s not fair. I feel like shit and all you guys are concerned about me, what about her? What about his babies?
Looking back now, it was out of love. My coworkers genuinely cared for me, they were worried about my well-being along with the few others that witnessed this tragedy. But at the time, I couldn’t handle it. I thought shitty question after a shitty circumstance.
Days passed, sleep was inexistent, narcotics came back into fruition, anxiety exhilarated, and all I could think about was my shoes. I had an interesting moment. I had worn my shoes home that day, I never do that. Maybe in some sense I thought the rain would wash away the life that drifted on them, or maybe it was all I had of him. I remember sitting in my bedroom, a few hours before the funeral, staring at my shoes. All the moments of that Wednesday came rushing back, all my senses in overload, stroking out. Now, I could throw these shoes out, bury them, burn them, do whatever to get them out of my way, or I could keep them. Maybe I would put them in my closet or a box, and whenever I wanted to feel again, I could find the shoes.
Now I know this sounds like a rather perturbed thought, but I am a girl who can’t feel. I am so hooked up on pharmaceutical cocktails that to really make me feel, to really make me care, to really make me feel like a person, well, perhaps these shoes would help.
Mylittleshroomy (not her actual name, just a term of endearment for one of my dearest friends) and I headed to the pub to meet up with the rest of our coworkers. There we talked, we checked up on one another, we dispersed in to few cars and headed to say farewell to our friend. My car was one of the rides we took, but I didn’t drive. I couldn’t.
We arrived at the funeral. I was doing okay. I was supposed to be doing okay. I had already cried prior that morning, I am good. So good. I am going to be okay.
We all sat together, hand in hand. And waited patiently for the service to begin. I couldn’t help but think a week ago he was fine, he was alive, he was happy and smiling and asking me how my day was. A week ago, I finally was getting used to my new work schedule. A week ago he had told me they had finally picked out a name for his baby girl. A week ago, the saddest thing I still hadn’t gotten over was Glen (Walking Dead spoiler alert). A week ago everything was okay. I was okay. He was okay. He was alive and well and I am not okay anymore. He isn’t alive. He is not okay. I am not okay. I am not okay. I AM NOT OKAY.
I couldn’t breathe, I stood up and ran out of the room. My heart bursting out of my chest, my breathe struggling to make way and my tears flooded my eyes so much so I couldn’t see clearly. Mylittleshroomy and Mama Bear (Head Server) followed me out. They took me outside. They hugged me. They let me cry. They let me feel. They held my hand. They gave me my time. My heart hurt so much, why did this have to happen? This wasn’t supposed to happen? We did so much to help him survive, how did he not make it? What did we do wrong? Was I not quick enough? Did the ambulance take too long? Where did we go wrong? Why couldn’t we save him? I could’ve have saved him!
I guess they call this survivors guilt. In all honesty, I look at my life and think I really have nothing going for me, but he, he had so much. He was young, he was starting a family, he was a devoted husband and father, the only thing I’ve been devoted to was popping pills and getting my rock off. In a heart beat, I would’ve have taken his place. Mama Bear consoled me in a way I never expected. She told me it was okay to feel. It’s okay to be sad, but it wasn’t okay to feel undervalued and unloved. She told me it wasn’t okay that I was sad because I wished it was me instead of him. She told me that we all care and love each other, and we all have these thoughts inside our heads, but together we can help one another. We see each other every day, we celebrate all our birthdays together, we fight with each other, we fuck with each other, we help each other, and in the end we are all family here. We lost a family member. Why lose two?
At some point we three walked backed in, hand in hand. The service began.
I was anxious. I haven’t walked into the kitchen since the incident. I didn’t know if I could do it. I thought I could not walk in and I could leave, and find a way to move on without moving through the process of grief, or I could walk in and see what happens. I took a breath, and I walked in the kitchen. The evidence was gone, but the story was still there, in the walls, in the floors, in me. But I walked through the kitchen. It wasn’t until that moment I realized what I needed to do.
This was a little more than a month ago now. I still have bouts of not being able to sleep. I’ve slipped into old bad habits. My medication has doubled. And I have good days and bad days. Someone once told me every day gets better. I’m still waiting for that day, but I am hopeful.
In the end.
I threw out my shoes.