All frickin’ day, I sat on my ass reading scripts and writing. I got up only to eat chips, make coffee, mix a drink, cook for my kids and wash an occasional dish or two while I listened — at least four times today — to the disconcerting sound of sirens in the distance.
It was a beautiful day, or so the kids told me. A very strange January. Very little snow, but we’ve been left with a giant frozen pond in the horse pasture that my kids (wearing sneakers) skated upon, while I sat indoors, at my desk, on my ass.
I’d never noticed before how often sirens go off in my surrounding area. I hear them as they whirl down the main four lane road, which is diagonally to the east of us as they hurry from the hospital or the fire department. I hear them if they go down the street behind the pasture, behind our house. Obviously, I can hear them and see them if they drive right by our house.
But now, each time a siren wails past my house, I call my parents who live a short distance down the street from the kids and me. If I don’t get to the phone in time, my youngest (eight-years-old) will.
It’s ridiculous, but we do it anyway:
“Hi Grandma, we were just wondering if you and Grandpa are okay,” my daughter will say as I cook dinner or as I swipe medicine into the ear of my epileptic cat. I wait to hear my mother’s laugh on the other end and to hear her say, “We’re fine. Don’t worry!”
What is ridiculous is that we did this before my father fell (that’s what I choose to call it now; “the day he fell.” Not the day he had a heart attack. I don’t like the sound of the words). But in the past, before my father fell, if an ambulance or fire engine drove past our house, I would occasionally call my folks and make sure everything was alright. It always was. It was an excuse to call, really, and say “Hello. Just thinking of you,” to my mother. I don’t take it for granted. Over 8 years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, yet has been in remission since her “cure.” I don’t know the technical, medical terms. I don’t want to know them. What I know is that she is fine. She is healthy, well and relatively happy. Her treatment and recovery was a miracle then. Had you heard the surgeon, with her worried, concerned face, how she described the tumor she removed, you’d know. My reaction was then as it is now to cry and pray louder and longer than the messenger of bad news. Regardless, the point is, her remission, her life is a miracle and a blessing. I don’t discount it.
But again, what is ridiculous: Since that day he fell, I also found out I am the person they call after they call the ambulance. So I would know anyway. I would know before I heard the sirens. I don’t need to call them. I could, if I wanted, ignore the sirens. It’s just superstition at this point.
I hear one.
I wait to hear which way it turns. No, it’s behind the pasture, on 7th street, not mine. I hear it moving further away. Someone’s tragedy or miracle to be. Today.
I don’t have to call, though I think I will. Just to hear, “Hello? Yes, we’re fine. Everything is fine.”
It’s music now.