Last night my phone rang at 10:15. Now even before I had a baby this was an unacceptable time to call me. I have to be up insanely early because school starts before 8 and I live a good 45 minutes away. Plus I always need time to get myself ready for the day. 10:15 is usually my bedtime or just past it. Everyone who knows me, knows this. This rule is respected by everyone except my brother-in-law who ocassionally forgets how annoying ringing phones can be to small children trying to sleep and dials us anyway.
The call was from my sister. She has two small kids and understands my rule. When I saw it was her, I knew it was important. It turns out my second cousin was killed in a car accident yesterday. Actually it was more of a semi vs. kind of small piece of farming equipment. You can guess which vehicle my cousin was driving. He was driving on the shoulder with his very slow moving vehicle when a semi veered off the four lane highway and sent him flying. He died instantly.
My second cousin and I weren’t incredibly close, so this is not a “I want sympathy” kind of post. He was only a few years younger than my mother and his kids are 10-15 years younger than me, so we don’t have too much in common. I knew him though. We saw each other at family gatherings. He lived in the same town he was born in (and most of my family lives/was born in) . He spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. She’s in her late 80′s and while she’s pretty with it mentally, her physical health hasn’t been great the last few years, so he’s been a real help to her. It’s been a great comfort to me knowing he is five minutes away and willing to help her with anything, even if it’s the fourth call that day. Since he was a farmer, he had a fairly flexible schedule.
My grandmother is taking his death really hard. I called her today during my prep period and she cried almost the entire time. She could barely compose herself. I’ve never heard her like this before and it made me sad. I may not have been close to my cousin, but I love her very much and her pain made me shed more than a few tears. Then I started thinking of my aunt and uncle who have just lost their only son. I cried for them. The thought of losing my son is so horrifying that I cried again. I thought of his sister, his wife and his children and imagined what I would feel like if I was suddenly to have one of these people ripped from my life and I cried again. It might seem overly dramatic, but I couldn’t stop myself. I cried for all the people in my life I love who are now feeling lost and empty without my cousin.
I spent the afternoon trying to coordinate my family affairs. My grandmother is so upset no one thinks it’s good for her to be left on her own, so my mother is flying in from DC. Since everyone in the family is either inconsolable or too old to make the trip to the nearest airport, I’m picking her up and driving her the two hours to my grandma’s house. Her visiting the state twice in one decade is a major shock to me. I’m not sure how we will pass the long drive, but I’m hoping it will go a bit better than our visit last month.
I have to miss a day of work as I can’t make a four hour round trip, visit with my family and get back home in time to make it to work. I don’t mind taking the day off, but having to drive so much with a small baby is not something I look forward to. Rearranging my lesson plans, making up sub plans and being gone for a day is something else I dread doing. I almost never take time off work because it’s so hard to catch back up.
I don’t know how much comfort my mother will be as her last visit left her and my grandmother bickering at each other for nearly 72 hours, but I’m hoping this tragedy will bring them closer. I’m not sure what I hope for my mom and me. All I know is my grandmother needs someone right now. I wish I could be there for her but I live too far away, have too few sick days and a baby. It’s times like this when she will feel the loss of my cousin the most. I wish there was something I could do for her, but I feel pretty helpless. All things considered if a two hour car ride alone with my mom will help my grandmother, I’m willing to do it. I hope she likes my music.