Life interrupted. Part 1.

Sometimes you’re going along in life feeling like everything is falling into place quite nicely. Things are working out the way you had hoped and life is good. And then something comes along that changes everything. Life is interrupted.

I was two weeks into a new job; excited about it, but overwhelmed by all I had to learn and wondering if maybe I had gotten in over my head. Still, I was anxious to dive in and learn all the new things. The Christmas season was upon us and life was as busy as ever as our family was adjusting to me not being home to tend to their every need. Our schedule was packed with Christmas activities and concerts, computer training (for me), and parties before Christmas break.

Andy told me he was having some weird episodes of feeling like he was close to passing out. They would come and go and seemed to go away when he laid down. I don’t usually like to jump to any serious conclusions, always assuming it’s nothing. I was quick to tell him it was probably stress and he should eat better and exercise, because I like to think I’m an expert in these kinds of things. So over the next week, we went for a run and I pushed him to get his heart pumping and get some good exercise; while at one point he said he was seeing stars. I did tell him to slow down, since I’m not a total monster.

A couple of days later the near-fainting episodes came back and he made an appointment to see a primary care doctor, he doesn’t even really have a specific doctor because his health has been so good. The doctor didn’t see anything too concerning, but his heartbeat seemed irregular and because of his symptoms, she felt it best for him to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours just to see what was going on. She also recommended giving up caffeine for the time being. He picked up the heart monitor on a Thursday, wore it, then turned it back in on a Friday afternoon, all the while feeling back to normal without anymore episodes. The worst feeling for him at that time was the headaches from no coffee. …

I just clean the bathrooms

I go to this place just to clean the bathrooms. The woman who normally does this job is in the hospital and my friend, who invited me, says there is a need. With cleaning supplies in hand, I step over the dirty, sleeping man to enter the building. I don’t want to admit my fear, but it’s right up front. It stays there until the moment I step into the warm room, which smells of bacon and feels like love. There are only women there at this time sharing a meal, many of them smiling. The line is blurry between who is giving and who is receiving.

Introductions are made as I watch each woman. I see the brokenness intertwined with the beauty. It’s a small little place on a dirty highway where the deeds done right outside its doors are ugly. But inside, music plays, food is served, and women are given the love, respect, and dignity that’s been lost out on those streets.

I make my way to the back where the two bathrooms are. They’re both occupied, leaving me standing uncomfortably looking out the locked back door. A man sits with a woman, half-dressed, sitting on his lap. She looks tired and worn, marks on her body, as she struggles to hold up her head. Maybe she’s drunk, or high, or sick. Or maybe she’s so beaten down she doesn’t know what to do. Maybe it’s all of these things. It’s no matter to the man who pulls her closer, kissing her pale face and neck. I look away, nervous to make eye contact. …

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