Heartache, Hope, and Headache

Lord have mercy.

When life changes, it certainly changes. Back in early November, I matched with someone on Tinder. I know. Tinder. Gag. I’d matched with a few people before, met with one, nothing worked out. I decided to delete the app and start over with it. I wasn’t sure what that was going to accomplish, but I digress.

I swiped right on a few guys and then came across this guy named Andrew. His instagram was in his bio, so I creeped. I really appreciated being able to do that because I got a sense of his personality and humor. He seemed sarcastic and into puns, quite like myself. Then I accidentally double-tapped one of his photos. Fuck.

Now, I could have unliked it, deleted tinder, and crawled under a rock, but that would have been a ridiculous overreaction. I went back into the tinder app and swiped right.

Shortly thereafter, he swiped right for me, creating a match. Ta-da.

I decided to be brave and send the first message. His bio said something about dad jokes, of which I am a master, so I messaged him some dumb comment about the aforementioned. It took a day or so (cue me biting my nails) and then he responded.

Within a very short time, he’d impressed the pants off of me. Well, okay, conversationally, anyway. We had several things in common, he seemed very gentlemanly and genuine – even over a tinder chat. He ended up asking for my number.

We texted a bit every day – good conversation, no small talk. Then a couple days later, I got a not-so-great message.

My mom called me and said that my Nana had taken a turn for the worse and likely had about two-to-three weeks left. She’d just been given her Last Rites since it’s getting to be about that time. I’d wavered on whether or not I wanted to go see her one last time. She’d had Alzheimer’s for years now and looked right through me when I saw her last Christmas. Selfishly, it wasn’t something I wanted to go through again.

Then Friday, 14th of November, mom called in the afternoon to say that Nana’s prognosis had moved from two-to-three weeks to two-to-three days. I wavered again about whether to run down to the home and see her, but the thought seeing her in her current state just about paralyzed me. She wouldn’t recognize me, she’s probably in pain, she’s sleeping anyway, etc. I decided to stay home, but I would talk to my brother about potentially going to see her the next day.

That visit never came, because around 11pm that night, mom’s name showed up on my phone. I knew right away what had happened, and my instincts were confirmed when she said, “this is the call.”

My beloved Nana had died. Those words are bitter in my mouth.

Sweet Nana is finally in Heaven and out of pain.

I needed to go for a drive.

I drove to Nana’s old house. There are new owners now and they were home, looking out the window for whatever reason, so I couldn’t stay. I wanted to sit in the driveway and look at it. I wanted to sit and imagine all the million times we walked or biked down the road to her house for frosted ginger cookies and milk. All the Halloweens we’d trick-or-treated and gotten loads of candy from her at the front door. All the Christmases we’d helped trim her tree with ancient ornaments and strands of tinsel that we got all over the floor. I wanted to imagine sitting on her dusty rose-colored couch and glanced over to her in her rocking chair – seeing her knitting a new scarf or blanket.

I wanted to get out of the car and walk around back to the garden. I wanted to picture her kneeling, in her skirt, on one of those foam knee-protectors and digging holes for new bulbs or annuals or perennials. I wanted to help pull weeds and put soil in behind the flowers she’d relocate. I wanted to say, “look, Nana!” and hear, “Isn’t that nice” in her way, where it isn’t a question, actually.

I thought about all the times we’d gone in her light blue Oldsmobile, and later her pearlescent Geo Metro, to the library. The only reason I had a library card was because of her. I thought about the walks up to Ponca, the jumping in puddles, the blowing bubbles, the reading; the painstaking time she would spend putting my hair up in curlers and wrapping a silk scarf around so I can walk home, the way she answered the phone (“erm, hello”) in her way, where it really isn’t a question, again, actually.

Nana was one of those people who I pictured having in my life until I was old and grey. She’d just always be there somehow. And now she’s gone.

When my parents first hired her, I was about six months old. She came looking slightly like a 1940s war nurse and told them that she would be addressed as Mrs Meyer. It wasn’t long before she was Nana; my Nana.

I drove back to my neighborhood that night and sat in my car for ages listening to music. I had been texting Andrew sporadically due to it being the middle of the night, the news, and the drive. I suddenly felt very strongly that I should just be honest with him about what had happened. We’d been talking such a short time and we didn’t even know each other, but I needed to see right then and there how this was going to go.

Either he would say no, we barely know each other, I don’t need this right now, I’m out with friends (he was out at the bar with friends, I knew); or he wouldn’t say any of those things. Somehow I knew he wouldn’t react like the former. And he didn’t. he said he was so sorry and he wished there was something he could do; if he wasn’t drinking, he’d drive out to see me.

We talked about sad music and how happy music doesn’t actually help when you’re sad because you can’t relate to it in the moment. He sent me a youtube link and said it always helped him. I thought, great, what is this shit going to be. I clicked on the link and as soon as the title popped up, my heart skipped a beat: Morning in May by Ludo.

No one knows Ludo. And anyone who might have heard Ludo certainly hasn’t heard the Broken Bride album. But here this stranger was, sending me the song from Broken Bride that never fails to bring me to tears.

This discovery turned into a conversation lasting until 3am, even though he had to work early. He made me smile and even laugh that night, one of the worst nights in my life. I couldn’t help but think that God had all of this planned from the start. Hell, I’m pretty sure Nana had a hand in this. If I hadn’t been texting him that night, I’d have been alone in my thoughts and feelings. Everyone else was asleep or out of town. Nana took care of that. She was a caregiver til the end.

A couple days later, Andrew and I had our first date planned. I hadn’t had those butterflies in a long time. I didn’t want to spend too much time getting ready or coming up with any speeches or whatever. I was gonna be me and that was it. Furthermore, I wanted to be myself, not ‘better.’ I finally had hope again.

The date went amazingly. I knew I was in trouble from the get-go. And the best part was that he felt the same way. He asked to see me a few days later and did I say I was in trouble? Because I was in big, fucking trouble. Wow.

I’m being quite vague, I know. I just- well, this is very precious to me.

It hasn’t yet been two months, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt happier, more comfortable, and more like myself.

And then since it can’t be all sunshine and roses, the continued car accident stress..

I’ve been seeing a chiropractor three times a week. My body was working 42% harder than it should have been. (Not sure if I ever talked about the scans). My nerves had practically shut down. It’s getting a bit better; it’s changing anyway. I had an MRI on my right foot, come to find out that I have two fractured toes. That explains a lot. I have patella baja (shortened patella) in both knees thanks to the trauma. My wrists (left much more so than right) are still weak. Some bones in my chest pop if I stretch. Oh yeah, and I’ll need to start physical therapy now that the holidays are over.

The court date for the driver-at-fault drunk to enter his plea is in a week. I wonder how the past four-almost-five months have been for him. I see, via public record, that he’s just bought a house. Can’t be going too badly then.

Meanwhile, I’m just broken. Sure, it didn’t kill me. It could have, but it didn’t. It still could, but I won’t let it. What it did was make me weaker. Angrier. Cynical. It made me scared. It made me paranoid. It has taken so much from me and continues to take more.

Meanwhile, I’m the one who’s been in prison.

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