WARNING – THIS POST WILL BE UPSETTING TO PEOPLE WHOSE CHILDREN ARE IN 5TH GRADE AT LINTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – PLEASE DON’T READ IT
Typically, I like to craft my blog posts, think them through, edit for typos, etc . . . Not today. Or to botch Aragorn, “The day may come when Amanda edits her entire posts like she normally does, but today is not that day.” There ill be typos, mixed metaphors, and unfinished thoughts. There will not be well-positioned and nicely cropped photos to illustrate my points. I will not deliver to my standard standards. No, this is not my best work, but it is raw. Sorry, dear readers, it’s a rough day, you’re getting a rough draft. Not my best week, not my best work. Apologies for the raw meat, but hell, it’s meaty – this post is packed with emotional protein. Welcome to my rabbit hole, let’s step inside.
On Tuesday a very dear friend, Pam, was killed in a head-on collision when another car swerved across the center line and right into her car. Pam was much loved and admired in our community. Hundreds of hearts broke, then it started to rain.
On Wednesday morning, in the rain, I watched my son, Liam, board a big yellow bus embark on a trip to ecoWeek for school. They were heading to the mountains. Liam gave me a big hug – a hug I did not get when he went to Heart Camp this summer. I thought I was doing a lot better than when he went to heart camp for six days, he was only going to be gone two nights, but it kept raining. And raining. And raining. And then came gravity.
I don’t know who follows the news, but I live in Colorado. You may have heard about our Interstate being washed out in many locations, the city of Boulder barraged by flooding, two major mountain highways collapsed into ruin, or the town of Lyons (lovely little town by the way, we love Lyons) where every citizen has been evacuated because, well there is very little left of Lyons right now. Just up the impassable highway from Lyons is the little berg of Estes Park. Just up the mountainside from Estes Park is the YMCA camp where my son and 69 of his classmates (along with one thousand other souls) were supposed to stay Wednesday and Thursday, with departure this morning in school buses to arrive back in our neighborhood. I was going to pick him up from school early. I was going to hear tales of EcoWeek.
They did not depart this morning. They did not arrive this afternoon. They departed this evening, in buses, to a Red Cross disaster center. Before I write the next sentence let me say, I have ABSOLUTE faith, affection, and appreciation for my son’s teachers and school nurse who are with him. However, my son, age ten, is spending the night in a Red Cross natural disaster center with no family at all and his last aspirin.
Liam, takes medication for his heart – well really it’s more for the artificial parts attached to his heart so they don’t clot. Clotting is bad. Very high altitude is not good for most people and it’s really not good for people with artificial tubing between their hearts and lungs. People, like my son. Now, in Estes Park proper, and even at the YMCA camp in a valley between soaring peaks, the altitude is entirely tolerable. But, remember those highways that are no longer in existence . . . well, without those the only way home is up. Up. Up. Gravity in reverse. The only route to safety is unsafe for my child.
With my son Liam is my friend Pam’s granddaughter. Yep, my friend’s daughter is mourning her death while waiting with the rest of us parents for our children to be brought to safety. I’ve got some stress but not self-pity. I feel for this family even as I worry about my own child. In fact, today I wrote words for Pam’s funeral service on Thursday, it seemed like the right thing to do while her grandchild and my child are stranded and waiting.
This afternoon, our school district sent a caravan of professionals in two school buses and an SUV to get our kids. I saw the buses because I had to bring oxygen to the school for the rescue/evacuation plan calls for a drive over Trail Ridge Road. I left the oxygen tank and my husband on the curb. My husband, Jim, works at my son’s school and has operated oxygen tanks before after our son’s many open-heart surgeries. Liam is not allowed to go over 10,000 feet without oxygen, in fact getting his doctor to prescribe it took less than five minutes – for normal circumstances getting a pediatric cardiologist on the phone much less off the phone and to a fax machine is not quite so fast. I know a lot of pediatric cardiologists. . .
For Liam (because he has half-a-heart) taking on Trail Ridge Road is a bit like a healthy person visiting Mt. Everest – fascinating description about how otherwise healthy people tend to die on Mt. Everest in this interview – hint, it’s not falling. I wish I hadn’t heard it before my son’s only escape route was a place we were told never to take him. Read it or listen to it if you would like to channel my panic or judge me for my third glass of wine.
However, my panic is most pertinent only if they get stuck on Trail Ridge . . . in September . . . with a winter snow storm following a flood. Have you ever read about or seen the snowing-in in The Shining? Yeah, that would never happen in the middle of September on a pass that sometimes is eight feet under snow by October, right? Let’s all think positive; this week has to get better. It just has to. Oh, and my mom was also stranded on the highway today, but she’s home safe now. But this is something that had to happen while I was sending my husband into the unknown (they had to go through Wyoming to get back to Colorado – it’s just that freaking crazy here right now).
As long as Liam has the oxygen Jim is bringing, and the evacuation team can go up and over and down again with gentle gravity and measured haste, it will be OK . . . of course this is in the middle of a “hundred year” flood. . . did I mention they expect the snow to start by noon? Sigh. Cheers. Gulp.
Tomorrow night, if all goes well, my son will be home, and I will leave him here at my house to attend Pam’s viewing. Tomorrow morning, I was supposed to host the Rocky Mountain Congenital Heart Walk which I have been planning since January, But the walk was cancelled because the park where it was to be is, for now, a lake. Funny how between the sudden death of a dear friend and my child and his entire class spending the night in with Red Cross volunteers like the flood refugees they are, canceling a major event became the very last worry on my list. I guess this just means I have my priorities in order, right?
I’ve been updating on Facebook most of the day because, well, we are loved. We are VERY, VERY loved, and for that I am very, very grateful. I’m going to post a brief exchange between me and my dear friend Caroline (shout out to Charleston!) to illustrate my state of mind.
Amanda Rose Adams I disassociate really well under emotional stress – and rely on poor food choices. Both coping mechanisms get me through a crisis but they’re like emotional credit cards – the bill shows up after the purchasing is long done. This will catch up with me around thanksgiving.
So, I may need a little extra love in November when it all sinks in completely. This has been the worst.blog.post.ever. I promise to do better next time, but let’s just get to tomorrow tonight. Sigh. Cheers. Gulp.