13 years ago when my brother was killed in a car accident, I was overseas and living in a community of people with limited access to communication tools like telephones and computers. One day, someone that I didn’t know very well approached me and said that I was needed in the phone room. It was an emergency. They wouldn’t or couldn’t tell me what was wrong and I sobbed all the way there.
Just in case you are ever put in to position to take someone somewhere to find out something, don’t do it. Call in sick. Don’t accept that responsibility, it must be awful having a piece of information while someone wails and begs you to put them out of misery and suspense and just tell them. I sobbed loudly the entire time that they dialed and redialed my home phone number in the United States. I sobbed when they couldn’t get a line out of the country to make this important phone call. I sobbed when no one would tell me anything no matter how many times I asked what on earth was going on. Every moment that passed was torturous and burned my heart and ate away at my ability to breathe.
It was the most helpless, awful feeling I had ever felt at that point. When we finally got a hold of my family, I learned the news that my brother was gone.
Three weeks ago I had my phone turned off and all of my email and Facebook tabs closed as I composed the perfect article for a website that I contribute to. It had my utmost attention, the most focus I’ve given anything in a long time. When I was done, I hit send, smiled with a sigh of relief and then I checked my Facebook page.
There were several messages demanding that I call my husband immediately or call the any number of a dozen people leaving these messages. Friends and neighbors writing messages that said, “Call me! Call me!” I panicked and I turned on my phone – there were messages and text messages from my husband, from neighbors, from people I haven’t spoken to in years, insisting that I call immediately. I called my husband first and he said that friend was coming to get me, to stay where I was.
“Where are you? What’s wrong?!” I asked in response.
He said he had to go and to just hang on, someone was on their way. I stepped outside into the hot air and I gasped for breath as people asked if I was okay, as a police car arrived, as a friend arrived, as a neighbor arrived. I just sobbed and cried and gasped, “What is going on?! What is wrong!?” as the parking lot spun and blurred.
The police officer drove me to Riley Hospital, lights on. All the while I was screaming and sobbing, begging him to tell me something, anything, “What’s wrong?! Somebody tell me please! Tell me what’s wrong!” The freeways were closed for the first day of the big project. There wasn’t much he could share. “Tell me!” I begged. Really, I didn’t want him to tell me what was wrong, I didn’t want him to tell me what was going on. I wanted him to tell me that everything was fine, that it would all be all right. Instead, no one had much to tell.
I felt hopeless and helpless. I felt the deep, hard feeling that nothing would ever be right again. I felt that despite having no information, something was so incredibly wrong.
And it was.