It may be my imagination, but it seems I am prone to accidents, inclined to make poor choices and not at my sharpest during periods of healing from loss. Early on in my time of grieving, I recognized an uncharacteristic inclination to lose track of things and be forgetful. Losing keys and missing appointments was something someone else always did until recently, not I. I had always written lists but suddenly, after losing my daughter, I started losing my lists. Then I started leaving myself phone messages to remind myself of important dates and things to remember to do. Most recently, friends who visit my house chide me for leaving notes to myself, and signs, on the floor. It really bugs me to have things litter my floors so I get things taken care of. I have stock signs: DO LITTER, DO LAUNDRY, GET GAS and GET CASH as well as the novel SUKI TO LIZ 9AM or PAULA BIRTHDAY. I slipped on one of these recently so I think twice now before putting more than one sign on the floor at a time.
Except for childbirth, I can’t remember being in a hospital for my own care until this past year. It was always my son with a broken limb or Marika with leukemia being examined and treated as I stood by on the far side of center stage. In the last year though, in three separate occasions, I broke my wrist, my nose and two toes, sending my sister, a family physician in Massachusetts, into a scurry to test me for neurological impairment. Did I mention my virgin bout with vertigo this spring, most likely due to lyme disease?
And last week, I was pulled over about a mile down the road from my house, coming up Route 79, by a police car that blinked bright red lights and trailed me until I pulled over in disbelief. It was Officer Barr, the same Officer Barr who had stopped me in the exact same spot about eight years ago, shortly after my divorce. And here he was, again telling me I was speeding, but this time, he also noticed that my inspection was three months overdue.
I sat frozen in the car as he did whatever police officers issuing tickets do while their victims wait and suffer and hope no one racing by will recognize them. He finally walks back to my window. He looks no different from when I saw him eight years ago and I wonder if he is also experiencing a déjà vu.
“It behooves you to go to court,” he tells me as he hands me two tickets on four pieces of unruly curled paper.
All I can think is: I need a break. Maybe I should just not leave the house for a year or two. My poor old Prius can’t even go that fast up this hill. Where was my head? And how did this happen? What do I say in court? What do I wear in court? Do I “pull the cancer card” as Marika used to say? The “my daughter just died of cancer” card? Or do I just let come what will and stoically swallow the consequences?
I’m a person who prides herself on being in control and doing things right. But stress, somewhat like cancer, can change your life and take you to places you’ve never been before. So I’m going to Traffic Court this week and have no idea yet what will come out of my mouth. Got any advice?