Recently, I had a really annoying day. It began at three a.m. with both kids waking up at exactly the same time. Big had dreamt a few hours earlier that a tiger was stalking her in the house. She ran into our bedroom with her gigantic white stuffed cat. When I say gigantic, I mean twenty five inches of white stuffed catness. She crawled into bed and, even though my husband was away for the week, insisted on being in the middle. This meant that I was teetering on the edge of the bed with a bony knee rammed into the small of my back so her stuffed animal could have enough room to sleep. I had planned on remedying this ridiculousness after she went to sleep by throwing the massive thing on the floor and scooting her over a little. Then, as if on cue, Little began hollering. Big sat up wide awake. I walked down the hall to get Little back to sleep, and Big let out a shriek about the tiger coming to get her. I leaned back into the room, pleading with her to be quiet for a second so I could get Little back down. She quieted, and I lay down with Little. As soon as three seconds of silence had passed, Big let out another screech. As I went in to quiet her yet again, Little started in and so it went, back and forth, for about three solid minutes. I started thinking about my husband's pleas for more kids and became irate at him and them. I snapped and yelled and angrily demanded that everyone get in my bed at once or suffer the consequences. Not a learning moment, I know, but it got them to shut up. Once we all settled in, I was now wedged between two small bodies-one knee now jutted into my kidney on one side and the other side was randomly elbowed in the head and face until sleep finally came. I stayed awake, of course, anticipating the blows to my face, and because I was afraid of Little rolling off the bed or Big pitching a fit upon realizing her cat hadn't made the cut and was somewhere down on the floor in the dark.
They awoke at 6:30. I dragged myself down the stairs, made my pathetic decaf, cooked a hot breakfast, clothed them, got them to school on time and was just about to make my getaway when Little wouldn't let me. I was firm and left her in a hysterical heap on her teacher's lap to go exercise before I had to go to my dentist appointment. I got in the car and the "check coolant level" light went on, as it has been for last two weeks. I had taken in the "new" car twice to fix this problem and yet the car wasn't satisfied. Foolishly, I ditched plans to exercise and drove pissily to my mechanic for the third time this month. I soon discovered that I was unable to reach his shop via the main road due to police activity that had the entire block surrounding his business caution taped off. Several police officers were walking the scene. I entered via the back alley and parked,hoping selfishly that his shop wasn't the source of all the trouble. I waved to Mike, the mechanic, who was on the phone. Let me just say that I love Mike. He is from the former USSR and is just a lovely person and an excellent mechanic despite our issues with my coolant system. As I waited, one of the other three mechanics standing around explained that a person had died in a car accident right in front of the shop earlier that morning. Evidently there were four cars involved and two fled the scene. I could see the crumpled front of a white mini van where it had made contact with an giant oak tree. I craned my neck to try and get a look at the windshield, looking for a decal from our school. There wasn't one, which was kind of a relief. It struck me how little damage there was to have resulted in a death- doesn't take much to kill someone, I guess.
Looking at the tree that had withstood the tremendous impact and essentially killed someone by just existing, it occurred to me that at the same time that I was tiredly making pancakes and forcing small feet into socks, someone was receiving the worst phone call they will ever get, telling them that their mother/father/daughter/ son/lover/ husband/ wife was dead. The street was eerily quiet, due to the traffic being blocked, and the sky was ridiculously blue with a few perfect fluffy clouds here and there. I stood in the parking lot, gazing up at the tree, the sky,the clouds. It felt like a vast communal moment of silence for some poor departed soul that I knew nothing about. I hoped that their death had been painless and quick and that they didn't leave behind any children.
A little voice inside my head said "still annoyed?". Nope, not really.