A blog from a foodie about living with allergy/immunology issues, Hashimoto's, lymphedema, kidney failure and other issues. I must eat all organic, gluten, nut, soy, egg and corn free. What's left you ask? Well, that was my thought too when things kept getting worse. I make it work and you can too.
I loved to cook since I was very young. I learned from the best, my two grandmothers and my mom!
Kaitlyn was angry as she
drove down the Long Island Expressway. She was late and it was her
stepmother's fault, again. The radio blasted Beyoncé’s Single Ladies as
she stared ahead; replaying the argument in her mind.
Her foot pressed down a
bit harder on the gas pedal, keeping with the fast beat. She glanced at
the speedometer. It read 75 mph.
She pressed down slightly harder, she couldn't
miss the train. Her friends would kill her; you don't turn twenty-one
every day and today was Jennifer's birthday bash. They had a train to
catch to the city.
Everyone on the road was
"flying" as her“Stepmonster” loved to say. Stepmonster
was Kaitlyn's secret name for the woman her father had married seven years
"flying" with her windows down, a warm breeze caressing her face, her
hair gently blowing in the wind. It calmed her and she was ready for a fun night with her friends,
refusing to let Stepmonster and their earlier fight ruin the fun.
She almost overshot her
exit in her rush, just making it onto the exit ramp with a quick jolt to the
right. She barreled down, unable to slow, merging onto the service road whileshe changed the station on the radio. Luckily, traffic was light and the
merge was effortless.
Kaitlyn heard it before
she saw it. The high-pitched screeching of tires. A loud, long horn
blast. BANG. BOOM. The sounds of the
crashing of metal in the center of the road just ahead.
The car in front of her
swerved right before reaching the intersection avoiding becoming part of the
accident. It came to a stop on a
perfectly manicured lawn, just missing a large mimosa tree. Kaitlyn jammed her brakes, spun twice, finally
stopping, her vehicle sideways, across two lanes. Trembling, she managed to
pull her SUV behind the car under the mimosa tree and put it in park.
A crowd had formed near
the intersection. Drivers were out of their vehicles on all four corners
and people ran from the homes that lined the service road. Kaitlyn overhead one
woman exclaim, "Not another one, second one this week,"
to no one in particular as she walked briskly past her SUV.
Still trembling, she
opened her car door, got out and followed the crowd. A burly, bare-chested man
was on his cell phone yelling to a 911 operator. Standing on tiptoe, Kaitlyn
peeked over the crowd. One car was upside down, its roof crushed, almost one with
the pavement. A smaller car, its front end unrecognizable, was climbing a light
post. They had both been rushing. The larger car tried to beat the yellow
light with a quick left onto the service road. The smaller car rushed
straight through, towards the train station.
A woman's voice screamed
desperately, "Does anyone know CPR, please, please, help, he’s not
breathing!" Kaitlyn pushed through
the crowd, her body moving on its own. "I can help," she said
anxiously, looking down at a young man, half his body still in the car with his crushed chest, his arms
and head on the hot pavement where bystanders had dragged him. They
couldn't pull him completely out of the inverted car, halfway was the best they
could do. Kaitlyn offered to help without thinking. Her mouth was quicker than her brain and she hoped she wouldn't regret her actions.
Kaitlyn knelt down, her
whole body shaking. She breathed in hot tar and burnt rubber. Slowly, she
began the procedure, praying she remembered correctly what she learned the week
before. “My God, am I doing this the right way?
Am I going to kill this guy? Dear Lord, please help me.”
She kept going, her pace
increasing, counting in her head, pumping his chest, then blowing into his
mouth, over and over. “Breathe, dammit, breathe. Please, God, don’t let him die on me,
please.” She pushed harder and harder on
his chest. The woman who had called for
help begged her, “Don’t stop, keep going, try harder.”
CPR was exhausting, but
Kaitlyn wasn’t giving up. She continued
chest compressions. She moved
frantically back to his mouth. “Please
breathe,” she was desperate. She wasn’t sure; she thought she saw his chest
rise slightly. She kept going,
completely spent, only stopping when a large hand grasped her shoulder. A
police officer arrived and Kaitlyn moved aside. “Thank God, thank God you are
here,” she said breathlessly to the officer.
She was relieved to have him take over.
The officer placed
oxygen on the young man as Kaitlyn watched, terrified, collapsed on the
curb. Another officer asked the crowd to
step back as he unrolled a large spool of yellow tape.
Kaitlyn crawled away
drained. A woman in the crowd helped her
up. The woman who had screamed for help asked, “Are you
ok?” Kaitlyn didn’t answer; she looked
around, taking in the entire scene. The red lights whirling atop the police
cruiser made her cringe. She glanced at the officer, gently talking to
the young man lying motionless, still half inside the car, the oxygen mask
covering his mouth and nose. She heard
the wail of the ambulances and fire trucks getting closer. It sent chills down her spine. It was
all too much. Too many memories flooded back. Her whole body shook,
thinking of that horrific night years ago. No child should go through what she
Kaitlyn remembered every
detail. She was excited, driving with her Mom to meet her Dad at the
restaurant in celebration of her eighth birthday. When they arrived, Dad
was already there, dressed in his fancy suit, looking so handsome, sitting at
their favorite corner table.
After dinner and
birthday sundaes, Kaitlyn begged to ride home with her Dad as they walked
through the parking lot. He always let her sit up front, next to him, and she
felt very grown up. "Please Mommy, let me ride with Daddy."
Her Mom relented, handing her the backpack Kaitlyn had
insisted they retrieve from her car.
Carrie, Kaitlyn's mom,
pulled out of the lot ahead of them, making a right toward town. She was
stopping at the local pharmacy for a prescription and would meet them at home.
Kaitlyn and Joe, her
Dad, took their time chatting. “Daddy, I
went to the museum today, we saw paintings and statues and lots of art
stuff. I drew my own picture of the
potato farmers that lived in the 1800’s. Do you want to see it, Daddy?” Joe
admired the picture Kaitlyn showed him, telling her she did a great job and he
was so proud of her. They finally buckled
up, after Kaitlyn stuffed everything back into her backpack. "Zip it
up," Joe reminded her exasperated. Joe backed out slowly. He was annoyed waiting for the red light before exiting the lot.
As they drove along Main
Street that warm summer night, a light drizzle hit the windshield, not enough
for Joe to turn on the wipers. Through the tiny drops, they could see
gleaming red lights twirling ahead. There were many circling lights, from
several police cars as they reached the corner. One patrol car was parked
across the road, and the officer began stopping traffic. They could hear sirens
in the distance, getting closer and closer, an ambulance and fire truck making
their way to the scene.
Joe came to an abrupt
stop, obeying the hand signal of the man in blue in the middle of the street.
Joe was face to face with the officer. He watched him expertly giving direction to both the officers and the public. Another patrolman strung bright yellow
tape nearly across the hood of their car, continuing around, making a square
around the intersection.
The officer finally
stood perfectly still; satisfied that traffic was under control. Watching him,
Kaitlyn thought he looked like one of the statues she'd seen on her field trip
that afternoon, his feet firmly planted, one arm locked forward, his palm up
straight facing them.
When Joe and Kaitlyn
glanced ahead at the dismal scene, they both recognized the car in the middle
of the four corners immediately. The
car lay on its side, the driver's side. In that moment,
Joe and Kaitlyn realized that Carrie was gone forever.
watch any more as the fire department used the Jaws of Life to free
the young man from his overturned vehicle. She walked back to her SUV solemnly.It was a horrible day. She hated fighting with the
Stepmonster. If only her mother were alive, she wouldn't have to deal
with this. Because of Stepmonster, she was stuck, witnessing this horror,
trying to save someone’s life, unsure of what she was doing.
The sound of her cell
phone startled her as she sat in her vehicle crying. She reached into her
purse. "Hello." Jennifer
screamed into the phone, "Where the hell are you, girl? I've been calling
you, why aren't you answering? The train is leaving in two minutes."
Kaitlyn was still stunned. "I'm stuck," she said in a monotone voice. "There's a bad accident, the whole service road is shut down,
there's no way off. I will meet you guys later; I'll catch the next
train." She hung up, silently cursing the Stepmonster.
contemplating. What did her Stepmonster know about raising kids? Damn,
the woman left her own kid. She had to be the worst mother on the planet,
and all she did was try to mommy her, push her to do everything her way.
They had screamed at one
another for over an hour, back and forth at least six times. The worst fights
were always when her Dad was at work. Her Stepmother, Karen, was fuming.
She yelled at her, "Kaitlyn, you are unappreciative, you have no
direction, no responsibility, one day you will regret it." Kaitlyn
was filled with rage, "What do you know, you can't force me to stay in
college, I don't want to, I'm bored to tears, I don't want a stuffy office job,
Karen was infuriated. “Who
quits college in their third year? Your father paid a fortune
in tuition and you are acting like a spoiled brat, complaining about being
Kaitlyn could take no
more. She threw her backpack across the living room in Karen's direction
and stormed off shouting, "Great, now I'm late, I hope you are happy, I'm
going to miss the train. That must thrill you." She refrained
from adding, "You bitch." She'd said it once before and had to
face the wrath of her father.
Karen was screaming,
"Clean up that mess," as Kaitlyn slammed the front door and jumped
into her SUV, speeding out of the driveway.
As Karen looked around
at the books, papers, pens and food wrappers scattered all over the living room
after Kaitlyn flung the unzipped backpack, she shook in frustration. She had
cleaned the house spotless. She wanted to make a good impression on her son.
She hadn't seen him in twelve years. He was flying in this afternoon. She
didn't need this nonsense now.
Her cell rang from her
pocket as she bent to gather the scattered books and clean the mess Kaitlyn
left her. "Hello," she answered. A deep voice greeted her on the
other end, a voice that had surprised her last week when she first heard it and
again today. "Mom, it's Bobby.”
Saying mom felt strange to him. “I just want to let you know, my flight
is delayed. I'll probably get there about two hours late, by the time I pick up
the rental car and get through traffic."
Karen hung up, cleaned
the living room then sat on the couch and cried. Why had he decided to
come? After all these years. Why did he reach out to her now? She was a
horrible mother, unfit, unworthy.
Karen was on strong
medication and she
was prohibited from driving. Joe was working on a big project; he couldn't make
it to the airport. Because of her inabilities, Bobby had to rent a car; she was
going to offer him cash when he arrived to cover the cost. She was always an
inconvenience to everyone.
Karen sobbed harder
thinking of the fight earlier with Kaitlyn. Her heart sank; she was convinced
she made an even worse stepmother. All she wanted was for Kaitlyn to
finish school. But no matter what she said, Kaitlyn objected, it's been like
that since the day they met. She didn't know how to get through to her.
Two ambulances left the
scene, sirens blasting, lights flashing as Kaitlyn sat in deep thought under
the shade of the mimosa tree. “Would that young man live? Did she help or do
harm?” She couldn’t bear to think about it.
She forced her thoughts elsewhere.
She pondered her future.
She knew she wanted an exciting career, though she wasn't sure exactly what
that meant. School was tedious and she hated being forced to take classes she
had no interest in. She complained no end about the elective her counselor
had stuck her in. She had needed an elective and that one was available and fit
into her schedule nicely. It was perfect the counselor insisted. Perfect
for him, maybe, but not for her.
She wanted to quit
college, but shewas waiting for the perfect time to tell her
Dad. Only Stepmonster had overheard her,
or eavesdropped, as she was talking to Jennifer settling their plans for that
evening and discussing all of life’s problems and mysteries. She thought about
how Karen had once again stuck her nose where it didn’t belong. “Why are you
listening to me?” Kaitlyn yelled at her. “I’m not listening to you; I walked
past your room. I’m not paying attention
to you.” Karen wasn’t completely honest.
She had not intentionally listened, but she had heard. Kaitlyn knew it. “Don’t
say anything to my Dad; just keep your mouth shut, if you can,”
Kaitlyn shot. That’s when the screaming
Kaitlyn almost stayed
home sick the day they were learning CPR, but, the Stepmonster had seen through
her ploy and insisted she go. Kaitlyn went; better to deal with taking a test
she forgot to study for and drudging through CPR training in an elective class
she didn’t want, than dealing with being nagged and yelled at all day by
Her mother wouldn't have
forced her to go to school; she wouldn't have nagged her or screamed at her. She
would have never told her she can't fake her way through life and lectured her
about having to do things she didn't want to do or lectured her about facing life's
challenges. No, her mother would have held her tight, made her soup and
toast and put on her favorite TV show, that’s how she remembered her, that’s
what she has longed for since that horrid night. Stepmonster did none of that. Kaitlyn
The road opened up again
and a police officer waved traffic through. As Kaitlyn passed the intersection,
the last tow truck was leaving with the car that had been overturned. She made
the sign of the cross and said a little prayer for the driver as she turned
left toward the train station.
The hour train ride
alone into Penn Station was tedious. She wasn’t in the mood to party anymore. Kaitlyn
kept busy texting her friends and reading Facebook posts on her phone, it kept
her from wondering about that poor young man in the accident.
She was happy to read
the text saying they changed plans and were awaiting her arrival at a
restaurant and club right near Penn.She realized she was starving and she was relieved not
to have to hail a cab across town.
Bobby had landed at
Kennedy forty minutes late due to the delay. He waited on the long line for his
rental car, chatting with a pretty blonde in front of him. He was tired and
wasn't looking forward to the one hour drive to Long Island. He was also
nervous. He wished he could delay meeting
his Mom now, he was hesitating, but he had to go through with it. He’d come
Karen had pulled herself
together and was prepping dinner when her cell jolted her. She knew the voice
on the other end, though it had been years since she'd heard it.
"Karen, it's John." The voice was familiar, yet sounded
lifeless. "I just got a call, Bobby's been in a serious accident, they
said he's at Stony Brook hospital. I'm catching the next flight. I'll meet you
there." Karen fell to her knees, dropping her phone which slid into
the middle of the floor.
After a deep breath, she
stood up, her heart palpitating. She searched for car keys, throwing gum,
paper, a brush out of the junk drawer Joe kept it all in. She found the set of
keys, grabbed her purse and ran out of the house, her cell still lying on the
kitchen floor. “All this is my fault,” she thought as she fought her way
through traffic, terrified, her hands shaking at the wheel. She shouldn't be
driving, she hadn't in years, but she had to get to Bobby and without thinking,
she jumped in Joe's weekend car and left.
Karen had believed she
was doing the right thing all those years ago. It was better to leave Bobby,
let John raise him. What good was she going to do him from a mental hospital?
The depression, anxiety and PTSD had overwhelmed her; she had even tried taking
her own life. She didn't blame John or his lawyers for fearing for the safety
of Bobby in her care. John was concerned. Look what Andrea Yates had done,
drowning all those innocent children. Would he come home to a house of horrors
one day? He had to be proactive. He felt for Karen, but he had to protect their
Karen feared for Bobby
too, so she gave him up, for his own good, she felt useless to him. And now,
look what she had caused. Her father was right; he always told her it was all
her fault. “You stupid, inconsiderate, brat, can’t you keep quiet? I have to
sleep. I work my fingers to the bone on the graveyard shift to feed your
scraggly butt. I got fired today,
because of you, because you can’t shut up. I was too tired at work, I kept
falling asleep because you keep me up, you can’t play quietly.” Her father pounded the metal table,
snarling at her, his face red with rage.
He grabbed the bottle of vodka from the counter, like he did every day,
and stormed out to the shed.
Karen sat, head down,
guilt filling her whole body, chastising herself for being such a bad,
disgraceful child. When the bottle was empty, Karen knew, he’d be back for
her. She’d be made to pay for getting
him fired. He will lock her in the closet, in the dark, to think about her
horrid ways and why she ruins everyone’s life. Then he’ll make her write an
essay on how to be quiet and not get her father fired. Because of her, there would
be no money and no food. Karen grabbed two apples, a slip of crackers, a spoon
and a half-filled jar of jelly. She ran to her room and hid it all under her
stuffed animals on her bed. She laid on of the pile, whimpering and
rocking back and forth. She was dozing when she heard the familiar
What was happening in
that shed, Karen couldn’t imagine, she only knew it must be bad if her mother
was screaming and crying so loudly. No one was around to hear for miles, just
her. She prayed for sleep so she wouldn’t have to see her mom when she came
back to the house. She knew her mom hated the shed, but her father would demand
she serve him food or bring him supplies. She hated seeing her, sometimes with
clumps of her hair missing, her eyes swollen shut, once she was bleeding from
her nose. Her arms always looked various shades of black, blue, green, different
colors blending on her skin. Often her clothing was rumpled and one time Karen
saw her shorts ripped and what looked like blood on the back of them.
After signing the
required paperwork, Bobby rushed through the lot to find his rental car,
carrying his wallet, cell, several papers and the keys. Just as he opened the
door, his cell rang. He answered, "Hello." It was his friend
Dave, who had moved to New York City two years prior. "Hey,
Buddy. I heard through the grapevine you were in town, let's hang
out." Bobby responded, "Yeah man, I was going to get in touch,
just heading to Long Island to meet my mom, maybe Saturday." Dave
warned him, "Oh, man, you are going to hit a ton of traffic at this time
Bro., bumper to bumper." Bobby was not happy about his one hour
drive turning into a two-and-a-half-hour
Karen ran into Stony
Brook emergency room and grabbed the first person she saw, shouting about how
she had to find her son. It had taken over an hour from John's call until her arrival at the hospital. Friday rush-hour traffic, her panic and unstable driving all contributed to the delay.
After what seemed like hours, a nurse came out and led
her to a dimly lit room. Bobby lay flat on his back, eyes closed. There were tubes
coming from his mouth, an IV in each arm, stickers with wires all over his
chest. A machine made a low rhythmic hum and little blue and green lights
Karen sat next to him in
the chair the nurse offered. "How is he?" she asked. "He's a lucky
guy," the nurse replied. "He made it through surgery amazingly well. I heard a young lady started CPR at the scene.
She saved his life." Karen said a silent thank you to the
young person she was so grateful for, her body shaking, her stomach nauseous,
the palpitations making it difficult to breathe.
Jennifer and the girls
were in full party mode when Kaitlyn arrived. They were twenty-one now;
they could drink, legally, not that they hadn't drank before. After
dinner, they went to the club on the opposite side of the restaurant. That's
where Kaitlyn first laid eyes on him.
He was cute, tall,
built, light brown hair, big brown eyes and had an amazing smile. He was
talking with another guy and they were holding beers. She couldn't keep her
eyes off him. He noticed her too; her long, curly blonde hair struck him as he
admired her over his friend's shoulder. He told his friend he was going to ask
her to dance.
screamed over the music as he approached Kaitlyn. "Hey," she yelled
back. “Why aren’t you dancing?” he asked her. “Just not in the mood tonight,”
she responded. "I'm Robert, my friends call me Rob." She was mesmerized
by his beautiful eyes. She smiled and said, "Nice to meet you Robert, I'm
Kaitlyn, my friends call me Kaitlyn," she giggled. He smiled. "Would
you possibly be in the mood to dance with me?"
Joe arrived home from
work and immediately noticed his car missing. He walked into an empty house. He
found Karen's cell phone in the middle of the kitchen floor surrounded by what
appeared to be garbage strew around it, but no note, no message, nothing. He was
in a panic, was she having another episode, did she take his car; she shouldn't
be behind the wheel. Carrie flashed through his mind. He shivered. “My God, if
she’s driving, she could kill herself or innocent people, what the hell is
Karen and Joe had met at
the mental hospital in North Carolina. She was a patient; he was there to meet
with the head of the department on legal matters. He was going to advise his
old college pal on a court case.
Karen was sitting in the
department head's office when Joe arrived. Apparently, the office manager
mistakenly had him walk in on a meeting, only the department head wasn't there,
just Karen, sitting and waiting quietly. "I'm sorry," Joe
apologized. Their eyes met and Karen said, "It’s ok, it's just
It was an unlikely
meeting and even more unlikely that they formed a relationship. He could have
lost his job, it wasn't ethical, but something about Karen intrigued him. There
was more to her than her mental problems, he could see that. Each time he
visited with his college buddy at the facility, he stopped to check on Karen.
Joe did pro bono work
for a women’s shelter yearly. Something in Karen screamed help me, yet she was
also loving, strong and funny. He felt the need to protect her, save her. He
played a big part in her release from the hospital. She felt calmer around him.
When he offered to find her an apartment on Long Island, she accepted. She
couldn’t go back to John and Bobby, she was too afraid of disrupting their
lives, of ruining it all. She didn’t want it to be all her fault anymore; she
would stay away for their own good. She didn’t deserve them, they deserved
better than her.
Frantic, Joe tried to
call Kaitlyn several times but she didn't hear her cell over the loud music and
was too involved with Robert to bother checking her phone. Joe called every
friend he could think of then dialed some friends at the local precinct.
Karen sat at Bobby's
side, unable and unwilling to leave. She forgot everything else; she just sat
stroking his light brown hair, praying for him to be ok. The door opened and a
nurse led John in. Their eyes met and then she turned toward Bobby as tears
streamed down her face. “I’m sorry I did this,” were her first words to John. He
just nodded somberly, he knew she wasn’t to blame, but he knew all too well,
there was no use in trying to convince her otherwise.
John looked at the young
man lying in the bed, then back at Karen, shocked. "My God, Karen,"
he said. "Oh my God, Karen.” He was on the verge of hyperventilating. “Oh
my God.” Karen shook her head in
despair. Eyes gazed on the bed, he muttered softly,
"That's not Bobby." Karen stared at him stunned, she froze, her
fingers stuck in the strands of a stranger’s light brown hair.
Karen and John left the
young man's side. They were standing in the Emergency room lobby waiting for
hospital officials when Joe came bolting in. He'd heard from his friends in the
police department. "How is he?" he asked, hugging Karen.
"It's not him," she replied. The three of them peered at one
another perplexed; they didn't know what to make of it.
Where was Bobby?
No one had heard from him. Who was that young man lying there and why did
the police think it was Bobby?
Karen introduced Joe to
John and the three of them decided to go back to the house in Setauket to
attempt to figure this mess out. They left Joe’s weekend car in the hospital
lot, he’d pick it up later or tomorrow with Kaitlyn or a friend.
Karen grabbed her cell
the minute she walked in, forgetting she could have called it for messages.
She hit the message folder and put it on speaker. "Hey, mom, it's
me. I'll be a bit later than expected. Don't hold dinner. See you later,”
Bobby’s voice boomed through the room.
Bobby decided to take
Dave up on his offer. He was just getting into his rental car when he answered
Dave's call. Dave was right; the traffic was going to be a nightmare. Rather
than rent the car, he would meet Dave in the city, have dinner and hang for a
bit. After rush hour, Dave had promised to drive him to Long Island. Bobby
chose to save the much-needed money and went back into the airport to see if he
could get refund. The young sales representative agreed, much to his surprise,
probably due to his pitiful brown eyes. How could she say no.
Robert and Kaitlyn sat
at the bar with his friend while Jennifer and the rest of the girls danced. "So,
you are headed to Long Island," Kaitlyn said to Robert. "I live
there, where are you going?" Smiling, Robert responded, "That's
a damn good question. I don't remember. I can't find my wallet. I had the
address on a scrap of an envelope in my wallet. I know, I know, I should put
that stuff in my phone.” Kaitlyn shook
her head, amused. “When I called, I got a voicemail. I didn't realize I didn't
have my wallet then. I'm waiting for a call back; I'll ask the address." He
glanced at his phone and saw a message. He hadn’t heard it ring over the music.
Kaitlyn loved his
accent. She was enchanted. She followed him out front to the
sidewalk where he could play the voicemail and hear it. Robert hit the envelope
and held the phone to his ear. "Bobby, it's Mom, where are you, call
me, I need to talk to you now." Her voice sounded frantic. Oh no, is
she really the loony he always heard she was; the gossip through town had made
it to his ears.
"Excuse me,” he
said to Kaitlyn. “I have to return this call." She stepped aside,
giving him some privacy. "Hi mom?" Karen was practically
hysterical, "Where are you, what are you doing?" He was annoyed. They
hadn’t even met yet and she was already nagging him and giving him crap. "I'm
in the city with a friend, I'll be there later. Relax, mom. Don't get
crazy." He immediately regretted using the word crazy. He asked for the
address and hung up.
"Well, I'm supposed
to be heading to Setauket," he said walking up to Kaitlyn.
"Really?" He looked into her bright eyes, "Yes, really."
Kaitlyn was hesitant. "That's where I live,” He shook his
head, "Sure you do." Kaitlyn smiled, "honestly, that's
where I live." Kaitlyn looked at him intently. "So where in Setauket
are you headed?" He read her the address he'd punched into his phone as
his mom gave it to him. Kaitlyn stared at him, silent.
wrong?" Robert asked. She didn't say a word. "Kaitlyn, what's
going on?" Kaitlyn whispered, "Are you Bobby?" He looked
at her. "I was called Bobby when I was little, now most people call me
Robert or Rob." Her eyes were wide. "Well, Rob, I live at the address
you just gave me, it's my Dad's house, which means it's also your Mom's
house." They walked back into the club in silence, both too overwhelmed to
Bobby thought back as he
waited in line
for the men's room in the club. This couldn't be possible. The girl he
met was nothing like the spoiled, nasty brat his mom had described. He thought
about Dave's call. He'd been juggling everything as he entered the car
while answering his cell. His wallet must have slipped from his hands and
he never realized it. He thought back to his conversations with his mother; she
sounded so tender and pleasant, yet tonight, she sounded out of control and
panicked. What was happening?
Joe called his friends
at the police station. He explained that the victim was not his wife's son,
which they had already been informed of by the hospital. He asked them
why they thought it was Bobby. The officer explained, "A wallet was found
lodged between the driver's seat and the center console, the license belonged
to Bobby. We contacted his father from the address on his license."
Rob and Kaitlyn sat at
the bar enjoying a drink. They introduced Jennifer and Dave to one
another and the two joined them with their own drinks. Dave was treating Rob
for dinner and drinks since Rob had lost his wallet. Rob promised to pay
him back, though Dave had refused.
The group devised a
plan. Dave would buy Rob a train ticket, he'd take the train from Penn to
Ronkonkoma with Kaitlyn and her friends and Kaitlyn would give him a ride to,
well, their parents' house.
As they rode the train
from Penn, Kaitlyn told Rob all about the accident earlier, about performing
CPR and how scared she was doing it. She
mentioned the incident caused the delay in meeting her friends. They sat together
and chatted the whole hour. He confided that he had been scared to contact
his mother, he was afraid she wouldn't want to meet him, she would be loony
like everyone said, she wouldn't recognize him... he went on and on. He said
his best friend's mom had finally convinced him to reach out.
Kaitlyn comforted him.
"Your mom's not loony. She cares for you very much. She's a smart lady and
a great cook." It was the first time Kaitlyn had ever said anything nice
about her stepmother. It frightened her. Was she betraying her mother?
She remembered when she was twelve, coming
home early from soccer practice. She'd seen Karen sitting on the bed, looking
at a small picture, her eyes red and puffy. Kaitlyn had snuck into the room
when Karen went to the bathroom to clean up. She saw a small picture lying
on the bedspread of a little blonde boy. "It must be Bobby," she
thought, enraged. She was tired of hearing about Bobby all the time, over and
over, Bobby this and Bobby that. Why wasn't her Dad as sick of it as she was?
Kaitlyn wanted to rip
the picture into little pieces. How dare Karen cry over him now. She left him,
by choice. Her mother would have never left her, she was taken from her. Now
Kaitlyn wondered, maybe Karen had no choice, just like her mom had no choice.
They reached Ronkonkoma
and parted ways with Jennifer and the girls. Kaitlyn was glad to have Rob with
her walking through the dark parking lot. "Nice SUV," Rob said as
they entered her vehicle. Kaitlyn decided to take the back roads to her house;
she thought it would be prettier scenery for Rob she explained, even if it was
dark outside. She secretly wanted to take a longer ride; she wanted to keep
talking with him.
As they approached the
site where the accident had occurred, they got stuck at a red light. Kaitlyn
pointed out the spot and explained in detail how the car had flipped and the
driver had been pulled halfway out of the open window. She told how she had given
him CPR right there in the street and how terrified she was. She said she’s
been praying for him all night and wondering if he was going to be ok.
The light changed and as
they drove through the intersection, Rob watched a young guy bent over picking
up debris some ways
down from the scene of the accident hours ago.
The teen was walking
home along the service road when he saw something lying on the side of the
road, near the sewer. It was black and blended in with the sewer, but the
small, shiny metal on the front of the object was glowing in the light from the
street lamp. He bent to pick it up. It was a wallet, a wallet with a lot of
money in it. Five Hundred dollars to be exact. "Holy crap," he
thought. He'd heard about the accident, the flipped car. "This must have
flown out of the car when it flipped," he surmised. “I can’t believe it
flew this far down the road.” He went to step back onto the curb and his foot
crunched something. A cell phone, black, was lying on top of the grate on the curb
attached to the sewer.
The teen took out his cell and dialed 911. The
dispatcher said a patrol car would meet him at his house.
Before continuing his journey home, the teen glanced around once more. A Starbucks cup lay not far from the sewer, some small pieces of glass were still in the street near the curb and it looked like tiny pieces of the bumper also lay surrounding the cup.
The police weren't sanitation workers, the teen knew. They would pick up the dangerous parts, and anything blocking roadways, but they were busy and they never worried about the little stuff or looked too closely along the curb. Having lived on the service road his whole life, he was used to hearing and witnessing accidents and expected the debris that was always left behind.
As they drove towards
home, Kaitlyn and Rob talked about where he lived, what they were studying and
what their dreams were. Kaitlyn said, "I know what I want to do now. I've been thinking about it all night. I
want to become an EMT. I want to help save lives. It's exciting, I won't be in
some stuffy office, I won't have to wear a fancy suit and heels every day and
each day will be different." She could handle it, she knew it now. “I know
I need more training, but with practice, I can do it,” She was determined to
put the memories of her mother and her fear behind her to do the job. Rob
admired her goals as much as he did her beautiful, blonde curls and gorgeous
blue eyes that were lit up with excitement and determination.
Karen, Joe and John sat
in the living room sipping coffee and nibbling on cookies, finally calmed down,
when the front door opened. "It's Kaitlyn," Joe said. The three
of them looked up, speechless, as Kaitlyn and Bobby walked in together,
smiling, hand in hand. Bobby looked across the room, "Dad? What the hell
are you doing here?"
Kaitlyn looked at Karen.
She was grateful. If Karen hadn't argued with her that afternoon, she wouldn't
have been late for her train. She would have arrived at the station the same
time as her friends had and she would have completely missed the accident. No
one else there knew CPR. Performing CPR that day gave her total insight on what she now knew she wanted to do. Who would have helped that poor young man? The girls
would have eaten dinner earlier in the city at their original pick, rather than
the restaurant and club near Penn her friends chose as they awaited her
If Bobby's plane hadn't
been delayed, he would have been well on his way to Long Island when Dave
called. They would have never met for dinner near Penn, where Bobby took the
train from JFK.
Karen stared at them.
She finally spoke. "How... why, what are you two doing together?"
Bobby glanced around the
room, then said, "Happenstance."
Happenstance was always
John's explanation to Bobby when Bobby was very young. He'd ask why mommy never
came home anymore. John would simply say, happenstance, Karen's favorite word.
How do you explain
mental illness to a child? John hoped the one word allowed the child to believe
his mother was somewhere in a happy place. Through the years, when Bobby would
ask John about unusual or surprising occurrences, he'd simply respond,
Karen stood and
approached her son, staring deeply into his brown eyes. She reached
up and gently put her arms around his neck. She held him tight, hugged him for
a long time, then reached out to Kaitlyn and pulled her in.
It was the first time
Kaitlyn and Karen hugged or had any physical contact. Tears wet Kaitlyn's face
as she stood there, arms tight around Karen and Bobby. She thought of her mom
and realized, Carrie would be ok with it. She would want Kaitlyn to be hugged,
it wouldn’t anger her that another woman was hugging her daughter, it would
make her happy. Kaitlyn felt relief from her head to her toes. She wasn’t
betraying her mother; she would always love her even if she also loved others.
Happenstance brought them all together that night. It made everything much
Kaitlyn turned from
Bobby and Karen towards her Dad. "Dad, I did CPR today, I remembered how.
I want to become an EMT. I know I can do it, Dad. There was this awful accident