A Prayer for Sara

2/13/20 Wednesday

A year ago almost to the day, Sara gave in to the voices in her head and attempted suicide. Thankfully it was not successful, she was medically cleared from the ER within 24 hours. However it would be another 11 days before the psych hospital would let her come home. Life has not been easy for her during the last year, as she has struggled with paranoia, complications with medication, and a husband who just couldn’t take it anymore.

I know she has done the best she can, and can’t stress enough how good of a mom she can be. She has managed to look after Day during their time together, organize play dates, buy him clothes for school, and cook better meals than I ever could. I tried to help her out around the house, showing her how to restring the weed whacker, start a mower with a bad carburetor, use a pressure washer, and a dozen other things I used to do. But over time my visits became more stressful, until eventually they became just dropping off our son. Eventually we were not able to talk anymore.

Last week she started to slip. On Tuesday I found out Day wasn’t going to school. When I called the house she was distraught. She asked if I thought she was the devil. Day asked if I could come over and bring food, I said yes. Sara asked if I was coming over to remarry her. I hung up the phone, got some groceries, headed over, fixed a lunch plate for Day, talked to Sara. She asked if I forgave her for her sins, that she needed to unlock heaven’s gate. I told her not to worry, we were all ok, and thought it would be a good idea for Day to come back with me for a while. They both agreed. I called my lawyer, who called the guardian ad litem. Sara’s lawyer was notified, and called right away. It only took a couple of minutes before she determined a medical check was needed, then called 911.

Today Sara is back in the same hospital she was in a year ago. I’m not authorized to get any first hand information about her directly from any medical staff. I am in contact with her family though, and helping to organize her mom coming out to stay a while. Her mom received a call from Sara today. Her mom thinks she should stay there a little while.

We’ve never been what you would call a religious couple, but tonight before I go to bed, I’ll be putting my hands together and call up something our broken family can use right now – faith.

after-the-rain.org / Hug

Safety Nets

2/3/20 Monday

Once parked, I got out of the truck and walked up to the foredeck. I knew others were watching me, warm and safe and tucked away in their cars. It was freezing last night, and still freezing this morning, but the sun was out and with no wind I could almost imagine feeling warm. I pulled out my phone and caught random photos of whatever caught my eye: the boat, something I think is called a hawsehole, and the shadow of the safety net. I wonder how strong the net is. Twin diesel engines cranked out 6000 horsepower beneath my feet but it was hard to tell we were even under way, there was just a faint low drone of humming and the slightest of vibrations. We glided along – effortless.

after-the-rain.org / Ferry to Mukilteo

Peace, sun, water, cold. I breathed it all in until I was ready to tuck my own self away, warm and safe, back in the vehicle. Time to change gears, back to work mode. Today the truck was pulling double duty as a mobile office, equipped with a laptop, phone, notebook, construction drawings, and coffee. I was ready to transition from island time to mainland time, to join the rest of the worker bees in the greater Seattle area. I had to go to the other side for a site walk.

52 miles and two and a half hours later I arrived at one of our cell towers. It’s on city property, in the back parking lot of a fire station. The city planner had requested a meeting to run through one of our upcoming projects. She was concerned about damage to the property, obstructing fire crew access to the adjacent building, and the use of a crane we were going to need for our work. She was skeptical about the project in general.

I called in a rep from our engineering firm, a rep from the company that actually owns the tower, the manager from the construction company that would be doing the actual work, along with his foreman. Together we walked through each of the city planner’s concerns, coming up with solutions on site to address some issues we knew of in advance and some we didn’t. It was a successful meeting, and I enjoyed talking shop with everyone and working with the city planner. Although she was strict I know she was just looking out for the best interest of the fire department property. She thanked me personally for pulling everyone together for the site walk, which took me a bit by surprise and made me feel good – it had been my responsibility to make today happen.

after-the-rain.org / Hawsehole

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I wanted to write a post last night but I’m glad I didn’t. I’m not sure I could have gotten through it anyway. I had to write a long email instead, and about half way through noticed my hand was shaking.

Friday night we had a big wind storm, with wind gusts over 60 miles per hour. The power went out around dinnertime. It was my weekend with Day. We found a restaurant with a generator to supply back-up power, so we ate out. He had chicken strips and I had fish and chips. He had a kid’s menu and a cup of crayons. He turned the menu over and we took turns drawing pictures of sheep, castles, battle weapons, and a chicken surfing on a wave. He had the best attitude during the whole dinner/storm/power outage and I told him so. We were looking forward to Saturday so we could go up to the arcade in Oak Harbor, but it wasn’t to be so easy.

I woke up to texts, missed calls and voicemails from Sara. The wind had damaged the roof on the family home, blown some shingle panels right off. It was pouring down rain and she didn’t know what to do. I asked her to start an insurance claim, and grab some tarps and sandbags. Day and I loaded up and headed over. We set a plan into action: I had him cut lengths of cord, Sara filled up the sand bags, and I tied everything together and hoisted it all up a ladder to the roof. Sara came up and helped me as I walked the tarp up the steep part of the roof to put it and the bags into position. It took a long time and we both got completely soaked. It was not safe up there, with the rain it was impossible to stand up without sliding all the way down. Sara had to stand firm to keep me from falling off the edge of the roof. We worked it out though, got everything in position and came down off the roof. It felt great having the 3 of us together working out a problem. It was important to leave on a good note, so I tried to round up Day and go, but I just couldn’t get away fast enough.

Sara asked if we could talk and I said sure. She said the GAL (guardian ad litem – court ordered person who does an investigation and makes a recommendation as to the best solution for a child of parents going through a divorce) was very one sided, and that the report was inaccurate. I watched as Sara’s face turned. Her eyes flashed and her face started to twitch. Without me saying a word she started accusing me again of some very serious things, which she said she had proof of and knew people who would back her up. I asked what proof and which people but she said she was keeping that information a secret to protect them. I had heard this kind of stuff before and just wanted to leave but she wasn’t done. At some point I spoke up. I pointed out that I wasn’t interested in bringing up negative things about her to the GAL. I just don’t see her that way, and don’t remember our marriage as the horrible event she makes it out to be. I think in general she is a good person with a lot to offer the world, and I want to hang on to the good memories, forgive the bad and move on with our lives. Day and I left. We made the most of our time together but I was rattled. I hadn’t seen Sara this way in a long time.

Sunday my boy and I read, ate ham and toast, and played finger football at the kitchen counter. Later we played racquetball and went swimming. As 4pm drew near we gathered his things and headed back to Sara’s for the drop off. I wanted to ask for extra time so he and I could watch the superbowl together, but there’s no way she and I can work something like that out now. I brought his stuff in the house, said bye and turned to leave. She noticed I had a fitbit on, and I knew what was coming. A friend of mine gave me and Day two older fitbits. I synched them up, so we can see how many steps the other person has taken. We try to see who can get to 10,000 steps first. Sara thinks I synched them up for a different reason. She followed me outside and it was on. I tried to leave and she blocked my way. She started reading poetry from her phone. I said I didn’t have to listen to this and she wasn’t allowed to block me from getting in my truck to leave. She was furious and out of control, yelling the worst of accusations. Some are very serious, some are strange and I don’t recognize where they’re coming from. I had heard most of them before, so now they’ve lost their impact and shock effect. In my head I drowned out her voice, stood back and just watched. Her face was contorting wildly and I recognized it from one of the nightmares I had when she was in the hospital. My overall feeling was just sadness.

After a few minutes of me not engaging she started to calm down, throwing out a strange one I hadn’t heard before: she said I had called her sister “militant” 18 years ago. I was curious and said I didn’t remember saying that and I don’t have anything against her sister. She asked me to name her sister, I did. She asked me to name her half sisters, I did. She asked me to list where each of her sisters lived. I think I know but didn’t want to get it wrong, and told her so. She was calming down. I said I thought her sisters and mom were good people. She raised her voice and said I couldn’t keep her from seeing her family. I said I wouldn’t. She was still mad but I could see this episode was over. I got in the truck and left. I felt like calling the police to do a welfare check, but that would scare Day. I also knew if the police saw her in that condition they would call for medical, and it would be possible they would take her to the ER, and I know what they have the power to recommend. Instead I visited both next door neighbors, told them no details but made sure they still had my phone number, and to call me anytime if they felt like it. I was worried about Day and didn’t know what else to do. I don’t want her to do anything to him. I don’t want her to do anything to herself, and I don’t want her to be taken away again. I don’t want to keep fighting this battle. I call my best friend and tell him everything, trying to fight back the tears. He helps me keep it together.

after-the-rain.org / Safety net