In Case of Emergency: In Memory of My Father
It has been 10 years now since my father passed on November 11 2001 of lung cancer. Over the years the words my father spoke to me as a child have often been fondly remembered. Five years ago I went through a very trying and tragic time in my life and it wasn't until recently that I realized that something my father said over and over again when I was young had actually helped me get through that time successfully.
I can recall it like it was yesterday he always said that In the case of an emergency you have to keep a level head do what needs to be done help who needs to be helped and then and only then can you sit down and fall apart. Strange words these were to me as a child silly almost. Little did I know that my father was preparing me for the worst trying time in my life and with out those words almost pounded into my mind I might not have made it through.
In June of 2007 I came home after shopping for sheets for my new bed in my new apartment that I shared with my best friend. I was for the first time since I left home and got married at the tender age of 20 on my own trying to rebuild my life after leaving my husband of 10 years.
I can remember it like it was yesterday I walked in the door put my bag down and looked at my cell phone realizing I had missed a phone call from a man I had been seeing for a short time. I walked into the bathroom of my apartment to freshen up before I gave him a call back. Before I could even start to freshen up my phone rang again I looked at the number and was shocked to see it was my soon to be ex-husbands girlfriend calling. Hmmm I thought what could she possibly want from me? I took a deep breath and then answered it. Hello I said and very quickly she says please don't hang up I need to tell you something very important. More curious I took a deep breath and said okay go on.
She then began to tell me that my daughter had came to her and told her that my ex-husband had sexually abused her. I became almost speechless but some how found the voice inside to ask her if she was okay and if she was safe. Yes she says I am keeping her from him. In shock I just stood there knowing my daughter was 2000 miles away and desperately needed her mother. I thanked her for telling me almost robotic-ally hung up the phone and walked into the living room.
I was then greeted by my best friend and my brother both looking at me like they knew something was wrong. I just looked at them blankly almost numb until they finally said what, what is wrong. I proceed to tell them what I had just heard and they to became shocked my best friend had a look of fury in her eyes and my brother looked just as numb as i did almost catatonic for a few seconds. Then almost at the same time my brother and I said we have to go get her. My brother guided me around helping me pack a suite case and proceeded to let my mother know what was happening and let her know we were taking her car on a cross country trip to rescue my daughter.
My best friend wanted to go desperately but she knew that she had to stay behind for her daughter my niece and to keep our jobs at the gym that we were both employed. She did everything she could to help us prepare for the trip. Within an hour we were on the road driving from California to Arkansas. Full Throttle petal to the metal we drove. Keeping in touch with his girlfriend since she was keeping her hidden and safe till I got there. Knowing full well at any time he could himself call the police and say this woman has my daughter.
The hours seemed to creep by I wanted to be there yesterday. My brother and I talked the whole way trying to figure out the best way to get her and then get out without having to deal with my ex-husband. He got very solemn and serious and says to me your not going to be there he is already planning to do something and trust me I have been desperate before and what he is thinking will not end well. Basically my brother was telling me he planed to kill me himself and possibly our daughter. The plan then became to have me stay at a hotel or some other location while he went and picked my daughter up. I sighed took a deep breath and said okay your right after all he had already attempted suicide what would stop him from taking it that step further to murder suicide.
As we finally approached Arkansas and his girlfriend tell us that she is actually hiding her in Missouri at her parents place and that my ex-husband thinks her father is home and is scared to death of the man so he is staying away. She then gives us a location to meet her and advises us that my ex-husband thinks we have already been there and left. So change of plans we make our way through the winding roads of Missouri to the location in the dead of night and after what seemed like forever we finally got to where she was. We jumped out of the car as did her and my daughter who ran to me screaming mommy,mommy,mommy. Holding back the tears that were forming in my throat I grabbed her and hugged her with all my might and said okay quick grab as much stuff as you can fit in the car and lets go.
With her safely in the car we sped off into the night driving plotting to go a different way home vowing to tell no one. After all he was still not in jail still out there and could at anytime try and find us. It was a long trip back looking over our shoulders the whole time not knowing what was going to happen but knowing that for now she was safe and once we were home we could figure out what to do. As I sat there staring blankly out the window listening to the sounds of my daughter sleeping those words my father had spoke to me as a child came flooding back. I had to stay calm I had to stay level headed and I had to get through this Emergency. It was far from over it was only the beginning but it was a good start.
As we drove into our home town I knew for now she was safe but I also knew that this Emergency just entered its second phase. I also knew the words my father had spoke so many years ago almost as if he knew some day I would need them would get me through the next phase and eventually things would be okay and then and only then I could fall apart.