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M & J

She had paint splatters on her wall. Paint splatters and a Garfield© phone. I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Remember when there was an option with your phone lines to get individual numbers so that each person had a distinctive ring?  She had that.  I still remember the number. The family dog was a dalmation – a purebred.  I was dazzled.

I’d always had friends, that was nothing new. Here in the Bible Belt you grow up in a church with a group of people — those people are your friends. It’s just a given. But this, this was different.  This was a friend that I chose before I thought I was supposed to choose my own friends. She didn’t go to church with me, and amazingly enough the gates of hell did not threaten to swallow her household on Sunday morning. Not only was I a daredevil, I was a maverick.

She made me watch the X-Files on VHS, over and over, knowing that it scared the piss out of me. Her mother was into health food and we made brown rice and chicken for after-school snacks…but when her mom wasn’t lookingwe’d devour whole boxes of fat free cookies. We made huge messes. Huge. Once we made a JellO No Bake Cheesecake, and in some twisted “Upside down thick/JellO stays in the same place” confusion, it ended up on the kitchen floor. It was still good.

I’d never ridden a go-cart. Somewhere on video she has my first ride. We borrowed clothes and mine always looked better on her. When we started wearing makeup she always did mine for me if it was important.

We got drivers’ licenses together, went on dates. Went to band camp and shared crushes. Limopooled to the prom. 

College. We grew apart. I missed her. She was in music, I was in English. Different circles of friends.

I married. She wore a flower at the wedding and I felt like I hadn’t seen her in years.

He proposed to her. I didn’t like him, he told her what to wear and where not to go. I made it to the wedding and sat on the edge of the crowd. She looked beautiful, he looked handsome.

She moved away. I mourned the friendship that had been part of my identity. I got second and third-hand updates.

One day, an errant email crossed my inbox and I thought of her. I sent it to her, an old address that I figured probably didn’t work. Within a few hours I had a response. She was home. Left him. She was true to herself as I’d always known she would be.

She moved into our spare room. I had my friend back and she was rebuilding her life. I liked the next guy. He fit. He loved her. I stood nine months pregnant in heels for her June wedding, proud of what she’d become.

Moved away again, this time closer. I stood with my second child wrapped to my chest as her first was born. I look back now on what we’ve accomplished. Together. Apart.

I’m so thankful.



If I have ever ever ever in my life said anything bad about firemen or EMTs, I take it back. I’m so sorry. They saved my son’s life last night.

So we go eat at my mom’s, and come home. Josh sets up shop with the xBox and I strike out to tan. Kids in bed.

I come home, speak with Josh for a bit, shower, and put on pj’s. Headed for bed, I stop in the kids’ bedroom to check on them.

Max is lying on the bed, eyes wide open, motionless. No color in his face at all. I went over to him, thinking he was playing a joke or something, and his eyes are unblinking and he’s completely limp. I shake him a little bit, in case he was just creepily asleep with his eyes open. Nothing. He was breathing, shallowly, but that’s all.

Oh my god. Oh my GOD! I don’t know what to do. I don’t. I don’t.

I call for Josh, and he comes in, tries much of the same. Nothing. Max’s face gets pastier and pastier.

“Get some clothes on, Emily. Call someone to keep Ava.”

Josh runs out the front door, and I try and make Max sit up. He sits up, and spews his supper out of his mouth. No effort on his part at all. He was totally unconscious. Puked again, still limp as a rag. He stops breathing.

“Max, breathe! Please, Max, breathe!”

I pick up my limp baby boy and run for the front door. I step onto the porch and see my neighbor Tonya the nurse following Josh to the house. Thank God he was there. She starts to run, takes Max from me, and into my next door neighbor’s kitchen floor.

My God. This is my kid. MY KID. What am I going to do if this doesn’t work? What will happen if I lose him? I can’t do that! God he looks so bad. what did I do? Why is this happening? Max baby baby baby please come back….

As I am half dressed and covered in vomit, they send me inside to change clothes while we wait for the paramedics. I changed into shorts and a T-shirt and got outside just in time for the firemen.

They file into Ms. Elise’s kitchen where Max is in the floor, and Tonya has evidently been breathing for him. Oxygen tanks, “Wake up, Max!, Wake up!”, and a lot of blurs later, Max starts to wail. The ambulance arrives. I end up in the kitchen floor trying to talk to Max while they mess with him, and before long we’re in the ambulance. Me in front, Josh inside the house. I keep hearing Max say, “NO!” and even once, “You get away!” Atta boy.

Well, great. Who do I call? Dan — Scotland. Deborah — New York. My mom — would just freak out.

I call Jodie. Poor thing. Tell her what’s going on.

We eventually arrive at the hospital, Max crying in the back all the way. The ambulance guys were super nice, as were the firemen. I solemnly state that I would give any one of those men a kidney.

Go inside, and they poke Max with needles, electrodey things, all that. CAT scan, which he hated. Thank God for Josh again…I would never have been able to hold Max down like that. Xrays. They had to put him in some torturous looking thing for the x-rays, and he quite plainly wailed to Josh, “Save me!”

All that time. We were there forever. Finally got home this morning at like 3.

We don’t know what happened. Max feels like a million bucks today, though.

Thank God for Josh. For my neighbors. For Karen the wonderbabysitter. For the emergency team. For Ava my calm, complacent little girl who did not cause trouble of her own. For my sweet, sweet little boy whose first words to me during this whole episode were “To da moon…da moon and back.” As in, “I love you to the moon and back.”

My photos. My life.


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