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Monday, November 15, 2010

In case of emergency

There wasn’t anything unusual about the white form attached to a gray clipboard at the doctor’s office. It was all very standard, you see, nothing out of the ordinary.

There were questions about my family medical history. My medical history. The first day of my last menstrual period. There were lots of boxes to check, things to circle, a lifetime of illness to disclose since it was the first time I visited that particular office. Then I landed on a question that evoked a physical response. My stomach quivered, my vision clouded, and I needed a deep breath to steady myself even though I was seated.

A blank line needed the name and telephone number of my emergency contact.

Stumped was how I felt, even though it was a question I’d answered dozens of times in the past 15 years. A question that never evoked any kind of response, outside of a slight hesitation as I wondered the street address of FIC's office.

I dug through my purse for a tissue, but ended up using the sleeve of my favorite sweatshirt to dab away that feeling that left a salty residue between my nose and cheek. My eyes shot a glance around the mostly empty waiting room to see if anyone caught my emotional response to the black on white of medical paperwork.

I thought I’d gotten through all the tears. I thought the hard part was over. All those decision … You keep the bunk beds, but I want the 80-pound wooden frog we saved from the trash in Westboro, Massachusetts in 1996. You get Rogue Wave concerts and I get the silver reindeer with the antlers that hold tea candles – that holiday decoration I always joked our grandchildren would make fun of. You get Easter, I get Thanksgiving, and we’ll alternate Halloween and Christmas. But clearly, I hadn’t dealt with all of the ramifications and emotions of divorce.

Then I shook it off and realized it’s just a name. It’s just another change I didn’t know needed to be made, sort of like my address with the DMV (still haven’t done that).

I penciled in my mother’s name, her out-out-state cell phone number, and was grateful that I have her helping out with my kids when I’m in school. When I need to go to the gynecologist. Even with her name on the paper, there was a sadness. I don’t think it was a longing for my marriage, but rather a longing for the stability that comes with a long-term relationship. Of knowing without a slight hesitation, who will be there if there’s an emergency.