The Domino Effect of Tragedy

Isn’t it funny how sometimes in life the biggest issues, problems, crises, or challenges seem to just silently occur? My day was filled with such things. In fact, the last month has been particularly filled with such events as has been the last 5 years since leaving my second husband. I think these quiet appearances of the most dramatic aspects of life may have always occurred, but I just didn’t pay attention to them…until I was truly on my own and found myself forced by circumstances to do so.

Today was a big day. It was one of those days that will not easily nor quickly be forgotten.

It was big in that it contained a number of dramatic episodes (I don’t necessarily mean dramatic, as in the train wreck drama we see on the Bachelor) and it was big in that each of these episodes were significant. Any one of them happening on their own day would have made for a memorable day, yet they all happened today.

This day started out being significant since it was the day I was scheduled to meet with my surgeon regarding my second biopsy. I find that the emotions experienced prior to consulting with a surgeon about what will be involved in the process of him cutting you open and splaying you out on the operating table like venison drying for the winter season, are a bit like young children awaiting the arrival of Santa Clause. “Oh goody,” I kept telling myself. “I can’t wait to see what I’m going to get. Will there be drugs? Do I get to fall asleep? How about days off? I wonder how many of those I will get. Can I keep the nightie? Will there be candy?” The mere fact that I was finally going to get some of my most pressing questions about my upcoming surgery answered made today a big day.

But I started this post by suggesting that some of the most critical and dramatic times in my life occurred quietly. I find this particularly true when a car engine finally utters it’s last breath. When an engine blows, it makes no noise; instead it suddenly becomes very, very quiet. That was the case this morning as I drove my daughter’s car to take my two teenagers (who are both of driving age and yet don’t even have their permits) to school. As we turned off the exit, I began hearing some new and unusual noises. They sounded nauseatingly similar to the sounds my old 1987 Nissan Sentra made the summer of 2008 when, just six months after my second marriage ended, it breathed its last. I no sooner uttered the words to my kids, “I sure hope this car makes it to the school,” than the car went silent on me. In surreal fashion I manhandled the vehicle down the highway to the first cross street, around the corner, and into a vacant used car lot. Silence, the entire way. As the car coasted to a halt in the middle of this abandoned lot, the three of us audibly exhaled, finally breaking the silence. Dramatic event, begun silently.

Of course, while things might begin quietly, I notice the low-volume moments never last long. In fact, they seem most often followed immediately by noise and a frenzy of activity. In my case, after the requisite amount of swearing was done, I had the immediate problem of getting my kids to school and figuring out how and what I was going to do with this car. This led me right into what I like to call the Domino Effect of Tragedy: when tragedy hits events begin transpiring with one leading into another and into another and so on until before you know the crisis has passed and you are home writing a silly blog post about it and you’re still so wired you can’t sleep.

Things just fell like one domino into another making room for my appointment with Santa Surgeon. Swallow anger and call the boyfriend I’m angry with because he’s behaving like a middle-schooler in life right now to get a ride. Call mechanic I met online two years ago, went out with once, and never became anything more than Facebook friends with, to see if this is the kind of work he does. Find out that, yes, he does. Contact Triple A, hoping I renewed the membership last August and breathe a sigh of relief when I find out I not only did, but I got the Plus membership. (I really needed those hundred free miles of towing today!) Meet tow truck back at car after getting kids to school and rushing home to shower. Rush off to Surgeon. Fill out mass paperwork and sign my life away, hope the insurance pays, wait in the waiting room for what seems an endless amount of time. Listen with fascination as Surgeon draws diagrams of ducts and cells in magenta dry erase marker on a personal size white board. Endure yet another breast exam. Meet with scheduler. Jump in car and drive two and a half hours to oldest daughter’s university to pick up my car (we’d switched so I could save some money on gas). Order lunch at a sub shop where it takes the kid working there a good 30 minutes to make two foot-long sub sandwiches. Say a rushed good-bye to the college kid who just learned her mom blew up the engine of her first car. Drive home, scoop up children from various locations and end up back home in in exactly the place where this day started. In my room, on my cell phone.

Shhhh. Listen. Outside the wind is blowing and the chimes are sounding a low melancholy tone signaling the advent of the forecasted snowstorm. The last domino of the day has fallen and, with the exception of the annoyingly juvenile boyfriend who is snoring very loudly, everyone in my house is silent.

And that is how dramatic events begin softly, create their own ensuing chaos, and then retreat back into silence from whence they started.

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Posted on January 18, 2012, in Breast Cancer, Memoirs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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