Karma is a bitch
It’s always a beautiful day every year around this time. The sunshine still feels very warm on your face and the breeze is cold and it feels good to wear long pants again without feeling like your ass is melting off. The routine of school is working itself out and its good to have the children out of the damn house for several hours a day where I am not yelling at them to turn off the TV and clean something or at the very least not make anything more dirty.
I use to love this month when our kids were teeny. We spent most of October in Ptown and came home in time for Halloween. We would leave the Cape wearing winter jackets and hats and come back to Baltimore and wear shorts on one day and a sweater the next. October always felt exciting to me. Ramping up for winter and winding down the summer. Goodbye tomatoes, hello Apples. So long shaving my legs all the time, hello hats and not washing my hair everyday. Its easier to be slovenly in October and I like that.
Since my mom died this time of year always bums me out, now. Then after Megan died, my mom’s self-declared birthday baby, just more sadness. I really liked my mom’s birthday. I liked buying her presents, I liked doing things with her. When she became ill we spent every birthday together going away for the weekend doing something cool. Our best trip was to Deerfield MA. The nagging breathlessness and constant persistent coughing made me worry (side note: not like I would have FREAKED out about now that I am a nurse) and was kinda irritated with my mom for always being so fucking sick. She wouldn’t do the things she needed to do to be well. It was hurtful. Objectively I can see how hard it must have been. How complicated and un-fun it would be to do all the things she needed to be more healthy like quitting smoking, leaving her job and going on disability, moving in with me on the Cape so I could help take care of her and trying to avoid getting sick all the time.
I was just mad all the time. I was mad when she got sick. I was mad when she died. I am still mad that she died. I feel cheated. Just when we were really working out our Greek Tragedy of a relationship that it seems most mothers and daughters duel within, she fucking died. I am only 7 years younger now than she was when she died. 7 fucking years. She never saw me be a mom, be a nurse, raise my kids and become a reallifekindagrownup.
Its bullshit really. Its been a long time since I really really wished she were around until the other day at work. My patient seemed really really familiar to me. Her face. Her name. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I have this terrible thing where after I am done for the day, usually, I just flush their identity down the toilet and never remember them again. There are literally about 4 exceptions to this in all of my 10ish years of nursing. Only one name I can put with a face and am actually friends with in real life. I just don’t work that way in my work. Personally, I can remember every name and face and would recognize my 3rd grade crush Patrick and be able to recall to him how much I loved the bubble-gum ring he gave with the dried flowers in resin. Ask me who I took care of yesterday at work…um, er, maybe? Anyone last week? Nope. But this patient I had, she was so familiar. Sometimes I know people from my other hospital but I knew that wasn’t it. Finally, while transferring her from the ICU to a floor I remembered.
She was a pill from the moment I walked into her room that morning. Listing all the things that were wrong, how she must be moved to a different room because the vent in her room was so noisy she couldn’t sleep a wink and can’t you get me some hot coffee and some ice water and these pillows are so flat do I have to keep this IV on, really (it’s a drip of cardiac medication she is in the ICU to get. so um, yep). I asked her on our way to the floor finally realizing who she might be, “Did you teach 4th grade at ……… school?” She smiled and said “YES! Were you a student there?” I said I was, that in fact she was my 4th grade teacher. My patient said, “Oh, how wonderful, what is your name? ” I tell her. I have a REALLY REALLY unusual last name. Like, so unusual that if you have ever heard of my last name I am totally related to them. Like, anywhere they might be, they are my immediate family of uncles and cousins and aunts. She smiles and says in a voice that is trying to hide something, “Oh, that doesn’t sound familiar. I hope I was a good teacher and you had a good year!”
I smile and change the subject and say something to the extremely nice and helpful Tech that is helping me transport her. The tech keeps saying, “How cool! that is so neat. What a weird cool thing!……blahblahblah.” I keep smiling and pushing her in the wheelchair to her room.
Handoff is given, she is settled into her room.
I walk out to go back with my Tech and tell her that woman tortured me. She was so awful to me. It was one of the worst years of my entire life. I only attended that school for one year and then my mom divorced my stepfather and we moved to a different town and school district making my 5th grade year the 4th elementary school I attended in 6 years. This teacher was horrible. She called me dirty and stupid all the time. I got a bad heat rash and she sent me to the nurse who sent me home saying that the teacher suspected I had scabies. My grandfather picked me up and took me to the doctor who proclaimed it heat rash-just like I thought it was familiar as I was being a rashy child with eczema and allergic to everything that bit me. I was sent back to school the next day with the new knowledge my teacher and school nurse thought I had an insect that could burrow under my skin and cause a rash. SO GROSS. This teacher was not satisfied with my doctor note. She put my desk in the corner, instructed no one to touch me or talk to me, I was not allowed to go to recess. This went on for weeks before I told my mother who wrote her a note and the isolation abruptly stopped. But her treatment of me did not. I stayed in from recess often because I was so slow and stupid and didn’t do my times tables well enough. My handwriting was terrible and she criticized my cursive constantly. She never called on me, spoke to me like she did the other children and when it was obvious this fat pig of a girl named Missy was hitting me and bullying me, she made me sit next to her in class and changed my seating assignment so I could learn to get along with people better.
She was a monster. A monster that caused permanent scars on my psyche to this day and I still totally LOATHE her. She was horrible and was just another piece of a horrible year.
The next year I move and start another new elementary school. The guidance counselor there, prompted by my teachers, gives me an IQ test after I complete my standardized testing for 5th grade and score off the charts. The test she gives me in 5th grade stated that I read on a college sophomore level, possessed math skills of a 11th grader and science skills of a freshman in college. She was so excited and told my mother who literally said, “Well what do you want from me about it?” I was so pleased and proud and thought of my 4th grade teacher that bitch (or whatever I could have named her while being 11 years old) can fucking suck a bag of dirty dicks. I thought maybe I would be skipped a grade which would have been heaven because I had been bigger than everyone by 3rd grade and was about the size I am today in 5th grade. I was so excited that maybe I would be with older kids since everyone always mistook me for someone older. But no. My mom didn’t do anything about it. I stayed in 5th grade. My guidance counselor was so sweet and sad for me she hooked me up with the special ed teacher and I became her classroom helper and made bulletin boards for her, made dittos and helped in her classroom during my recess 3 days a week.
I wish my mom were still alive so I could tell her I saw Miss XXXXX and what a fucking bitch she was. I want to ask her why didn’t anything come of my testing? What was it for? What was she thinking? Why, what, where, when everything all over again damnit.
I will never have any answers because my hourglass ran out of sand. No flipping it back for a do-over. Boom, gone.
I am pleased with myself though because I did NOT tell her what a fucking bitch she was and how miserable she made me and it was the worst year of school I ever had which is saying a lot because I LOVED school. I was kind. I was polite. I kept it all in. I didn’t even secretly wish she would fall this winter and break her hip and spend a protracted amount of time recovering only to develop pneumonia and have to be placed on a vent unable to be weaned and transitioned to a trach when she would die of sepsis from a bed sore because KARMA is a bitch.