Thursday, January 17, 2008

Icebreaker

ice•break•er (noun) a ship specially built for breaking navigable passages through ice

The other night I stubbed my toe so hard that I almost threw up. I’m certain the neighbors heard me screaming. Little Chick was eager to be a hero (not to mention escape her homework) so she raced to the kitchen to find something in the freezer that would ease my pain. She returned not with a paper towel filled with icecubes, not a useful bag of frozen peas, but with a hard plastic carton of cookie dough that has been in our freezer since December of 2003.

Yet another causality of divorce neglect. The cookie dough was from a fundraiser at Little Chick’s preschool. My ex-husband handled the order forms and when the damn cookie dough finally arrived I was in such personal turmoil that delivering it to everyone was pretty low on my list. I just never got around to it and I still feel terrible. My freezer is like this evil little time machine. When I see that cookie dough I travel right back to that unhappy era and it chills me to the bone.

Every so often I still have moments where I just freeze up with guilt. Or anger. Like when I have to fill out a form that asks for a person to contact In Case of Emergency. I am continually stumped by this one. I don’t have a husband. My parents live in Tennessee. Can you just list a friend willy-nilly? Is there a protocol for that? Shouldn’t I ask them first, like you’d ask a trustee for your will or a godparent? Is it impolite to offer their name and phone number without their knowledge?

A few years ago I heard about this I.C.E. campaign (In Case of Emergency) that advises you to put an emergency contact number in your mobile phone under ‘ICE’ so first responders can notify them if necessary. This totally threw me for a loop. It’s such a great program but once again, whose number should I use? I still go back and forth. Some days I feel impenetrable and cheeky so I will scour the internet to find the phone number for Britney Spears’ law firm. They’ve got experience in a crisis, right? Or I will put in the number for Domino’s Pizza. I often turn to them when I am stressed and they are usually there in 30 minutes or less. Sometimes I feel like I am co-parenting with my ex pretty well so I will list him. But most of the time it’s my mother, although I feel guilty that her name comes up under ICE. Plus she doesn’t know how to check voicemails on her mobile phone.

You see my dilemma.

When I was first separated I was literally obsessed with this emergency contact problem. It really bothered me that there was no longer a designated person whose J-O-B was to be my very own I-C-E. I remember talking about it with my then-husband. We had just decided to get divorced a few days earlier and we were sort of navigating through some of the logistics in a weird, numb conversation. Nothing was getting solved, I’m pretty sure we were both in shock. The conversation ended abruptly when he suggested it was time to take off my wedding ring.

I felt like I had stubbed my toe so hard that I was about to vomit. My ring? I loved that ring. It was my own beautiful icy little diamond. Suddenly my heart had brain freeze while my brain was pounding against my skull with regular and violent palpitations.

I had to get out of there. I couldn’t handle any more of this so I decided to take Little Chick to a movie.

Thank God for movie theaters. When things got really, really bad, I could still look like a good mom by taking Little Chick to the latest kiddo flick, when really it was just a chance to sit in the dark and not speak to anyone. The Nanny Diaries 2 got the job done as I recall. I calmed down a little and Little Chick was blissfully entertained. After the movie we were debating whether or not to get some ice cream as I pulled out of the movie theater parking lot. That’s when a 16-year old first-time driver sped through a stop sign and nailed the side of our car. Hard.

It all happened in hideous slow motion. My Jeep spun around 180 degrees and then flipped. I was screaming Little Chick’s name frantically as we went over. I ended up with my face in a heap of broken glass which strangely looked like piles of beautiful crystals. I twisted my head around to see Little Chick dangling upside-down by her seat belt. She assured me she was okay but was completely freaked out because I was covered in blood.

The ‘first responders’ were some people getting ice cream nearby. We were extremely lucky that one was an off-duty police officer who carefully extracted Little Chick from the car. It took a little longer but eventually he was able to help me out of what was left of the back window. It was all so surreal. Sitting on a curb with total strangers. Looking at my topsy-turvy car, a wrangled mess. All my things spewed out across the pavement. I think I remember a nice woman giving Little Chick a stuffed animal. The police started to arrive. And people kept asking if they could call my husband.

I literally did not know what to say.

Did I have one? Technically he was still my husband. I still had a ring on my finger, although it was covered in blood. Should I tell them the truth? Should I tell them that I had no one to call. That my life was more of a topsy-turvy wrangled mess than that heap of metal sitting in the road.

Of course I pulled myself together and gave someone his number. And of course he showed up immediately and took us to the emergency room. The three of us went in there as a family, one of our last performances as a trio before the band broke up.

Amazingly, Little Chick walked away without a scratch. I was basically okay as well, all things considered. But I had cut my elbow pretty badly and my left arm was a mess. They picked out glass and asphalt. Everything seemed like it was going to be fine but then I sensed Doogie Howser and his entourage were having a little chit chat outside my curtain. Sure enough they needed to ‘discuss’ something with us. Apparently my hand was swollen quite badly and my ring was limiting circulation to my fingers. They needed to cut off my wedding ring.

My then-husband glanced at me quickly and then gave them the nod of approval to saw away. I don’t know why, but I falsely expected the emergency room to have some high-tech piece of laser machinery expressly designed to remove exquisite diamond jewelry with the utmost precision. Instead they returned with a crude, medieval device that looked like it came from the shelves of Home Depot. This couldn’t be happening. For heaven’s sake, we registered at Home Depot when we got engaged! I thought about how silly I must have looked as a young, sweet little bride-to-be, all dressed up to go register at Home Depot with my fiance. So how did we get here? In an emergency room with someone who looked about fifteen years old sawing the blood diamond off my inflated hand. I’m not even convinced the med student knew how to work the damn thing. It hurt! But he just grinded and grinded and grinded away until eventually he broke through that ice once and for all.

Lawyers were a mere formality after that.

But thank heavens for Time because it heals all wounds, right? Little Chick refused to go to that theater for quite awhile but eventually returned because she wanted to see Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and it was only playing at that theater at the specific time we needed to see it. So technically it was a Time Slot that healed that scar. For myself, I just try very hard not to think about that day.

But I stubbed my toe and Little Chick hurled that frozen tub of cookie dough back into my life. And it led me here. I have to say, this is the first blogpost that has me crying. Tears dripping into my keyboard as I type away. Drip, drip, drip. I feel like an ice sculpture that is finally starting to melt, long after the band has quit playing and long after all the wedding guests have gone home.

I suppose the façade of strength, much like pain itself, has to thaw out one layer at a time. I’m not exactly sure which layer I’m on in this game of emotional strip poker, but I am certain it’s time to clean out my freezer. Time to break through the ice and discover what might spring up in its place.


53 comments:

Nola (www.nolanotes.com) said...

What an incredible post! You aren't the only teary-eyed. How bizarre that things were so literal and so symbolic at the same time! Sometimes I think Life knows it can't be subtle and it needs to give you a good visual to get the BIG PICTURE. Having your wedding ring CUT OFF YOUR FINGER in the midst of what you were going through in your marriage, damn. Talk about your signs!

Glad Little Chick and you were okay from that accident. What a truly amazing story.

Loved the line about lawyers being a formality!

Thanks for sharing such a vulnerable part of your life.

Oh, and please throw that cookie dough away ASAP!!!

Angie said...

Ummm, Wow. I am rarely speechless. This post is poetic and beautiful and Freaky Weird. I am new to your blog, so didnt know much about your past. WOW! Time does heal. Timeslots are an acceptable substitute in the event of a slump. WoW!
KEEP BELIEVING

piper of love said...

I'm crying too. I'm so proud of you for going there, in your blog. I'm personally amazed at how much strength that has come from putting words onto a post, and braving it.

It's going to keep happening for you, don't fight it. Go! There is healing in this somehow.

Excellent post. I'm remembering moments from my own surreal divorce days. I wish I had the nerve to write about them like this, but you've inspired me. There's no shame in what you've survived, no shame in the pain, or confusion, or all the endless unanswerable questions. That's directed at me too, babe.

Poignant, and profound. Good for you!! ~xo

Olga, the Traveling Bra said...

OMG...what a story! I hope getting out on paper, well sort of, helped. Writing is so theraputic...and you did an EXCELLENT job! {{HUGS!}}
PS: I have a couple of ancient tubs of cookie dough in my freezer too!...that stuff will live forEVER!

Dan Leone said...

Please send all cookie dough to me, c/o dan leone.

But more seriously, what a stunningly beautiful post. I am so happy that you shared this with us.

Thank you

BusyDad said...

That was simply amazing, CF. What a story - I loved how you artfully weaved everything in from the literal to the symbolic. I'm gonna go read this again. Thanks for sharing this deeply personal episode with us. I'm sure it was therapeutic for you too. I have an amazingly symbolic story about a wedding ring too, but my wife won't let me share it on my blog, despite repeated attempts to bribe her. Maybe I'll tell you sometime.

Kimmylyn said...

Your post is amazing. Exactly like you. I am crying in my office holding my heart that now has an ache in it from reading this wonderful post. An ache in a good way because you are able to sit and share with us something so personal and raw and yet show just how strong you really are.

Beautiful.

Don Mills Diva said...

This is one of the most incredible posts I have read. So poetic and poignant. And brave. Thank you.

Judith Shakespeare said...

I think that this is one of the most poignant posts that I've read on a blog in a really long time. An incredible and heart-aching journey... Now, could you do me a favor and throw away all of that cookie dough?

Bird On A Wire said...

Thanks! You're continuing to be an awsome inspiration

lizzie said...

This was an amazing post - It was gut wrenching for me to read. You are strong and articulate and hopefully writing about these events becomes healing for you. So much of what you have written here resonates with me - the aftermath of a car accident, feeling shock and feeling alone. Sending lots of warming wishes your way too.
Best-
Lizzie

Rachel said...

Damn woman. This was amazing.
Your writing is so powerful and the imagery is just stunning. My heart aches for you and my eyes are streaming.
This was absolutely heartwrenching and yet somehow inspiring all at the same time. I hurt for what you went through and are still going through and yet I'm amazed at your strength, what a terrific role model you are for Little Chick.
I'm so glad y'all are okay, but da-yum!
Was it chocolate chip cookie dough? If so...she's such a woman, chocolate makes all things better :-)
Absolutely phenomenal post.

Getty72 said...

There is one thing that makes this blogging world so magical, and that being it brings people from all around the world together.

I have just finished reading your post which, like the other readers have so perfectly written, is one of the most emotional and inspiring posts that I have ever read. I openly admit that I have tears rolling dowm my face as I type.

To write from the heart in the way that you have done here, is such a difficult thing to do. You should be truly proud of yourself.

I too am so glad that you were both okay after the accident.

Warmest regards and a big hug from me!!

Graham :)

Nissa said...

Oh my.. what a beautiful, beautifully heartbreaking story. I've never heard anything like it. The symbolism tied with reality. Great post, although I'm sure it was difficult to write. Thank you for sharing it.

Momo Fali said...

Now wait just a gosh darn minute. You mean that during this time...this horrible, emotional-upheaval, nightmarish time...you didn't EAT the cookie dough? You are a strong woman.

Stronger than I could ever be...in many, many ways.

Pinky said...

Hi there. I just found your blog from KEEP BELIEVING. We have a lot of blog friends in common. You are brave to share such a deep and personal story here, and I admire you for that. You're obviously a strong woman! I'm so glad that you and Little Chick were not injured badly in the wreck, and I hope that you continue to let your blog be a source of healing.
I know that mine is.
Much love,
Pinky
www.cheeseinmyshoe.blogspot.com

Tara R. said...

Wow... such a poignant story. It does sound like there's a happy ending in there somewhere.

"Pete" said...

You are so such a better blogger than I.

secret agent mama said...

Wow, this post was very moving and poignant. I'm so glad you wrote it, and shared some of your layers with us.

trout underground said...

That is some excellent shit. Truly.

corme said...

I am new to this blogging thing. I don't know to many people on here yet. I found your blog on pinky's blog when you posted a comment.
I am very sorry to hear about your accident. I am glad that you and little chick were able to come away from it without to much harm. I have never been in a car accident but have seen some reall bad ones when I have been pregnant. I have always told myself. That if someone ever hits my car with my kids in it and one of them gets hurt really bad or dies the person better be praying for...And I will leave it at that.
And I am sorry to hear about your divorce. My cousin has a 4 year old little girl and she is in the middle of a divorce as well. I know she feels like you. Beside me here she doesn't have any family here. Her dad and brothers live in Minnesota. I pray that God will see you through these hard times.
Thank you for blogging about your life. I know that your struggles with help other people in the same place know they are not alone.
mommyof5bbbgb

Chuck said...

OK, that post was in a whole different class - I'll be reading this one again.

Chas - blog hoppin'

Todd said...

Well I will offer you a virtual drink and virtual Pizza, Chicago Style... What a post...

Stopping in, saying hi and doing a little blog hopping...

Karen MEG said...

Just popped in, doing some blog hopping and was just blown away by your beautiful, heartwrenching post. I'm so glad that you and Little Chick have healed, at least physically, and emotionally you've been through a major wringer from which it appears you are surviving beautifully. Thanks for sharing such a personal, heartfelt story with us.
--Pomtini

Darrin said...

Wow, what a deep and moving post. Talk about some eerie parallel's. You just can't make stuff up like that. Sounds like you've come to terms with a lot of things recently, and I just know that 2008 is going to be an awesome year for you! Hang in there girlie!
Cheers!

Darrin, aka "Make Shift Sinatra" from the Weekend BlogHopper crew

Maureen said...

Holy crap... what an amazing post... wonderful writing. I am so sorry you had to go through it, but thank you for sharing it. I hope it helps you, and perhaps others who read it as well. Take care, and hope your foot is better!

Maureen
Blog hopper

cablegirl said...

What an incredible post!!! You had me riveted the entire way through. What a scary experience and the dramatic symbolism. You just couldn't make that sort of thing up.

Thank you for sharing such personal and emotional piece of your history.

I got her Weekend Blog Hopping and I'm really glad I stopped through.

Throw out that cookie dough!

canape said...

Dang, woman. That was flat out amazing.

You had me at describing that feeling of shame with the cookie dough. God, I hate that feeling and know it all too well.

Maybe I just haven't found them yet, but there don't seem to be too many of us who write openly about divorce. Thank you for being open about it.

Jeff said...

Wow, I just stopped by to make a toast to Blog Hoppers, but ended up with much more. Great post.

Tot's Mom said...

Writing about it is theraupetic in itself, I hope. Be brave and strong, and you'll be able to clean out that freezer at some point. :)

suchsimplepleasures said...

that was an amazingly heartfelt post!! i've been there...divorce. it's quite a rollercoaster ride!!
i don't know what to say except...i loved this post! and...i hope your life is headed in the direction of your choosing!!

ender said...

what an absolutely eloquent and heart-felt post. i'm awed at your story-telling skills particularly for an issues which will always be at least somewhat raw. amazing post

FUN-ky Mama said...

You are a beautiful writer. This was an amazing post/story. I have SO been there. And I remember I kept thinking, when does it END? Is this normal that I'm still feeling this way? It seemed like most other people I knew didn't grieve for so long.
It ended though...I hope it ends for you too.

juan said...

We can't say this enough....very poetic and poignant. You are a brave woman, just like all the women in my life (mother, wife and daughter). My mother was a single parent, she is a hero in my eyes.

MelissaQ said...

WOW! Your story moved me! You have an awesome way of painting pictures for us to see your story. Im so sorry you had to go through such a hard time. I'm sorry for your daughter too. As long as she has a mom as strong as you she is already a step ahead. I dont know what else to say, every one else has said everything for me. Its funny though, I came to your blog looking for something to Cheer me up, I guess today was just not my day. If you and your readers have time, please come by my blog and Read about a 4 year old boy from Ft. Worth TX, who died of brain cancer. He and his family need our prayers.
Thank you and all your visitors in advance.

Sarcastic Mom (aka Lotus) said...

Oh honey. What a great piece. You have me bawling for you. Keep turning your face to the sun so that those layers can melt away.

You wrote this so eloquently.

Amy said...

Amazing post! I've been through a divorce too and this just touched me deeply. You seem to be an amazing woman and mother and I am so glad to have read this. Thank you for sharing.

The Bombed Mom
blog hoppin'

Alabama Slammer said...

Wow. Here via blog hopping, but with this one post I'm subscribing. Fabulous post, seriously.

TZT said...

That post was just stunning. Completely stunning, brave and beautiful.

Honeybell said...

Speechless. Thanks for sharing yourself.

Sleeping Mommy said...

An amazing, well-written, raw and honest post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Mommin' It Up! said...

Wow. That was just beautiful. Nothing else I can say.

Dan said...

That was a wonderful peice of writing. Thank you for sahring it.

The Sports Mama said...

I just found you, and have decided that I'm never leaving.

So, allow me to introduce myself....

Hi, I'm the Sports Mama. And I'll be your new stalker. :)

boogie on vino said...

Wow, I found your through bloghopping, and you have me bawling. Send huge hugs and an "I love you, girl..." your way.

Miss said...

Wow... that was just... wow. Thank you for sharing that.

Jennifer said...

Hugs

Woman on the verge said...

I wish I had such a sign. We're still having the discussion and getting nowhere.

Peace to you in your future.

Jessica said...

Let me get up from my chair...

::APPLAUSE::

Now that I'm sitting back down... That was amazing. You are a fine writer and really have a wonderful way of getting us all to feel your emotion...

Well done.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Came here from Canape and the perfect posts. Never was one more deserved.

I'm subscribing to you right now. I need more bravery in my life, and you, lady, are courageous, indeed.

useless_rambler said...

Wow! Here from Canape, as well.

You, my dear, are simply amazing. I've been there and I could only wish to convey those feelings as you have here.

You had me at, "The other night..."

Thank you.

Queen of Shake-Shake said...

What a powerful post.

I don't know what else to say...I'm at a loss for words.

Great writing.

S.B. said...

I am not sure what link I clicked to get here, but I am glad I did.
This is so wonderfully written, I breathed it in in one go. Thank you for sharing.