I have been wanting-no-needing to write this post for some time, and even now, I am not sure i am ready. I am not sure that I can write with the soul-baring words required to make anyone understand my feelings. This would be the biggest regret that i have in my life. It would be the biggest mistake I feel I have ever made. It is the one thing that haunts me...still. Every day.
After the separation of my first husband and myself, my children were in shock. I was in shock. I don't really understand my reaction now, looking back, but I honestly, seriously---never thought that he and i would split. Once we had, I began to understand that it had to be forever, that I couldn't live that way any more. Constant worry for me, constant walking on eggshells, constantly afraid that he would become "upset" and then life would become hard and sad, once again. But i really didn't understand or even know this while we were together. I had become so busy trying to hold him and everything else together that I hadn't the time to figure it all out.
By now, we had been split for several months, and finally, the divorce was final. He was crazy, seriously, but even that had begun to improve. He seemed to be coming back around and i felt it was okay to let my kids spend time with him again...they needed to do that. I also needed them to, as I was really having trouble trying to be the only financial support, and i was really into having a good time. I was trying to keep all things together---my house was a home, at least it looked like one. I tried to keep food in the refrigerator, and I tried to keep my three kids happy---a daughter, fourteen---a son, nine---another son, eight. While I worked, they stayed home with the oldest most of the time....it was hard on them, and i was having some trouble with my daughter, she was really ugly to her brothers, but frankly, I had little choice. Alot of that time was a blur, from one problem to another, not enough money, bad boyfriend choices in myself and my daughter, work problems...hassles with the ex. I felt at that time that i was doing the very best i could do, and it was never, ever good enough. I was all tied up in "love" with a much older man...one that made me completely crazy, 100% of the time. I could never get it right, and yet, I kept trying. Why??? I have zero idea, even today. I just knew that if I could hold that relationship together, then all things would be okay. I also knew, deep in my heart that I wasn't taking care of the most important things at least not the way I should---my kids. I justified it with feelings that I had a right to my own life, you know all the excuses. I felt that it was not my fault that life had been turned completely upside down...and that somehow made my behavior excusable.
It was getting close to Christmas, and i was trying to provide a decent one, at least for all appearances. I had actually been spending more down time with my kids, as my relationship was now apparently "over", for the six millionth time in that 18 month period. We went out a got a Christmas tree, and it looked beautiful. It was a real tree, the best I could afford, and i was trying so hard financially. It was a constant source of contention because we also had a cat. And the cat really LOVED that tree. So, I made it known that the cat and the tree could not be together. And of course, my daughter, D---didn't listen to me. She had other things to worry about at that time in her life, and watching her brothers and the cat were not that high priority on her list. As would be the case with any fourteen year old...anyway, I came home and the cat had knocked the Christmas tree all the way over. And I freaked out. Really freaked out. All things came crashing down on me in that moment, and I lost control. I screamed, I yelled,I threw a fit. I made all of my kids cry. When I look back at the monster I was that day, I am so ashamed. I was awful. It is hard for me to remember my behavior. I seriously do not remember the exact sequence of things after that point, but i believe that it was in the afternoon that this happened, and i realized late in the evening that i had not seen D for awhile...she was, as usual...in her room. I went up to see what was up, and maybe to apologize, I really don't know.
When I walked in, i knew something was wrong...she was asleep, I could not get her awake. She barely could talk, but managed to tell me she had taken an entire bottle of Tylenol-at least a hundred pills! I died a thousand deaths in that moment. I ran downstairs, called 911, and of course, we were in the middle of the worst ice storm in many years, and we lived in the middle of nowhere, in a rented farm house. There was some question as to whether the ambulance could get here. They promised to try. I got her up, i walked her around, I cried, I freaked out, I called a girl that lived in town to come and stay with the boys so that i could get her to the hospital. I opened the door, and realized I would not be able to even walk to the car, it was so icy. I was amazed that we still had power. I prayed. I told God that if this problem, that was all my fault, could be worked out, that i would be the best mother to these kids ever. I swore on the lives of all my children and my own family. I told God that this was my fault, that He should not make D pay. It took forever for help to arrive. But they did. And she was completely gone when they got there---by gone, I mean passed out....unable to walk, function....or talk at all. It had been at least six hours since she had taken the pills. That was a long time, and i knew that meant trouble.
The ambulance wouldn't allow me to ride along---besides, my friend had not yet arrived, and the boys were asleep in bed, and I did not want them to see all that had happened. Within minutes, my friend arrived, a miracle in itself, as the weather was impossible. I had to get to the hospital...it was eight miles away. I could not get the ice scraped of of my windshield, and it was still coming down in sheets...you know the kind of watery, melty, immediately slippery ice, falling from the sky. There must have been a solid inch of it on the sidewalk, the steps, my car. I beat on the door long enough to get the passenger side open and crawled over to the driver side. I couldn't see a thing---but miraculously, my driver side window opened. I backed out of the driveway, on to the gravel road that we lived on. I took the longer way because there were less hills that way, although I couldn't avoid them completely. I drove the whole way with my head and shoulders out of the drivers side window. I had ice coating my eyeballs, and I tried driving with my sunglasses on (I didn't wear glasses yet). That worked for a little while, but they quickly coated over, too. I slid into the ditch three times on the way. Three times I made it back out. It took more that 45 minutes to go that eight miles. I was scared to death to walk into that hospital, I was afraid she would be dead. But I did---and she was still hanging on. They wouldn't let me in to see her, they were still quite busy with her. I hung out in the emergency waiting room and watched in horror as a well known man in town died from electrocution, he had been trying to get the power back on ---clearing ice from the transformer....and i listened to his family--his wife---scream and cry. I just sat there and shook. I was all alone, I had called the kids dad, but he wasn't able to get there because of the ice storm, and my mother and sister seemed rather concerned, but didn't offer to try and come, and there was no way I was going to ask. Eventually, they let me in to see her, they had pumped her stomach and felt that she would survive, if they could get the antidote that would help the liver damage. There was a short period of time that it would help and of course, the medication was in Iowa City and wouldn't get there until the storm subsided. The doctor said that her chances would be considerably better once she had it. She was barely coherent, and i sat with her all night. And prayed. And cried. And asked God to forgive me, for the terrible mother I had been. The antidote was to arrive early, as the weather had cleared. In the morning, I had to go home to get the boys off to daycare so that i could get back to the hospital. My friend had to get home to her own kids. As soon as I walked into my house, the phone rang and it was D's doctor---the actual doctor---on the phone. Things had taken a turn for the worse, they thought that she had had a stroke and had requested an air ambulance for her to be transferred to Des Moines. He told me to hurry if I wanted to see her.I knew what he meant...he meant if I wanted to see her alive... I thought i had no more tears left in me. But I was wrong---and i cried and drove like a maniac back to the hospital, thank god the ice had stopped and the roads were now passable. I ran---literally RAN---into the icu, and the dr met me at her door. He said that it had been a mistake, that they had given her medication for nausea, compazine, and that she had had a reaction to it. Once they figured that out, they knew what to do. I collapsed at that point, literally, i had no legs under me. I cried, and I don't think she knew what had transpired, because she looked at me like i was crazy, but i grabbed her, and hung on.The medication she needed so badly arrived, and how she hated it, but it did save her liver. And they saved her life. She was in the ICU for a few days, then I had her transferred to an adolescent mental facility for her to get the help she needed, and for me to get my head on straight before she came home. We had a very rocky relationship, and had for quite some time. But I knew I was going to save her, no matter what it took.
And all things were not rosy with she and i after that, it took a long time, and alot of help, help that involved living with a foster family in town for a few months, a good but strict family, and suddenly, i didn't look like a monster to her anymore. And I grew up. Actually, I grew up the night that happened, December 6th, 1994. That was the last of any little bit of youth left in me, i knew what my priorities were, and they never faltered from that point on. Never. I was never going to be responsible for any more drama in my kids lives. She was only being the kid she was, and I was not there for her to prevent what could have been the very end of her. I still cannot forgive myself and I probably never will. I would give anything to take that period of my life back and change it. I do realize however, that cannot be. So, I have learned from my mistakes. And i have been the very best mom I know how. And i will continue to be. I love you, D. I'm sorry.