If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day when nobody died
--If Everyone Cared, Nickelback
Again, sorry for such neglect. The exhaustion has set in more than ever, although the pint of blood I have lost the past week has probably contributed to that. We received the good news - or perhaps bad news - that everything is completely normal. I still have the results of my Lamictal levels and my halter test tomorrow left. The two-hour glucose results came in today as perfectly normal.
Yesterday was a rough day. Sunday mornings are our busiest time. Everyone lets out of church and comes to our restaurant for our famous breakfast. Luckily my favorite manager (MFM) and second-favorite manager worked, because it is stressful enough without the manager I most dislike.
While I was changing our sign that displays our features, MFM looked at me and said, "You're tired." It was said as a statement of fact, and I tried to grin at her and appear more awake, but she was unconvinced. "What makes you say that?" I asked her. "Your eyes, the way you talk, your facial expressions. I dunno - maybe other people can't tell, but I know you and I can tell." I knew there was no point in contradicting. I can't lie to her - not only am I a poor liar, and not only is she a read-in-five-seconds person, but she knows me better than almost any person in my daily life. I knew my words were slurring and my face in a permanently immobilized expression. I stumbled around the dining room and my hands trembled as I took money, fingers fumbling and dropping change everywhere.
As the morning went on, I began to have moments of dizziness and fatigue, and returned to the kitchen to rehydrate or sit in the break room for a bit. After a while I finally said to my hostess friend (the one who stood up for me yesterday), "I don't feel well. I'm going to sit in the break room for a bit." And then requested she not tell MFM. "I don't want her to worry." Not to mention she was too busy to need any distractions.
MFM spotted me in the break room and popped her head in and asked if I was OK. I said yes and she immediately left with an angry look on her face. Figuring she was irritated that I'd abandoned the floor, I picked myself up and returned. I found her near the registers and said, "I just needed to sit down for a bit and get a drink." She said nothing. Within a few moments, while standing at the podium, the world became distorted and rolled around, and I said to someone standing nearby - I have no idea who it was - "I don't feel well. I need to sit in the break room for a bit."
I passed MFM at the registers again and, not even bothering to lie to her, said, "I don't feel well, I'm going to sit down for a bit."
"OK," she said.
Her one-word answers and cutting manner unsettled me. She is normally so kind and warm that I felt like I was going to cry. I swallowed and went to the break room. My friend popped in and asked how I was, and I told her exactly as I felt. "I feel like I'm going to cry." "Cry if you need to, man," she said bluntly. I later learned that she told MFM that I felt sick, and that she could let me go home as soon as we slowed down.
A waitress showed up and asked how I was, and I told her. Soon the daughter of the general manager - also a waitress - joined us in the closet-sized break room with wide eyes and an expression of worry. She has had me sit and sip orange juice before, but somehow there was more real concern on her face. "I don't know what's wrong with me, I just don't know. Something's wrong and I don't know what it is." Even as I type this I feel so selfish for drawing so much attention to myself. It's so embarrassing and frustrating, but I have to write about it.
MFM came by again, said, "OK, group, we switched the chart, check your sections." Looking at me dead in the eye, she said, "You are white. Go home." Trembling and choking down my tears, I grabbed my water bottle, stood and straightened myself, exiting the break room. She remained there and said, "Hey!" I turned to her and saw her arms held out for her customary hug. Taken aback, I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed her more tightly than ever as my face scrunched and I broke down. I think she felt my silent crying, because her embrace became more comforting, and the two waitresses rubbed my back gently. After a moment we broke apart and returned to the break room by ourselves. We sat down face to face, and she locked eye contact. In spite of all the madness around us, which she was in charge of, she wanted to listen and take a moment just with me. The sapphire orbs of vision - beyond the external - were focused solely on me, and my own blue eyes.
I apologized for breaking down. "It's OK, you're allowed," she said. I poured out all of my worries, frustrations, and questions. Absolutely everything. In those five minutes away from the rest of the world, somehow a weight was lifted, and a wound healed. The way I can describe the experience is visual - in the sixth Harry Potter film, Draco Malfoy is sliced open down the front, collapses on the bathroom floor, and his blood pours out mixing with the water spilled by shattered pipes; Snape appears and begins reciting an incantation, and Draco's blood begins withdrawing from the flooded bathroom floor and his midsection slowly comes back together, healing. She offerred her opinions and questions, and the simple act of sitting down and caring made all the difference in the world.
To be honest, I think if someone had shown this much genuine care and concern earlier, I would be healed so much faster. At least, it would be more bearable and I would be stronger for it. It isn't that other people haven't checked on me every day, offerred help, and worried, reminding me "take care of yourself," but there was a way that she took me so seriously in the midst of all the madness and accepted everything without a trace of judgement, that I felt safe and as if nothing in the world could harm me - like when an adult shows up after a nightmare when you're a little kid. It reminded me the way I feel in the Confessional when the Priest says the words "I absolve you of your sins" after the end of a gut-spilling Confession. Grave peril isn't an object. Evil can't penetrate some invisible barrier.
She spoke about me with the general manager's daughter a few moments before she appeared in the break room. "I'm worried about her. She's stumbling on words and slurring her speech. She's a very articulate girl and she just can't find words, and it scares the hell out of me."
"How did you know? I was so careful not to let them slur in front of you." Although, I realized, I couldn't really hide it. "I don't know where you get these ears!"
"I notice everything, dear."
She thought of things no one else has, and held her gaze steady even when I looked away. In the end she said to me, "Go home, and get some rest tonight. Take care of yourself."
We hugged one last time before she darted to give some servers print-offs and take charge of the world. She walked me to the micros machine to clock me out and I drove home. Still dazed, still dizzy, still exhausted. Yet somehow I felt healthier. Some life returned to my body, and the sun seemed more brilliant. Part of me wonders how much of this illness could be cured if loneliness was gone. And if someone would have held me in their arms and let me come undone - so safely - so much earlier. I didn't realize how lonely and isolated I've been.
Some of my favorite song lyrics of all time are "In the end, only kindness matters," sung in 'Hands' by Jewel. Actually, the song 'If Everyone Cared' by Nickelback sums up how I felt. I am playing it as I write this. Again, people around me care, but there was some kind of magical touch involved yesterday. Some kind of healing took place - perhaps not physically, but certainly emotionally, which is half the battle.