I can’t talk. I doubt that I can write. I wonder if this is what a panic attack feels like. If I ran on electricity and I was born twenty years earlier than I was, we would say that perhaps I blew a fuse. These days perhaps I am in search of that grey panel box where perhaps I can resuscitate by a flip of a switch.
I usually can wear the multiple layers of stress with fashion and aplomb. Today I can see that its lines are no longer flattering. In fact, the wear and tear of it all is starting to show. My throat is rough from the acidic taste of bile I swallow down, fearful of giving in to weakness. My daughter pats her cat’s back when she shows signs of coughing up a hairball. She says it calms her down and stops the disgusting part. I think I need someone to pat my back.
I know the taste of terror when you become the person that something happens to even though it is never supposed to happen to you. That’s how I felt when they told me my first daughter had a heart defect. That’s how I felt when she died. Tonight, when my second daughter’s friend’s father came to my door asking if I knew where our daughters were, I panicked. They were supposed to be at a neighbor’s house. They weren’t. They left to walk home against parental rules and without permission. That vile taste crept from stomach to throat. I dialed her cell number, as her friend’s father said his daughter didn’t have her phone. As the phone rang, I looked up to see her casually walking in the door.
I can’t talk. I can’t write. I can’t explain what it feels like to think you came inches away once again from being the person that nothing like this is supposed to happen to. Instead, I short circuit, shut down, turn and walk away. I wonder if I will ever be good at this. I wonder if it is finally time to call the electrician.