Bring Back Summertime
Jeanne Starr Gater    

I sat there on the side of the bed trying hard to understand the lady on the other end of the phone. "Do you have someone to bring you to the hospital?" My head was clogged and my entire body still cloaked with fever. Perhaps I was still dreaming. I wasn't quite over the flu. I had been moving books all day the day before to the basement, breaking down bedrooms, trying to get a new upstairs guest bedroom in order. Despite admonitions from my nineteen-year old son, Robert, that I should be in bed nursing my cold, I couldn't stop moving the books. When Julius came home, I asked him to move the red leather couch to the basement. He said he had to go jogging first. He was in the best of health and was jogging up to 14 miles a day now. But I look at the side of the bed and he's not there. He actually is not coming home this morning or tomorrow morning. He's in the hospital. They say he's suffered injuries from an automobile accident--they can't tell me how severe. "Do you have someone to bring you to the hospital? I heard again .... "Robert, Julius has been in a car accident. He's in Beaumont Hospital on 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak. Please pick up Mimi for me from gymnastics, while I get ready and then we'll all go to the hospital together. Instead of a somewhat rational reaction, Robert started screaming, ran out of the house and was at the hospital long before I got there. But still I can't panic--I have to pick up Mimi. I threw on some pants, washed up quickly, and blindly headed for the "Y" to pick up Mimi. I told myself over and over again: "It's all right, it's all right!' Thirteen Mile East in Royal Oak. The "Y was right near 13 Mile Road so perhaps 13 Mile Road will go through all the way to Royal Oak. It dawned on me that I didn't even know how to get to the hospital. A few blocks from the "Y", after I had picked up Mimi, I approached the intersection of 13 Mile and Orchard Lake Road. All I could think was, "Julius, I love you and God, dear God, please let everything be all right." As Mimi and I sat there waiting for the police clearing the intersection to give us the go-ahead signal, I told her, "Mimi, this may be where your father had his accident" Those scornful words bore reality as I looked up and the picture before me tore me apart. The Colt, our little pony, was on a tow truck in a gas station across the intersection, smashed, wrecked, twisted almost beyond recognition. As I pointed the car out to Mimi, we both began screaming and crying and I quickly rolled my window down to yell at the policeman that "My husband, my husband was in that accident and that's his car over there---you've got to let me through!" He looked at me in slow motion and said, "Are you Mrs. Gater?" I said hysterically, "Yes, yes, please let me through!" He directed me through the intersection. Still crying, I wondered why the traffic was moving so slowly, why the lights were taking so long to change. I reminded myself that I had to pay attention to the lights and get to the hospital safely. I wondered why it was taking me so long to get there. If it was taking me so long to get there, how could he still be alive? His car was smashed so terribly ... like an accordion. As I continued to drive for the next endless twenty minutes, I told myself that it couldn't have been that bad, I just imagined the car was so terribly wrecked. If it had been smashed that badly, they would have never gotten him out of the car. I breathed a sign of relief. He's at the hospital and he's all right. But my God in heaven how? How did he get hit by a car and a truck and so early on a Saturday morning So early that witnesses to the accident said there was hardly any traffic out. No reason for the accident to happen. Not on a highway. A clear day. As I watched him now struggling for his life, I asked myself, I told myself, that it must have been meant to be. But Dear God, these things don't happen in real life and not to good people ... and Julius and I considered ourselves "good people." Dear God, the doctors really aren't telling me this. What a terrible dream, someone please help me wake up! "Admissions procedures were over. I've been at the hospital now for over a half hour and no one has really told me anything. Robert and Mimi and I are in the waiting room. We don't know what's going on. The suspense alone is almost intolerable. I walk into the hallway to get some water. A young blonde white doctor in his early thirties approaches me. "Are you Mrs. Gater?" he asks." "Yes, yes." "Well, let's find a room where you can sit down." As we walk briskly, I'm concerned, he knows I'm concerned --why doesn't he tell me something, something?? "I'm Dr. Tigel.: "Yes, Dr. Tigel, how is my husband?" "Not so good I'm afraid. Let's go in here." "Not so good" ... rings in my head. My legs nearly go out beneath me, but again this doesn't happen in real life and I'm not easily upset. Not just by some simple words: "not so good." "Sit down Mrs. Gater." Your husband suffered some very nasty injuries and also a stroke. We're trying to piece it all together." "But you say not so good?" I'm thinking I'm still very much in control, I'm not, I refuse to fall apart. I'm thinking ... injuries, bad injuries, a stroke. "What are his chances? What are his chances for survival?" "I'm afraid less than fifty percent." "Doctor, please, I don't care what you have to tell me. I don't want to hear anymore. I just want to see him, and I want to see him now!" "Mrs. Gater, before you go into the emergency room I want to warn you, you're not going to see a very pretty picture." "I don't care, I want to see him now, please."