Fourteen years ago today, my childhood friend died from injuries sustained in an accident. He was 16 years old and had been coming home from football practice with a friend. He was the passenger and had his head resting slightly out the window to get some air, as he did not feel well. As fate would have it, a groundhog ran in front of the car, the driver swerved to miss it and at that very moment, they were passing a large mailbox. My friend’s head hit that mailbox and the resulting injuries proved fatal.
His name was Nate.
He was one year and twenty-one days younger than me. We lived two doors down from each other and spent many, many days playing together. We went sled riding in the winter and swimming in the summer. When we went to school, we waited and played at the bus stop together. We were buddies.
I remember the year he and his brothers got a Nintendo for Christmas. I went over to their house the day after and they were still sleeping,. Their step-dad let me come in and I played their new Nintendo — the game I was playing was 1942, if I recall — until they woke up.
We grew apart as time went on, as I went to a private school and he went to public. But we were always neighbors, always friends.
I will never forget the day of the accident. It was September 4th, and I was home from my freshman year of college for the Labor Day weekend. I was in the garage, with the door open, with my step-father as we were working on my car. A police car came down the hill.
The policeman went to Nate’s house, but there was no answer. The officer came over to my step-father and me. He gave us his card and said when our neighbors got home, to please have them call him right away.
Nate’s mom came home, and we gave her the info. A little while later, she came out to tell us that Nate was in an accident, they didn’t give her any information, and that she just prayed he was alive. And then she left.
I had to go back to college that day, and was stuck there with no car and no idea what was happening to my friend. Our dorm’s resident assistant had a car and took me to the hospital the next afternoon. I am forever grateful to her for doing so — she was two years my senior and barely knew me as we’d only been in school for a week.
I got to the hospital and saw D, Nate’s older brother, as he was getting off of the elevator. He had just arrived from West Pointe, where he was in his sophomore year. I hugged D and then went to the waiting area where Nate’s friends were. It was there that we learned he was gone.
I’ll never forget my buddy and I regret that we had grown apart as we grew older, but I suppose that is to be expected. I loved his family dearly and even though they eventually moved away, I still hold them dear to my heart as they were all such a huge part of my childhood. They are a wonderful family.
That is the goodbye part of this post. Goodbye, dear Nate. I think of you often and hope that you are at peace. My youngest son is named in memory of you, and I hope that you know how much you meant to me.
A little over seven years after the loss of my friend, I was pregnant with Calista. She was due September 23rd. Everyone told me first babies never come on their due date. If anything, first babies are late. They laughed at me when I said she would be born on September 5th. I even put September 5th as my vote on my office “baby pool” — the earliest guess by a good week and a half.
We had no reason to believe she’d come early. But at one in the morning, on September 5th, I woke to use the bathroom and as I stood to finish, I felt a warm stream down my leg. It was tinged with blood and I knew my water had broken.
We got to the hospital about 2:30 am, and I was only 3 cm dilated, but because I was contracting and because my water had broken, they admitted me.
Skip and I walked the halls for hours, and the contractions got worse. Around 6 am is when I think I got into the bed as it was getting intense. We called the nurse around then to check on me, as well as our doula (whom I didn’t want to call earlier so as not to bother her).
7 am is when our doula arrived, and things were getting a little intense. I didn’t want an epidural (not to be some sort of hero, it’s just that a huge needle going into my spinal column is a heck of a lot scarier to me than dealing with the pain of childbirth), so they gave me a half dose of fentanyl which took the edge off and made me a little loopy if anything.
I remember calling the nurse back to check me around 9 am and being pretty peeved when she said I was only 8 cm. I thought for sure I was ready! The fentanyl was wearing off.
It wasn’t until 10 am that I was ready to push, and me being the rookie childbirther that I was, I couldn’t figure it out and pushed for two hours before she FINALLY started to crown. My OB had been on a fishing trip in Alaska, and just got back that morning. He was just walking in, chatting with Skip about his trip and scrubbing up. I was told to not push at this point, so my OB could get ready. Are you KIDDING ME? Two hours of trying to push that kid out with no pain relief and now I have to wait? Ha!
She was “compound” when she emerged, meaning she had her hand up to her face. Makes for some fine birthing fun, let me tell you! Her arm was crossed over and her hand was on her opposite cheek. Her hand was practically the first part of her to emerge.
She was born at exactly noon on September 5th, 2003. Two and a half weeks early, on the eight-year anniversary of my friend’s passing. I like to think it was a sign of some sort. A sign that he’s ok, and that life goes on.
My sweet baby girl is six years old today. I can hardly believe it.
Happy Birthday, baby girl!