Part One.  Part Two.  Part Three.  Part Four. 

I was recently informed that my telling of this story is not 100% accurate.  Apparently my timeline is a bit off.  Rather than go back to edit I’m going to let TTO write his very own guest post telling his side of the story.  Look for that when I (finally) finish the serial.

So, where were we?  Oh right.  The family crisis.

I was working on a Friday night when I got a call from my dad. 

Big Daddy – Now don’t panic…

Me – (already panicking)

Big Daddy – but Alice is in the hospital.  We don’t think it’s serious, but she will probably be there for a few days.

Me – I’ll come right down after work.

Big Daddy – It will be really late by the time you get here and I don’t want you on the roads now anyway.  Just plan on coming down in the morning.

He was right.  The two hour drive would be made even longer with the dark, wintry roads.  But the idea of sitting in my apartment all night and not being able to do anything to help my family was beyond frustrating.  I called TTO when I was on my way back to the apartment.  He was going to be home that weekend and we’d made plans to get together.  I wanted to let him know that I might not be able to see him depending on what was happening with Alice.  I agreed to call him back when I knew more.  Then I called J.  He offered to come over and keep me company for awhile.  The second he walked in the door I knew it was a mistake. 

I don’t think he meant it intentionally, but everything he said to me that night came across as extremely insensitive.  I needed his support, not his judgement.  Instead of “worry about it when you get there tomorrow” I got “it’s not like she’s DYING or anything”.  Not exactly the best thing to say to someone who didn’t know exactly what her only sister’s health status might be.  I cut his visit short saying I needed to sleep so I’d be ready to leave early the next morning.  He offered to stay with me and even though I really didn’t want to be alone, I just couldn’t stand the thought of spending even five more minutes with him.

As parents are generally inclined to do, mine had kept the seriousness of Alice’s situation from me until I got to the hospital.  After a particularly rough bout with the flu she was so dehydrated that her kidneys were on the verge of shutting down.  If she hadn’t gotten to the doctor when she did things could have been much, much worse.  I spent the day pacing the hospital and trying to make phone calls with a very sketchy cell phone signal.  I got through to TTO and told him things were improving and my parents were making me leave for the night.  I was planning to spend the night in Hometown, would it be alright if I stopped by to see him?

It didn’t take long before I was curled into him and sobbing into his shoulder.  This went on for quite a while.  He didn’t say anything or try to stop me.  I got out everything I’d been feeling for the last 24 hours.  Anger, fear, sadness.  Needless to say, I was a complete mess.  But TTO didn’t flinch.  He was there, he was supportive without judgement and I could feel that he really cared.  We talked for a long time and I finally left with an agreement that I’d make the drive out to the wilds of South Dakota to visit him once everything with Alice was back to normal.

Alice made a full recovery and a few weeks later I was packing my bags for that trip.  I’d avoided J as much as possible since the night he made me angry instead of providing comfort.  By this time he knew about TTO and he knew that I was planning to go and visit.  There was a knock on the door and I was completely surprised to see him through the peephole.  He’d come to try and convince me not to go.  He played to my insecurities and made a lot of promises.  I was so, so close to calling TTO and canceling, but I was smart enough to listen to the little voice that said, “Go!”.

J said, “If you go, you can consider us done.”  Little did he know that I already did.