pay at the pump

This town is still too small because I ran into you again, four times now in as many years. Yesterday you were adjacent to me and my car at a gas pump. I had the nozzle in my hand when I realized it was you, and I have to admit it took some restraint to keep from pointing it at you, pulling the lever, dousing you in eighty nine octane.

You were filling up your quad cab super extra power stroking tow vehicle, still in your scrubs with your name embroidered on them. I eye-balled you under the sign that sat atop the pump advertising free sodas with a fill-up. Though you’re more bald than I, our hair is cut the same and from the shape of your head, your height and build, even the distance between your eyes one might mistake us for brothers. Maybe it was that thought that got me to turn the nozzle from you and fill my car with it instead. Or maybe I’m just a coward.

It wasn’t until five years after my son died when I discovered the blunt head trauma you caused him during a cephalic version. And the overdose of pitocin two days later when you induced his mama’s labor. Not one insult to escort this newborn into life, but two.

It wasn’t until that moment when I was able to make any sense of the look on your face when you delivered him after an emergency C-section. It wasn’t concern or compassion, it was oh-shit. Made perfect sense to me as I read my son’s medical file with the help of a neonatologist who was kind enough to point out to me the trauma to which you subjected my new little family.

God, that must cost a lot of money to fill up that enormous truck. You ought to get two free sodas for that. I’m only pumping ten bucks worth, all I can afford right now.

You didn’t kill my boy right away. It took almost nine years. What turned out to be a hazard of your profession turned into the peril of this young boy’s life and the depletion of the most inalienable right a parent could ever have, hope.

You diminished his capacity to breathe, eliminated his ability to eat or drink, cancelled his capacity to ambulate. But you didn’t touch his mind nor his heart, both of which experienced a quality of life his mom and me fought for every moment of the one hundred six months he was alive.

I wanted to tell you all this at the pump, while you filled your truck with fossil fuel. The energy it has taken to hate you for the last twelve years would have depleted me were it not for the arms of my little girl, wrapped around my shoulders as I write this, and for the love and compassion of so many others who are thankfully immune to the effects of your malpractice.

I wonder if I could ever forgive you and always will since you have no idea what you’ve done. I wonder if I’ll be able to tell you the next time I run into you in this town that’s still too small.

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2 Responses to pay at the pump

  1. Karen says:

    Wow. I was torn reading this. Compassion, understanding your anger, your hatred, (geez, I don’t think anger and hatred are strong enough words), you being torn to tell him your true thoughts and feelings and the other side saying, “You’re not worth the breath it would take.” Then I thought of how forgiveness can be healing. But dang, sometimes it’s so difficult. Injustice, an apathetic attitude, an attitude of “Hey, I’m sorry. Get over it.” I’ve been told that things happen for a reason. While reading this, I thought to my own life of having these feelings of anger and unforgiveness. My heart goes out to you. I’m glad you wrote this even if you didn’t verbally speak to the man at the pump.

  2. Dave Whipple says:

    I can only wish your heart to heal, but eons may not be long enough.

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