Yesterday was a regular ol' Friday. It was The Fox's last day - he gave me a huge hug goodbye and I managed only to get slightly teary. A huge deal for me, since the last time one of my esteemed team members left I cried every day for a week. Then, on to the wing place where we had some wings and beer before I had to go visit Bobby, My Fabulously Gay Hairdresser Slash Therapist. Gawd, my hair was like 10,000 types of hideous and I was just dying for him to not only work some magic but also laugh my ass off. His family is just about drama-filled as my in-laws. Oh, and I guess at this point as my family is too.
I finished up and as I was driving over to Sephora to try and exchange a bottle of lotion, I went to call Joey and noticed I had an ungodly amount of missed calls and voice mails. Since it's coming up on a year since my dad's illness, I've kind of been having a few moments of anxiousness and feeling like the other shoe's about to drop. I started scrolling through the missed calls - okay, one was from Mer which we usually talk on Friday afternoons so that wasn't a shock. One from my sister, no message. But three missed calls from Cat Door.
My heart stood still. Wasn't Cat Door supposed to be in Wisconsin with his dad at some BMW motorcycle rally? Why was he calling? So I checked my voice mails - all three from him. Starting out like "Hey, it's Mike. *click*" and then the third one sounding very shaky and desperate, "Hey, it's me again, like, are you free, I need to talk to you really bad, please please please call me back." My head started racing - as I told Mer this morning, it was so atypical for Cat Door to call like that that I knew something serious was wrong. So I called back, and he asked if he could meet me at the Starbucks up the road from our houses to talk.
He was waiting for me when I got there - and looked like sheer hell. I bet he hadn't slept in days, probably hadn't shaved in a few either. He immediately teared up when I walked in and swooped me up in a huge bear hug.
So here's the story. About three years ago when we worked together, Cat Door's sister Whitney was hospitalized because she'd had a nervous breakdown. At that time, she was diagnosed as bipolar and put on meds and seemed to be doing well. Her diagnosis ended up opening up a huge can of worms, as Cat Door's dad ended up confessing that apparently their mom was also bipolar. And the weird part is that none of them ever knew. Their mom was in and out of the psychiatric ward a ton of times, but the kids were always kept really in the dark about what was really going on...to the point that when she disappeared their dad would say that she had gone out of state to visit relatives. I think they had good intentions of trying not to make the kids upset or worried, but all they remembered was having an absentee mother and not understanding why.
About six months ago, Whitney crashed again. And then about a month ago, she tried to hurt herself. As of Wednesday, she is on her third hospitalization in 30 days because she just can't seem to cycle back up. Meanwhile, her husband is totally in denial and trying to move to a new house so he does stupid bullshit like saying, "Okay Whitney, enough is enough, you need to snap out of this so you can come home and pack up to move!" Um, NOT helpful. Couple that with the fact that he's a pharmaceutical rep and apparently in cahoots with one of her doctors to tweak her meds in some probably pretty unorthodox ways and she just can't seem to get stabilized.
The kicker for me - she has two kids. Two little kids aged 5 and 8. Two little kids that need their mommy. God, that part just tears me to shreds.
So what Cat Door was looking for was advice from me for two reasons - one, from the perspective of someone with kids, and two, from someone who had a loved one who struggled with depression. He and I have talked a lot about that over the time we've known each other and I think he was hoping that I would have the silver bullet to give him to take on his trip up there today to talk some sense into his brother-in-law.
Well, I don't have a silver bullet. I'm not sure that anyone has one that can help this situation with a single shot. But I shared my perspective with him, gave him a few things to talk to his brother-in-law about, we drank our drinks, and then it was time for me to leave to pick Monkey Man up at school. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," he said as I hugged him goodbye and left him in the parking lot. "I know it's hard, but she'll make it. I know she will," I told him, "She's a fighter."
I picked Monkey Man up and we drove to the other side of the city to meet Joey for dinner and to get New Monkey Man Shoes That Require a Kidney to Purchase, and as the miles went by all I could think about was the day that my dad was lying in a coma and I called Cat Door for help. He was the only friend I had who had lost a parent, and his advice of the time not only pulled me out of the dark, but it's something that I have carried in my heart every day of my life since.
So maybe I didn't exactly save anyone's life - but hopefully, maybe, I helped a little bit. Maybe. I guess if nothing else, I gave him someone to talk to who understands what it's like just like he did for me on that hot day last August as I stood shivering in the summer heat outside the hospital, sleep-deprived and scared that it had all come to that moment. And that moment leaves you breathless and feeling desperately hopeless.
If I can ask y'all, please send up some love, prayers, or whatever for Whitney. She needs them bad. And keep Cat Door and his family in your thoughts too. I haven't stopped praying since I walked out of Starbucks yesterday.