The Worst Day

I thought I had survived The Apocalypse.

I thought I had lived through the worst.

I was wrong.

Yesterday, in the early afternoon hours, I received an email that would forever change the course of my life.  It would, I think, change the very fabric of me.  Permanently.

I was standing up when I read it.  The words instantly became more than black and white letters as they lept from the monitor and seered themselves into my brain with an electric shock.

I stopped breathing.  I pressed my palms into the wood of the table top to steady myself.

And then I started breathing.  Kind of.  I inhaled.  Over and over and over again I inhaled.  Quick, sharp, stabbing gulps of air that never reached my lungs.

I could hear myself gasping for air.

And then I heard the pathetic sound of my own voice.

“Oh God, Oh God.”

It started as a frantic whisper, mixed with the pounding woosh of air I was still desperately trying to suck in.

“Oh God, Oh God.”

I let go of the table.  I paced around the enclosed porch I had been working in, looking for more oxygen in each corner.

“Oh God, Oh God.”

My breaths came faster still, and louder, along with my pleas.

“Oh God, Oh God.”

I collapsed.

I screamed.  It was the blood curlding noise of a wounded animal, and with its release, the air returned to my lungs.

I kept screaming.

“Oh God, Oh God.”

I screamed as hard as I could, hoping the pain in my throat would overcome the hot, tearing, cutting in my chest.  Hoping to get it out of me.

I began to rock back and forth, like some horrible victim in a horrible Lifetime movie.  It was pathetic and cliche and I was powerless to stop it.  I could hear the screams, I knew they were coming from my body, but I couldn’t stop the surge.

In the distance, I heard the muffled sounds of another voice.

“Britt?  Britt!  Britt?!”

“Oh God, Oh God,” I wailed more.

“Britt!  What happened?”

“Oh God, Oh God,” I couldn’t see.  I couldn’t talk.  I could do nothing but cry and scream and rock frantically as wave after wave of pain rose up out of me.

“Britt,” the voice was in my ear now, “Britt, please, what happened?”

“Go see,” I screamed.  “Go see.  Oh my God, go see.  I can’t… I can’t” I flailed my arm in the direction of my still open computer.

“Oh… God…” it wasn’t my voice this time.  And just like that I knew someone else knew and it was bigger and hotter and more real and dear God there was even more pain than there had been just a moment before.   There was still so much more.  How, HOW could there be more pain?

“GET MY MOM!” I screamed.

“Ok, Ok,” Adam was quiet and scared.  I felt him pat my back as I rocked back and forth, screaming and crying and gupling for air.

“GET MY MOM!”

“OK… OK…”

“NOW!”

White hot, the pain ripped through me again.  It hooked into my chest and tore down my insides.  I clawed at my flesh, desperate to rip it from my rib cage.

“Get it out… please… take it out.  GET IT OUT!”

I heaved.  My body lurched until I was on all fours, wretching nothing but invisible grief and anger into the nothingness in front of me.

“Get.  Hilly.” I sobbed.  “Get.  Faiqa.”

“Ok… Ok…”

“NOW!  Get them!  Get them RIGHT NOW!”  I hurled all of my rage at him, willing them to come to me.  Now.  Right NOW.  It needed to stop NOW.

And then there was her voice.

“Britt.”

I wretch again.

“Britt.  Britt, I’m right here.”

She chiseled through the war that raged on all around me, inside of me.

“Britt.  Britt… shhh… baby.  I’m right here.  I’m here.”

“Oh, God.  Mom.  Mawwwwwwwwwwm,” and the crying was back with the rocking.

“I’m right here.  Baby, I’m right here.”

I sobbed.  From my toes, I sobbed.

“It hurts.  Oh, God, it hurts.  It hurst so bad.”

“I know, Baby, I know.”

“Please make it stop,” I begged.  “Please, please make it stop.”

“OK.”

“I can’t do this.  I can’t feel this.”

“Shhh… you can, Baby.  You can.  I’m right here.”

“I can’t.  Kill me, Mom.  Please.  Please let me die so that it will stop.  Pleeeaaaaase.  Pleeeeeaaase let me die.”  The tears flowed from my face.  My whole face cried, because my two eyes alone were not enough.

“Honey, hang on.  Shhh… hang on.  You just have to get through the next 60 seconds.”

“I can’t.  I can’t.  I-”

“Yes.  You can.  60 seconds.  Just hold on for the next 60 seconds.

It was like she was beside me.  I was trapped in a smothering cloud, but she was pressed up against me, her cheek against mine, rocking in time with me.  Her voice was her warm hand pushed tightly against my face.

“Hold.  On.  You can get through the next 60 seconds.  And nothing will ever, ever hurt this bad again.”

“It will,” I whimpered.  “It will.  It will always, always hurt like this.”

The weight on my chest was heavy now, crushing, but not cutting.

“This is the bottom, Baby,” she cooed in my ear.  “This is the bottom.”  We rocked back and forth.  Slowly.  Slowly.  We rocked.

“It hurts so bad, Mom,” my voice was so small and weak, like that of a child.

“I know, Baby.  I know.”

“What do I do?  What do I do?”

“Do nothing,” she said.

I don’t know how long she rocked with me.  It was at once forever and an instant that I had been there on that floor, heaving the pain from me.  There was everything and nothing, nothing but me and her and her voice.  And the pain.

But it was heavy now.  Just heavy.

I could lay under the weight of heavy.

I was just breathing now.  Quietly crying and smoking and breathing, free floating in something that was numbness and not at all numbness.

“Give the phone to Adam,” she said.

“OK.”

I handed the phone to Adam and layed down on the river rock.  I pressed my face into the cool hardness and stared out into the grass just beyond the screen.  Their voices mingled with the nothingness a million miles away.  I pushed my body deeper into the ground beneath me, willing it to swallow me whole and hanging on to the blunt pain of little rocks digging into my skin.

Hilly would come.

She would sit on the ground with me and hold me as I cried again, the pain being new for a moment with the new face in the room.  But it was just for a moment this time.  Her arms were soft and I could smell her lotion when I buried my face in her chest.

They would pack up my things and lead me out to a car.  She would talk, and I talked back.  I would shake my head, confused and bewildered now by all the things that were no longer true or real or right.  She would drive and I would watch familiar roads and signs float past me out the window.

I would lay on her couch and throw things at her TV.

I would eat.

I would wait for the all clear and glide up my driveway and through my front door.

And then, I would hear Emma.  Awake.  Needing me in the next room.

And I did not glide anymore.  I walked to her room and sat on her bad.  I breathed.  I smiled.  I wrapped her in my arms and pressed my life into her through the layers of blankets and oversized stuffed animals.

“I’m here, Baby.  I’m here.”

And her face glowed in the dim light.  Her smile pushed beyond her cheeks and her eyes squinted from the overflow.

My, God, the love.  It filled me.  The caverns and empty spaces swelled with warmth and I could feel my fingers again.  I smiled, hard.  I tucked her in and closed the door and breathed the deepest breath of relief that I had ever known.

I plied the contacts from eyes, smoked another cigarette, and layed down in my bed.  In my hand, I held a child sized set of rosary beads.  I closed my eyes and wrapped my fingers around the tiny green beads.

“Our Father, who art in heaven…”

My brain whispered to me.  The glass and delicate metal links slipped through my hands.  One by one.  Slowly.  Again and again.

“Holy Mary, mother of God…”

And I slept.

Today, I woke up beside two children who had crawled into bed with me.  The ache in my chest was dull, small in comparison to the comfort of their sleeping bodies.

I did not die.

There is so much to do now.  So much to feel and say and think and handle and do.

But for now, there is just this.

I did not die.

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  1. Mom2nji says:

    (hug). I have no idea what this is about, but your pain is palpable. My heart is hurting for you.

  2. Headless Mom says:

    I hate that you’re so far away and I can’t be there to help.

    Know that I love you.

  3. Nanna says:

    You forgot the funny part. “I think I gave Adam a heart attack. If he hadn’t lost all that weight, he’d probably be dead.” hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  4. KBO says:

    Sigh.

    I don’t know you. I met you briefly at BlogHer at registration. But I’ve read you for a while and have been reading your story here. And my heart is aching for you. Your mom is right, this is the bottom. This, too, shall pass. That’s so easy for me to say, because it feels like you are in a dark hole that you can never get out of. But you will. Sending Iowa hugs via St Louis.

  5. Finn says:

    I love you, sweetie. ((hug))

  6. Heather says:

    I am so thankful for the wonderful, loving people you have in your life. It’s hard to know what to say right now…just adding my voice to the many. Hang on, lady. Thinking of you…

  7. Tracy says:

    *hugs* I’m sorry, hon. Know that I’m thinking about you.

  8. Jenn says:

    Oh, my heart sank and my chest burned reading this. I don’t know what to do other than say I’m thinking of you. And I want to send a mixtape.

    You are not alone.
    You are not alone.
    You are not alone.

  9. Shash says:

    So much love and hugs heading your way. I’ll see you soon. Love you.

  10. melissa says:

    I’m not sure what is causing this pain, but I feel for you.

  11. Oh honey. I wish I could be there for you. Breathe and embrace the pain, but don’t let it own you. The pain it will make later joys the sweetest.

  12. Becky says:

    All I’m going to say is that I’m sending you all kinds of love, good thoughts, and hugs.

  13. one minute at a time. then twenty minutes at a time. or just like eating an elephant… one bite at a time.

  14. muskrat says:

    I found it a little amusing that I had to scroll past “thumb this up” before commenting. Not so much.
    I wish you could jump ahead to January or something.

  15. Bre says:

    I’m glad you did not die. I love you, Britt, as an older sister (that I never had). I love your kids, too. I’m sending a million and five hugs to all three of you. Call if there’s anything I can do.

  16. corrin says:

    You’ve got some truly fabulous people in your life. You are going to be a-okay.

  17. Hockeyman says:

    {{hugs}} If there is anything I or we can possibly do to help, please don’t hesitate ok? Seriously. Perhaps a play date with the kiddos or something fun for the kids that will be fun for you in return, just let me/us know.

  18. Kim says:

    Britt, whatever it is, I’m so sorry.

    I’m positive no matter how bad it is you’ll get through it. I hope it’s not the worst case scenario, but if so, I understand and I’ll be here (and there) for you if you need me for anything!

    ((hugs))

  19. Deborah says:

    This is just gut wrenching….I am so hurting for you. Please take care of yourself. Love you!

  20. fogspinner says:

    ((Hugs))

    One breath at a time. You are much stronger than you think and you will make it through.

  21. Bonnie B. says:

    Your strength in being able to write this astounds me. Because I could barely read it through my sobbing. I don’t “know” you, but I ache for you.

  22. Chibi Jeebs says:

    Oh, Britt. Whatever it is, I’m so very sorry. Your pain is so very real I felt it as I read. Know you’re in my thoughts. Sending love.

  23. racheal says:

    so many things to tell you.

    1. it’s okay. it’s going to be okay. you will survive, you will be changed and different but you will be okay. more than okay. because that’s how you are, you don’t do piddly shit, you don’t do average, you do phenomenal and excellent and with this, you will do as you have done before, fanfuckingfabulous and leading the way.

    2. it’s a rollercoaster. and this is rock bottom. and you will go through high highs and crash so fucking low in the next ten minutes. but this is rock bottom. it can only go up from here right? it’s going to suck for a while, it’s going to hurt, and when it hurts so so very bad, pick up the phone, lock yourself in the room, smoke a whole carton, drink it up..do whatever you need to do in that moment. you don’t have to be anything, you don’t have to better or worst or guilty or ashamed…you just have to be. and whatever you’re feeling. just don’t hurt yourself, because you mean so so much to so so many people around you. cry, drink, do crazy things…just remember to pick up at the end. and just try again tomorrow.

    there is always a tomorrow.

    3. stupid cliche but there is a reason for this. there is a silver lining. think of all the choices, the possibilities. think of the things that will come from this. think of how this will make you stronger, wiser, scarred but so much more richer with lessons. this is probably not anythign you want to hear at all, you want to tell god to suck it, you want to scream at life and say take your fucking lessons, you want to say, holy mother of god…what the fuck?! but then, remember…just remember that years from now, you will look back at this and be able to see..just how pivotal this moment was…in a good way. really.

    4. this is your story. these are your feelings. this is your life. so really, on the grand scheme of things, nothing i say matters. you just need to do what you need to do…but if you ever feel like you need an extra push, a word of encouragement, all you have to do is look at your blog and around you and i pray you’ll see just how many people are in your camp. ready whenever you are. willing to do whatever it takes.

    5. and if not, you can just laugh at me. or poke fun at me. and my crazy life story and how i crashed the car yesterday reeling from a new discovery. and use it as a guide that it could always be worst….:)

    you are so loved.

    and i’m so so sorry. you deserve better.

    big big hugs.

  24. Robin says:

    It WILL be ok, eventually, it always is. I know it means nothing now but I know this helps me out when I’m at the lowest point.

    ((hugs))

  25. Kristin says:

    I think Rachael sums it up the very best way possible………
    BIG HUGS.
    Love you!

  26. I am thinking good thoughts for you.

  27. I think this is about what I hoped it WOULDN’T be about and I’m so sorry.

    Now that you know what rock bottom is, you won’t ever want to go there again. You have so many people who love you and will hold you up.

    I know we barely know each other, but I wanted you to know I care. I’m a short car ride away if you need a hug or a shoulder to cry on.

    Breathe. Even if it makes you cry, keep breathing.

  28. All I can tell you is I am thinking of you and that you WILL survive. You are a fighter and a very, very strong woman.

    (Hugs)

  29. Robina says:

    Oh Britt. I can feel the pain coming from this post, and I just …. I’m just so sorry for whatever it is. You have the most wonderful mother ever, and Adam is such an awesome friend to you!

    Thinking of you and hoping you never have to feel that way again. It’s just horrible.

  30. Laura says:

    I’m so sorry, Britt. *hugs*

  31. laprimera says:

    Oh, Britt. I’m so very sorry you are in pain. Sending you a big supportive hug. Know that many of us are here ready to listen and offer our shoulders to cry on (though distant). My heart remembers the pain you describe. You’re in my thoughts, hon. xoxo

  32. Angella says:

    Hugs, sweet Britt.

  33. lceel says:

    HUG. Big Bear HUG. Just look in the mirror and remember that you are amazing. You are Miss Britt.

  34. mommymae says:

    i’m so sorry you’re hurting like this.

  35. Dawn says:

    I hate that you feel this way. I’m sending you huge hugs.

  36. Aunt Becky says:

    Sending you love and light.

  37. I’m not sure what my words can add, but I feel compelled to let you know that I am so sorry you are having to experience this. I’m sending positive energy your way.

  38. My heart truly goes out to you. Hang in there, it will get better.

    {{HUGS}}

  39. fall into your support <3

  40. stephanie says:

    The pain and honesty in this post ripped my heart out. It was gut-wrenching to visualize your pain, and I am glad you had Adam with you…and then Hilly came as well. Just fall into their arms, and let them take care of you. Sometimes you just need to be that small child, to have someone guide you through you day. I had so hoped this wouldn’t happen. Hugs to you, sweetie, you’re in my prayers.

  41. *pixie* says:

    Hugs of the biggest variety. Just reading your words caused the tears to well up in my eyes. Hoping that the pain has gotten just a little bit easier today.

  42. perpstu says:

    *hugs upon hugs* my heart hurts just reading this post. I hope the pain has eased up a tiny bit today.

  43. Mary Jo says:

    You are in my thoughts… I hope for the best for you.

  44. Kim says:

    I was there. 15 years ago. And I only wish the message had come by email (as gutless as an email is) instead of the horrible way in which I received it. I did not have an loving mom or dozens of caring friends to help me through it, but I survived. And what I thought was the worst thing that could ever happen to me turned out to be the best thing that could have happened and NOW I am living the happily ever after that I’d never have otherwise known. Keep breathing. Good things will come and they will be better than anything you ever imagined. I promise!

  45. donna says:

    I can only imagine what the news was, but I am so sorry that whatever it was hurt you so badly. I don’t have anything new to add beyond what everyone else has said. Be kind to yourself. Lots of people love you. It will be ok.

  46. britni says:

    Hi Britt,
    here’s some anonymous internet fan love, and support. you’ll get through this, chicky.

  47. stacy O says:

    I’ve been there and I’ve done that…It does get better…..I feel your pain, and I’m sorry for you..

  48. Tonz says:

    I’m so sorry honey. Mums are such special people aren’t they??!

  49. Kris says:

    It’s so entirely cliche (which I hate), but what doesn’t kill us DOES make us stronger. You just can’t see it yet. But you soon will. I promise.

    You are strong, in spite of not realizing it yet.

    And you are loved. And you are not alone.

    (((HUGS)))

  50. mare says:

    I know this sounds-and I truly don’t mean it – insensitive but when I was reading and your mom said: ‘And nothing will ever, ever hurt this bad again’ and then you wrote of Emma I truly did think that the something that could never be worse had happened. I held my breath until you:’woke up beside two children’.

    So as bad as this is- and it truly, truly is – it will be okay. You just have to allow it be okay. I’m so very sorry Britt but I am thankful you have a world of support, near and far, intimate and friendly. Hold your heart open and you hands. Every little bit of positivity will help.

  51. Aw Jaysus Hon, this is just heartbreaking. I am so glad you have such great people around you. My thoughts and prayers go out to you from over here in Ireland, sending you virtual hugs and virtual whiskey too.

  52. SciFi Dad says:

    If I were nearby I’d totally give you a hug, even if that does sound weird or creepy.

    I’m sorry you’re hurting right now.

  53. Britt,

    I have a million and one things I want to say, but I can’t say them because they seem glib and not enough. I wish I could say I know what you are going through. I wish I could tell you it will be OK. But I can’t, because honestly, there is no tellign what can happen now. You know and I know, no one knows exactly what you are going through inside, not even Hilly and Adam, the awesome people that they are…

    Well, there is one thing I can say though I really *shouldn’t*, and even though I am a White Witch, I’ll say it anyway, so maybe you can have a good laugh:

    I can always cast a curse or two for you. Just say the word and it’s done!

    In fact I very nearly DID cast one upon reading this entry, because I am pretty sure I know the premise of that email, and I think the sender deserves to hurt some, if not more than you are hurting right now.

    But only if you want me to do it.

    I am angry and mad and sad and sympathetic for you. At the same time, I want to take you out and get rip roaring drunk with you so the hurt can go away, if only for a little while.

    December cannot come fast enough. Fully expect a very huge strong hug from me when I arrive.

    For now, know that if you ever need a friend, you have about a million on the internet who are willing to support you and send you love. Yours truly included.

    Hang in there, and stay strong for your kiddos. I know yout love for them will help you get through this utterly wretched time. They are all you need to worry about right now. Don’t even worry about what happens next, just make sure you love those kids with all you can muster.

    I will be praying for you. Yes, even witches pray!

    Love & Hugs,
    ~Cissa

  54. lauren says:

    I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say, but I wanted to just let you know that people are here and I cried.

  55. Sybil Law says:

    (hug) (hug) (hug) (hug) (hug) (hug) (hug)!!!

  56. Honeybell says:

    I received an email that would forever change the course of my life. It would, I think, change the very fabric of me. Permanently.

    You are still YOU. Nothing can change that, or take it away. You are still Brit, and you still have the same courage and experience to face what you need to.

    Hugs and prayers.

  57. Poppy says:

    I am absolutely certain you will rise up from this day, if you haven’t already.

  58. Tracie says:

    I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago. But I had to tell you, my heart hurts for you. May it take some pain away for you.

  59. maman says:

    We go on whether we want to at any given moment or not. I learned that from my grandmother who turns 102 tomorrow. Hang in there.

  60. [...] Tuesday, my best friend was broken. She's rebuilding, but I fear that her optimism will never be the same. That her capacity for [...]

  61. flutter says:

    Oh, honey. I am just so sorry.

  62. I hope you’re doing okay. So sorry you’re going through this. ((hugs))

  63. chrissi says:

    my heart physically aches for you..

    oh Britt – I am SO sorry..

  64. SwanShadow says:

    Stupid e-mail.

    Hang in there, Britt.

  65. Loralee says:

    I could have pretty much cut and paste most of this the day Matthew died.

    You know pain, that’s certain.

    And I am so sorry for that. xoxoxooxo

  66. Misty says:

    Corn-fed hugs from the Nebraskan trapped in Iowa.

  67. Zoeyjane says:

    I’m so sorry. I don’t know what for, but if you need someone removed to talk to, say the word. Sending hugs your way. (And maybe some beer and definitely more cigarettes, too.)

  68. Selma says:

    Thank God for all the great people you have around you. I am praying the pain will lessen day by day. XXX

  69. Vic says:

    You’re so lucky to have that support group – I’m glad they’re looking after you.
    Sending you hugs and good thoughts. x

  70. MariaV says:

    (((((Britt)))))

  71. Hilly says:

    Since we talk outside of your blog and you already know everything I think and feel for you, I will just say this.

    You are stronger than you know. I’ve seen it in you. Don’t forget that.

  72. Robin says:

    I may be on the opposite side of the Eastern Seaboard, but my arms are wide open for you…

    Do what you have to do to get through this time.

  73. kapgar says:

    I’m truly sorry, Britt.

  74. I am so sorry for your pain, Britt.

  75. Sarah says:

    Like mare, I read this and my throat closed until I saw that the kids were okay. That isn’t to minimize anything. I’m just so grateful that you have them and they have you and they are whole and healthy and so loved.

    There is nothing more empty and everlasting than the “dark night of the soul”, and nothing that feels more desolate and desperate. Please know that I have some inkling of where you have been – and as such please do not let go of the certainty that as far down as you have just gone, you will go up.

    I promise you, that joy will come and it will be breathtaking – in the other direction.

    Love, love, love, LOVE to you.

  76. Marni says:

    Lots and lots of hugs, Britt. I am so sorry you are going through this.

  77. Behind and just reading this, but sending thoughts, prayers, and hugs your way. I’m sorry you’re having a rough time. :(

  78. Karen says:

    I also held my breath through the whole post and didn’t really really breathe again until you said you woke up with TWO children in the bed with you.

    You are so strong. You will survive. HUGS!

  79. This may be really really dumb to hear now, but you will be SO much stronger on the other side. You will be FIERCE. A force to be reckoned with.

  80. Krystle says:

    I got to the end of this post, and had to regain my composure.

    I felt like I was sitting right beside you watching this all as it happened and it broke my heart.

    My heart is breaking for you; remember you are not alone.

  81. Deb says:

    You will be okay. It only hurts so bad because you care so much. I am so glad you have a support system. You will need them more than anything. But you will be okay and you will survive.

  82. ali says:

    HUGS TO YOU, MY FRIEND.
    I am soooooo sorry you have to go through this. thinking of you today. and every day.

  83. sizzle says:

    This post was riveting and I had tears in my eyes.

    (hug)

  84. Leslie says:

    Lots of hugs. How mean that someone would send you news like that in an Email! Thank goodness for Adam and Mom and Hilly.

  85. Rachael says:

    I don’t think you know me, but I’ve been a reader for a while. I’ve laughed at your posts, and sometimes, like today, I’ve cried. I am so sorry. I know I could say it a thousand times and it wouldn’t make things better, but my heart truly goes out to you right now. You’re in my thoughts, and my prayers, and I hope that somehow our words lift you up, even the tiniest bit. I haven’t been there, not even close. I wish you didn’t have to be there either. I’m sorry. (HUGS)

  86. Nenette says:

    We’re here for you, Britt. We love you, and we’re here for you.

  87. Special K says:

    Oh Britt my heart is just breaking for you. Your words brought me to tears and back to a place I was at 20 years ago. I wish you peace. You are so fortunate to have so many that love and care for you. Take everything they have to give you, they will be your saving grace.

  88. Miss Grace says:

    Thinking of you.

  89. I love you, hon.

    I love you so much.

    Just keep breathing.

  90. Danielle-lee says:

    I came to you via an email from Miss Grace, asking me if I had read you before. I lurked a few times, but this is the first comment.
    My thoughts are with you honey. Keep breathing. Don’t give up. You are so strong…

  91. Karl says:

    Yeah, I don’t even know the deal and there are tears in my eyes.

    Sorry, babe.

  92. [...] of my friends are hurting at the moment, and I don’t like it. Just finished reading a post over at Britt’s blog and it made me…acquire severe eye allergies. Same thing happened when I found out [...]

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