When I came home and didn't hear any gunshots or screaming, I knew there had to be something wrong.
I worked 7-3:30 on Friday. Rode home. As I came up my street, I noted the presence of... is that an ambulance? parked on the road somewhere disquietingly close to where my house is. As I came a little closer, I briefly wondered if it was actually one of those large tow trucks. Then I got close enough to definitely identify the ambulance and also realize it was parked one house past me. I abruptly lost...most of...my interest. Not all, but most.
That may sound odd to you. It sure seems like most people are drawn to any emergency vehicle that shows up. I've never understood that. Let the people do their jobs, and what exactly are you looking for? Blood? Dead bodies? Is that it?
The remaining bit of interest was there because, well, there were no cars in the driveway next door. I had nothing more concrete to suggest that the ambulance was in fact connected to my house, but I didn't need concrete to feel vaguely uncomfortable.
I stashed my bike in the shed, unlocked the side door and came in.
Silence is not completely unheard of at 4:00 in the afternoon on a weekday--sometimes Mark takes naps--but it's unusual. Normally he's sitting on the couch watching television at that hour, and Mark's taste tends towards action movies, of which I am admittedly not a fan. The TV also suffers from that extremely annoying lack of balance that makes dialogue almost inaudible while any and all music and every single gunshot is rendered well beyond top volume.
So the silence was relatively intense. Coupled with the ambulance outside, just a touch suggestive.
I went upstairs -- I'll admit I was moving a little faster than I might normally -- and checked his room, calling his name. No Mark. Down to the basement, where there's another TV and a recliner he sometimes likes to luxuriate in. No Mark there, either. Back to the main floor. Now I'm frightened. You have to understand: Thanks to Eva having hit two deer in three months, we have one vehicle now -- his truck -- and Eva had it at her work. Mark doesn't leave the house often. I was suddenly sure he just had. And was in the ambulance, which -- steal glance outside -- is still there.
Still, I'm not sure. Maybe he's out on the back deck. He sometimes goes out there, right? Out I went.
Run to the gate that separates our backyard and driveway. The fright is gone. It's been replaced by sheer panic. Forget that the gate opens into the back yard (even though I had both opened it and closed it maybe ninety seconds earlier) and push it the other way instead. Dimly hear cracking wood. I have ripped the gate from its supports. And the ambulance is sedately driving away, no lights, no siren. I refuse to allow that thought -- no lights and no siren means he's d -- any purchase in my mind. I am, after all, still not CERTAIN.
Run in, text and email Eva at work, the same message: "Love I just got home and ambulance was parked next door and was just pulling away. Mark is not here".
Her return message was pure Eva-in-crisis-mode. "Ok thanks love".
I settled down to do the thing I hate doing more than anything: waiting for news. Give me any news you have, goddamnit: I don't care how bad it is, I'd rather know it so I can start processing it. I've been like that as long as I can remember and it carries over to every facet of my life. In some respects I have nearly unlimited patience, but when it comes to information, I want it all and I want it now.
The only thing that makes waiting even remotely...acceptable...is the thing that makes anything unpalatable better. Sharing it. And so I messaged my other partner, who immediately offered (twice) to come and be with me and take me down to the hospital, which is on the other side of the city and more than an hour away. Eva had already said my presence wasn't needed yet, which is understandable, and so I said it was okay. It wasn't, of course.
In hindsight, Eva got back to me astonishingly fast. Couldn't have been more than ten minutes and probably less. "Possible heart attack".
In this context, I loved that word possible. Possible meant they weren't sure; not being sure of something as bad as a heart attack could only be a good thing, right? Or that's how my mind spun it.
Then I get a text from Mark. That almost gave me a possible heart attack. We had just been talking, yet again, the night before about how HE. DOES. NOT. TEXT. We're of the same mind on this, he and I; since the world collectively developed a phobia of using its voice, the two of us have felt more and more out of place. His text read "Hi Ken, don't worry. I am ok. Going for tests. Cu later".
It turns out Eva had been able to call Mark right away; he answered from the ambulance, which surprised me. My mind was set much at ease: Mark was probably at least semi-okay, first and foremost. Eva was on her way, which would make both of them feel better. I wished I had someone here, too, and regretted not accepting the earlier offer.
As I write this, Mark is still in hospital and will be for a least another day (he has an angiogram today, as well as a possible stent to go in). It was a heart attack, at the back of his heart, and it's a good thing he heeded it. He feels good, and wants to come home, but they won't let him, which means he's not out of the woods yet.
It's also a good thing (again, only in hindsight) that I got home when I did. Without that ambulance there, I'd have come in, noted Mark's absence, and assumed he had stepped out. Or was upstairs sleeping, and why would I bother him? Of course, he would have texted or called Eva anyway, and I would have found out at the same time I did, but still...I'm glad that I got the ball rolling from this end.
There has been virtual radio silence from here as this unfolded...Eva told me not to tell anyone ("except Kathy, of course") out of respect for Mark, his privacy, and our unconventional living arrangement, which keeps finding ways to come up. Eva told the nurse yesterday that when Mark is discharged, "my husband will be at home for him, but Ken doesn't drive" (this after already having identified herself as his girlfriend; to raised eyebrows).
It brings up something for a later post: these kinds of close-knit relationships and alternate living arrangements need to be legally respected, with all that entails. Without extraordinary measures, Eva would have no standing to even ask about Mark in a medical context. And god forbid if he were to die.
Eva actually apologized to me at one point Friday night. When I asked her why, she said, "you didn't sign up for this aspect of the relationship". I goggled at that. I don't sign up for things and then add asterisks and conditions. We are very much looking forward to having him home and healthy, because Mark is family.
So is Kathy. Thank you, hon, for keeping me company, even if only virtually, as I waited for news, and thank you for your unwavering support for all three of us.
Will update as required.