Tuesday, December 26, 2006
To everyone in our armed forces stationed overseas, get home safe. Know that we care about you. These words from the football broadcaster. And at that very minute a friend calls to let them know she got home safe: 62 miles in just over an hour, unheard of time for her. It's the third quarter and the Jets just kicked a field goal, the first score of the game. The New Jersey Jets, her husband says. Don't call them New Yorkers. He always roots for whoever's opposing them. Person after person wished her a safe trip home. The fourth quarter starts with a Miami touchdown. The announcer predicts a lot of action this quarter, but it's ten o'clock, so they turn Eyewitness News on.
Last year, when they drove to Houston, it was his prescription they were waiting for. Leaving a day later than planned, then another two hours, three hours, four hours. Hanging around for the pharmacist who, for all they knew, might have walked out. This was at Duane Reade, the only place in her building now, the closest non-chain pharmacy eight blocks away. The whole world gone to chains – restaurants, video stores, The Gap, K-Mart, Eddie Bauer, Toys R Us. He hates it.
Midrin. That's the drug she used to take for pain those days when Tylenol didn't work. A half-step before reaching for Percocet. And she remembers one Christmas years ago when there was a small drugstore in her building. The day before she left she brought the prescription in for refill, and they ran out. Her absolute state of desperation, she could not spend the holidays with his family and not have these security pills along. They ended up giving her brand rather than generic, he forking up the difference out of pocket. Back in those days she'd have sold her soul.
She takes Tylenol for the first time since she's been here. The end of Christmas Day. For the most part it's been a good day. Her husband and his brother talking about how much calmer it is in their father's absence. The toddler a delight. They call the other brother. Football on in the background. They call his father. They call her father. Just the four of them in the house now. He massages her head a bit (as he did their first Christmas here, twenty years ago). She massages his stiff shoulder. She eats cookies, pie, homemade praline ice cream, more cookies. This is probably sugar shock. One more day to go. She opens the Tylenol bottle in her purse and sees that if she takes two now there will only be two left. The old panic sets in.