I used to have this reoccurring dream that my dad was driving our mini van and a big yellow train engine hauling silver cars would smash into him and the van would explode. He was always dead on impact. I must have had this dream a hundred times growing up.
Last night at 10 pm, the phone rang and I saw from the caller ID that it was my parent’s house. Now we have a kind of code in my family, that if you call after a certain hour, usually 9-10, that it’s something serious. So naturally, and hoping it would be a joke, I answered with “Who’s in the hospital?”
It was my mom’s voice that replied, “It’s your dad. He was hit by a school bus.”
“Jesus! Is he okay?”
“Yeah, he’s fine. He was driving the van and she just didn’t see him.”
“Well, what did the doctors say?” I asked.
“Nothing yet, he’s waiting to find out. He drove the totaled van home and took a bunch of ibuprofen and a hot bath, saying that he was good. But after awhile his pain was bad enough that I convinced him to go to the hospital. But you know your dad, he didn’t let me drive.”
I paused to take a deep breath. “At least there weren’t any kids in the bus.”
“Oh, there were. But I think they’re all fine.”
Later I called her back to check up. “How is he?”
“He’ll be fine. His neck is in a brace and he’s got a couple of compressed vertebrae in his lower back, but he’s okay.”
I went to bed reminded of that dream I had when I was a little kid. Over and over I had to watch my dad die. I lay there for awhile just thinking: Can’t my family get a break? Just a month or two without someone being in mortal danger or the house burning down? This isn’t fair.
In the morning, my wife woke me up. “Hey, my little sister wrote me on Facebook, it says ‘Listen. I’m so pregnant.'”
I replied groggily, half-awake. “Goddammit.”