Yesterday was pure awful. Mondays are always a bit rough – or at least they have been since my return to work. We’re still working on our transitions from our wonderful weekends spent together as a family, to the weekdays when I leave before the sunrise to head up to Boston, you still asleep in your bassinet and your Daddy hoping to sneak in a shower, a quick breakfast, and some writing before you wake. Daddy takes such wonderful care of you while I’m away, but the days are long and not always easy, and by the time I get home in the evenings you are both ready to welcome Mommy back into the fold.
We have gotten into a bit of a weeknight routine. My train usually brings me in to Providence around 6:15. I catch a bus home, then sit and nurse you while Daddy mixes himself a cocktail and we talk about our day. We have dinner then – something we’ve prepared in advance that just needs to be heated, or something that comes together quickly, like a pasta dish or fish and vegetables. You nurse a lot in the evenings – “cluster feeding“, they call it – which means you spend the better part of the night nestled happily in my lap on the Boppy before going down for a full night’s sleep.
But last night was very different.
I’ve been taking the Amtrak train home for the last week or so. It gets me home around the same time as the commuter train does, but allows me to stay at work a little bit later (which means I can spend a bit more time at home with you in the mornings). The ride was uneventful at first. I sat and caught up on news and email, checking in with Daddy via text along the way, watching the time closely, eager to be home with you.
Then I felt the train hit something, hard. I saw a hail of sparks flying as we bounced and shuddered. Inside the car I was in, it was utterly silent. After what seemed like an eternity, the train came to a stop. People slowly got up from the floor of the train where they had dived in panic. They checked themselves and the people around them, and we sat in the dark and waited to hear what had happened. The sparks outside continued, the only light around us.
I would learn later that we hit a wire or wires that had come down over the tracks, and that as the train hit these live wires, it pulled the connecting wires down on top of us. We were surrounded, wrapped in these wires that still pulsed with electricity, and getting us safely out would be a time-consuming process. “It could be an hour. It could be five hours.” The voice was so matter-of-fact. Didn’t he know I had a baby at home? A baby who had been away from his mommy all day, a baby who needed to be fed? I was fighting tears, and I would continue to fight them until many hours later, when I jumped off the bus that had rolled me to the end of our street, and ran the two blocks home to you.
I sent Daddy a text message to let him know what had happened, that I was safe, but that I would be very late. We were in the middle of nowhere (somewhere around Sharon, Mass, actually), in the dark, and powerless in every sense of the word. In the end men came to cut the power to the wires and move them off the tracks next to us, and a “rescue train” pulled up to carry us the rest of the way to our destination. We stood single file, waiting to cross a rickety metal bridge spanning from our train to another, and a baby not much older than you fussed in the dark. It was heartbreaking. I have never missed you so intensely, or hated my stupid commute so much.
Daddy says you took things in stride, for the most part. You were out of sorts, you knew something was different about last night, and you fussed and fretted and clung to him tightly, but you didn’t scream and cry.
I finally arrived home to you more than five hours after setting out. In tears, I took you from your Daddy’s arms and held you and kissed you over and over, and told you how sorry I was. You wouldn’t look me in the eyes, but I knew you were so, so tired. I held you and nursed you and cried, while your Daddy kissed me and brought me a bowl of chili, which he had cooked on Sunday for Monday night’s dinner. I was so grateful we had planned ahead, even though we could not possibly have known what this Monday would hold for us.
We ate in silence, all three of us, seated in the glow of our Christmas lights, and within twenty minutes your eyelids had fluttered closed and you were asleep. Our longest day ever had come to an end, and I swear to you I will do whatever it takes to make sure we don’t have another day like this again.