December 7, 2009

Driving Under the Influence

As Bertrand and I made our way out of Primary Children's Medical Center today, we were almost hit by a car. This wasn't a major occurrence and I should probably be writing instead about how our observation at the Carmen B. Pingree Center for Autism went (well), how Bertrand's blood draw went (awful) or how many drops he has so far today (unfortunately, two). But, no. The driver of the little burgundy honda takes precedence today because her tear stained face belied the fact that she was driving, like I have so many times, under the influence of grief.

There have been countless times, as Bertrand and I left one of his doctors appointments, when I have almost hit someone, run stop signs, red lights and missed turns--all in the same 3 minute drive home. Once I was so bad, I pulled over at my husband's office (conveniently located between our house and the hospital) because I was simply not safe to drive. I've since thought that doctors, much like bartenders, should be obligated to ask, "do you need a cab?" after giving the news that a child is dying because of a metabolic/neurodegenerative/genetic condition, cancer, etc. Or even non-fatal news like a child will never see, walk or learn.

Speaking from experience, grief generated from news like that tears your soul out. You're a shell of a human behind a wheel. You wouldn't notice if the sky turned green and pigs were flying--much less a pedestrian trying to cross the road. I'd feel safer in a car driven by someone who drank a 6 pack of beer than in a car driven by a parent ravaged by grief--it is that debilitating. For those of you out there who don't understand this comparison, I am happy for you and hope you never do. For those of you reading this blog who do understand this comparison maybe you'll share in my guilt that I should've gotten that woman a hug and a cab.


  1. I'd have to agree that extreme emotions are every bit as bad as driving under the influence. I have, unfortunately, in times of fear driven at speeds well above the limit and not aware of where I was. I hope to never experience that type of situation again. I hope that I, nor you and Matt, ever experience that type of situation ever again.

  2. Well said and so true. I've been there many times in the past year. Thanks for your honesty.