Midnight Writer: Summoned
November 12, 2013
Today I was summoned, well not exactly as it sounds, I received a summons. Not proud of it by any imaginable means. I am heartbroken not to be able to pay the bill like I always did and always intended to. I was out there with the rest of the work force, contented to do my job, get my check and pay for the things that filled my life. My husband was doing the same and together we pooled our money to pay for necessities and so called luxuries we purchased for ourselves and our family. We had already faced the loss of my husband’s forty plus year job. A job we had counted on to support us until retirement and beyond with his retirement fund. We were devastated but determined to hold on and get through it with the help of unemployment. Here my confession is that we acted from our hearts rather than our heads with love slowly using his retirement to help our children who had children of their own and financial problems that seemed insurmountable. You say stupid, foolish, perhaps but when your grandchildren need the security of a roof over their heads and food on the table you do what you have to do to care for them. Still determined to wade through and come out unscathed I continued to work and pulled whatever hours I had too.
But one day pain overtook my body and soul and I suffered a heart attack, followed by a quadruple bypass. It turns out that believe it or not the pain, the surgery and the recuperation was the easy part. My life turned upside down and inside out from that day forth. My hospital stay is kind of a big blur, probably from the pain meds in the beginning, then from the medications prescribed for me to maintain my life, my heart.
I remember coming home and every ounce, every inch of me hurting. Physically I was fighting my fears and my pain to cope, but mentally I was like a broken doll. Even before I left the hospital I had decided my life was over, that everything that was my everyday was now gone. Believing I was fixed, that I would be fine after the miracle they had performed on me was beyond my comprehension. All I really knew is that I was no longer going to have my job of child care and house cleaning. The family I worked for couldn’t be put on hold, they needed me now not in however many weeks or months it would take me to get back on my feet, if ever. All the years I had waited to get my license to drive now felt wasted since my mind couldn’t wrap around ever driving again. Simple tasks like showering and getting dressed sapped every drop of energy I could muster. So I sat, in my sweats, I cried, and I cried and I cried some more. Changing my bandages was the most excruciating chore I could ever have dreamt of in my worst nightmare. I slept on the couch since I couldn’t do stairs. There was no day, no hour that I didn’t feel the loss of something else that had been my routine, worse yet my passion. Reading, music, crocheting, even television held no comfort for me.
Needless to say the bills piled up, finding me, both of us, dreading the mail coming and God forbid the phone ringing. Fear filled my whole world wondering if we would lose our home, our car, how we would buy food. Lines had to be drawn, priorities had to be determined, first things first with what little money we did have. Credit card bills had to be pushed back for the necessities of heat, electricity, prescriptions, the list appeared never to end when it was put down on paper. Eventually, how I am not sure, I day by day pulled myself together on the outside, while inside so much of me remained dead. I couldn’t explain how I was not the same person I had been before my life changing illness. I tried in vain, continuing to cry nearly every day, except I hid the tears in the shower, in the darkness of the night, in any moment I was alone so I didn’t have to explain them. The phone rang, “yes, this is so and so, this is an attempt to collect a debt”. My newly repaired heart slammed into my chest like a tidal wave hitting a brick wall, as fear of what they would do when I didn’t answer and couldn’t pay them surged through my very being.
My husband found a job for a little over a year and earned little enough for extended unemployment to continue for a while. Then one day the BLANK hit the fan and his job ended, the unemployment ran out, my job was gone, besides the fact that I wasn’t in any physical shape to be hired by anyone. Here my deepest sympathy goes out to anyone and everyone who is now or ever has been in this same sinking boat. The fear, the worry, the stress, the impossibility, the forever-ness of the situation haunts you every second of the day and night with no pity, no reprieve. Bill collectors and collection agencies are relentless and hard hearted. I realize that this is their job, but regardless you simply cannot get blood from a stone, therefore you cannot get money where there is none.
We jump to today when we both are attempting to live on just our retirement. Like the throngs of other seniors, now perhaps in bad health, trying to afford health insurance, co-pays and prescriptions, keeping a roof over their heads, food on the table, paying necessary utilities we struggle to face each new day. Sleepless nights, dawns with dim outlooks, fears of shut offs, aches and pains fill our GOLDEN YEARS.
So yes, I have been served a summons and I quake at the thought of what they can and cannot do to me since I have no money to give them. I cry, I don’t sleep I can’t focus on anything but what might happen. I haven’t meant to burden you with my tale for I surely know I am but one small pebble in a huge ocean of people drowning with me. I just wish that long ago someone, anyone would have warned me that those GOLDEN YEARS that we are all programed to believe in are in terrible danger of becoming so tarnished that they are unrecognizable. My prayers to all……