The Best Worst Day
The worst day of my life started with Sarah bringing me breakfast, something she'd never done before.
"What's this?" I asked as I sat up in bed. I looked at the tray table she held in her hands. On it was a plate with eggs, bacon, and toast, and a glass of orange juice. Next to the plate was the morning newspaper. She simply smiled as she placed the tray onto the bed in front of me. As I did all of the cooking in the house I eyed the breakfast meal in front of me with an appraising eye. The eggs had apparently started out as being over hard and morphed into scrambled eggs. Despite that effort, they still appeared a bit runny and under done. The bacon was burnt as was the toast.
"It's a bit of a celebration," Sarah answered cryptically. She motioned for me to eat. I did a bit. A few bites of the underdone eggs were about all I could muster. The bacon felt like ash in my mouth. The toast was okay. I washed it down with half of the orange juice before I cast her a suspicious eye.
"A celebration of what?" I asked, knowing that it was nowhere near any special occasion worthy of celebration. Not our wedding anniversary (that was two months prior), and not anybody's birthday.
"Well," she began with a broad smile, "you know how I'd been feeling sick to my stomach for the past few weeks? We thought it might be that bug that's been going around? I went on a hunch and decided to find another answer."
Sarah lifted up the paper to reveal a long plastic object that she'd placed under it. There was a plus symbol clearly visible on the plastic display. I looked at it in surprise. "Is that what I think it is?" Sarah smiled even wider and nodded vigorously.
"I'm pregnant!" she exclaimed.
I nearly knocked over the breakfast tray in my attempt to hug my wife of ten years. Emotions and memories flooded my brain at once. I was twelve years Sarah's senior, and had almost given up on ever having a wife and family of my own when I met Sarah. I came from a large family and wanted that for myself. Sarah had just gotten her Masters in business and was interning at my office. We hit it off right away and were married a year later. She was twenty-five and full of life. I felt certain that the family that had eluded me was guaranteed. After ten years of trying, we were on the verge of using medical means to force what nature had been denying us. But now, there was no need. Sarah, now thirty-five, and me at forty-seven, were about to have our very first child. The fact that was probably also going to be our only child was a brief thought that I quickly put aside.
"Of course, this is a supermarket test," Sarah cautioned as we broke our mad embrace. "I've made an appointment with the clinic this afternoon to make sure." I nodded in understanding. As accurate as the advertisements claim those over-the-counter tests to be, there is still an amount of inaccuracy that leads to false results. We wanted to be certain for sure. I placed a lid on my enthusiasm and went about my normal weekend morning routine.
At around one, Sarah and I drove across town to the clinic to have a more accurate test done. I was surprised that the clinic was even open on a Saturday, but I was glad that it was and that they were able to see Sarah right away. I sat in nervous anticipation in the waiting room for what seemed like an eternity. All sorts of thoughts crossed my mind. What if it was a false alarm? What would we do then? That would probably be the final catalyst to force us to look into in vitro for real. What if Sarah were actually pregnant? Then what? Was our house big enough? Should we move into something bigger? With more rooms? Boy or girl?
My head was swimming with so many questions I almost didn't notice Sarah walk into the waiting room. She was holding a sheet of paper and was crying. My heart sank into my gut as I shot to my feet. Sarah slowly walked up to me with the printout and then looked up at me. She managed a weak smile. "I'm pregnant," she said through her tears of joy. Soon I had tears of my own as we embraced once again.
We thanked the nurses profusely and paid what we owed for the visit. I would have paid ten times that amount for the good news they'd given us. Instead we got back into the car and began the trek home. All the while I peppered her with questions, and we bantered back and forth about what the next steps should be.
"How far along?"
"About six weeks now."
"I know! The fact that my period was late kind of gave me the clue that my 'illness' wasn't really an illness." She held up the printout. "Now we know why."
"Now we know why," I repeated.
We were stopped at a major intersection a mile away from our house by a red light. I saw the city bus behind us not slowing down through the rear-view mirror. The driver was looking down at something as the bus continued to barrel toward us. I could clearly see him look up from his phone at the last second and slam on his breaks just as I slammed on mine, but it was too late.
The bus completely caved in the trunk on the sedan as it impacted and pushed us out into the intersection, despite the brakes locking up all of my wheels. We screeched into crossing traffic, coming directly into the path of a semi truck.
The semi hit us at full speed, slamming into the passenger door where Sarah sat. In slow motion, as the door crumpled under the force, all of the glass shattered and filled the cabin. I heard a loud crack over the cacophony of metal scraping and crushing metal, and rubber screeching across asphalt. The glass shards twinkled in the sunlight as they whipped past my face, digging into the skin just enough to tear a small wound before skipping away in another direction.
The force of the impact lifted the car off of its tires and it flew sideways, diagonally across the intersection. It only came to a stop after it had hit the concrete traffic signal pole with enough force for the pole to cut two feet into the driver's side rear door. The car dropped to the ground and rested there. It was then I noticed that something had fallen into my lap.
Before I looked at what I had in my lap, I turned to look at the pole now sitting in the seat behind me. Two feet closer and it would have torn through me. I wish now that it would have. I looked from the pole to my lap and wished to God that the pole hadn't missed me. It was Sarah's head in my lap.
It was covered in blood and resting at an odd enough angle for me to know instantly that her neck had been broken. The impact of the truck and the glass of the door had caved her head in at the temple. Her right eye was open, or exposed, I couldn't be completely certain which, and fixed as it looked at the smashed dashboard. I looked down the length of her half crushed body to see if there was any sign of life when my eyes landed on the printout still clutched in her hand.
With tears in my eyes I managed to move my sore arms enough to cradle the head of my wife of ten years, knowing that with her went the child just beginning to develop inside her. With her went the only hope of my ever having a child of my own. I sobbed at my double loss,the salty tears stinging the cuts on my face and mingling with the blood slowly issuing from them, wishing that the pole had been just two feet closer.