Who is your emergency contact? Easy question. Sure, my parents.
But wait. Good old Daddy and Mommy live 7 hours away.
No one here knows my parents or where they live. If I don’t talk to my parents for days, they do not know anyone here to call. This is not a pleasant conversation to have with yourself (yes, I talk to myself) even though I know that millions of people everywhere are in the same situation. But never-mind them, I just realized this and I feel a little scared. Fear is not my thing.
A few days ago I suddenly became ill with some horrible stomach thing (it is still under investigation – my first nearly botched stool sample experience). For a brief moment I thought I might have to go to the emergency room. Luckily, once I got home and situated that feeling passed (no pun intended). But it made me think. Here I am, Ms. Independent, laying in bed (sporadically) wondering what would happen if I could not leave the house or get to a phone. Yes, this is morbid and prompted by one little question. Welcome to an hour or so of thinking, spinning, and imagining all possible secret death/injury/illness scenarios.
I wondered, how would anyone know there was a problem? Maybe when I do not show up for work. But, who at work would notice? Really only a small handful because I am in and out so much. Yikes. Church? They might notice on Wednesday or Sunday, not good if this horrible thing (whatever it is) happens on Wednesday after church. What if I was in a car accident? No one would know. If I did not call my parents for long enough they might, say, call the police or something. Scary.
At this point, my hyper-active problem solving self kicked in. I promptly selected three people at work who see me a lot, seem to like me, and are trustworthy. I sent them emails asking that they take my parents’ information in case there is ever a problem. The responses were positive, as I suspected they would be. But they were also very reassuring and kind. One offered to provide all of his and his wife’s information to give to my parents. The second thanked me and talked about how she worried about this same thing when her brother lived in a big city alone. The third gave me her parents’ information so that I can do the same for her – her family lives in town. Support, affirmation, and kindness are always pretty. That was a nice response to my little what-will-happen-to-me hissy fit.
I also talked to my Mommy about this (my Daddy is less interested in this kind of morbid drama) and I think her response is remarkable. She said that being in my situation “is better”, better than being where I was, at home with her. That is a milestone admission. Of course, she also said that I am not the only person who is in this situation (I know, I know). It is amazing how quickly people forget that it is all about me!
It seems like a little thing. Who will be your emergency contact? It has always been an easy question to answer. Now, the question is a little more complicated. Complicated by distance, time, my maturity level (when you are 20 getting sick and needing help is not a prominent concern). Distance, time, and acknowledgement of your mortality makes even the most independent folks vulnerable.
Sometimes to get where we need to go, to become the people we need to be, or to experience things that are necessary for our growth we have to go away from what we know. We have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Sometimes it is better.