I smelt her before I saw her. She must have bathed in the alcohol before she drank it. She could barely stand and in the few moments we shared space together before she knew I was there I witnessed her run into my exterior wall twice because she couldn't stand upright any more without support. In her hands were pieces of what used to be a stack of picture frames. The rest of the metal and glass were scattered in a million shards on the floor.
"Um, excuse me?"
I watched the older woman turn and try to focus her blood shot eyes on me. "What?!"
"I... uh... I was just wondering if you were okay. I heard a crash and some loud voices. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." She turned a few wobbly circles, put down the frame shards she was holding and then picked them up again. "I'm just moving out. Gotta move out, you know."
"That's good that you're okay. Is everybody fine? Is everybody you live with okay? It sounded like somebody got hurt."
"No, nobody got hurt. But somebody's gonna get hurt on this glass here."
"Yes, I see that. Do you need a broom maybe?"
"For what?" She looked down at her hands and the floor seemingly surprised to see the broken glass. "Yeah... I do."
"Do you have one? You're welcome to borrow mine."
"No, I don't need it. Just need to sweep this up so nobody gets cut."
"OK. So you have a broom?"
"What? Pick up some of that glass there and hand it to me."
I did as I was told. I wasn't wearing shoes and I felt a piece of glass enter the bottom of my foot and I remembered that it was almost 3:30am and I was talking to a crazy drunk lady outside my condo.
"Sure you don't want a broom?"
"Of course I do!"
"OK. Do you want to borrow mine?"
"If you've got it."
I went into my condo and retrieved a broom and dust pan. "Here you go. Do you want a garbage bag as well?"
"No... just gonna sweep this up."
"Right... but do you want a garbage bag to put it in?"
She looked in my direction, her gaze still unsteady. "No! I'm just gonna sweep it up!"
"OK. Need any other help?"
"Nope, just moving out."
"Um... did you realize that it's 3:30am? The crash woke me up and I..."
She swung around almost losing her balance and finally looked me right in the eye. "You have dogs!!"
"Yes, I understand this. I'm not accusing you of breaking rules. I'm not calling the cops or anything here." I put my phone in my pocket. "I was just hoping that you could be a little quieter. I have to be up in a few hours for work and..."
"I know about your dogs!"
"Yes... I know. You sound defensive and I'm not trying to make you upset. I just wanted to be sure you were all safe because it sounded like an emergency. When there's noise like this in the middle of the night people assume the worst."
"We're fine!" And with that she did the drunken shuffle until she was out of sight.
I went back to bed and tried to ignore the rest of the her "moving" but couldn't quite get back to sleep. It was my second night in a row with less than three hours' sleep. I can't go on like this.
I tossed and turned like I have for several nights now. I was thinking about the crazy drunken lady and whether, since I was up anyhow, I should help her move. And I was thinking about earlier that day when we got the good news.
My dad passed his final endurance test and his heart is officially strong enough to withstand the surgery that can potentially remove the entire tumor and save his life. We went to Applebee's to celebrate and my dad had a terrible episode.
He couldn't breathe and then he could and then he thought he would throw up and then he did and then he left to walk outside and we all contemplated calling 911 as we continued to watch his struggle through the glass. I cleaned up his space and wondered what they could possibly do for him that his three teams of doctors had not yet thought of. My mom finally got up and said she was taking him home. She asked who she should call if he got worse and my sister and I both said, "9-1-1" at the same time. She looked flustered as she left the restaurant and retrieved my dad.
My sister grabbed the bill, I finished cleaning up his mess then went to the restroom where I immediately began to cry. I chastised myself for being weak, dried my eyes so my sister and David wouldn't know I had let some tears fall and walked back out there. I said my goodbyes, flew my nephew around the parking lot, buckled him into his car seat and kissed his cheeks before walking to my own car across the lot.
I got in my car, plugged in my iPod but didn't turn it on. I reached for my phone and started on a few different numbers before I put it back in my purse without hitting send. What could anyone say? "Sorry you had a rough night?" "It's going to be okay?"
I cried alone and became angry with myself for doubting, for being worried. He'll get through chemo. He'll have the surgery. They'll get it all. He'll be okay.
So go to sleep...