Life check

There are a lot of memories for me today… 5 years ago today was the last time I heard Tim’s voice. It was the day that I decided to take him to the hospital, and he never came home. I wrote about this a bit in my letters: A year without your Voice and Another year without your voice.

Today, I want to reflect on this past weekend. I chose to go out to Vegas with my 3 best friends from college for a reunion weekend and an all day Music fest: Lovers and Friends. I know that everything is a risk. Especially these days, with covid (less life-threatening thanks to vaccines) but still rampant. Especially, because we live in America.

My friend Anne was ready to go before the headliners, so we walked her to the gate and told her to get an Uber not the bus back to her hotel.

Shruti, Stacia and I went back in, to the main stage area for TLC (which was awesome). Next up was Usher, Ludacris and lil Jon on the main stage. It was a break so we sat down on the ground. There were a good number of people around us also sitting down. There was DJ music, so medium loud but the three of us were chatting. I was beat. Closed my eyes a few times. Trying to think if Stacia and I could convince Shruti to leave before Lauryn Hill, because it was a long day standing on blacktop that was hotter than the surface of the sun and I was whooped. All of the sudden Shruti says “Get up! Get up! Get up!” I look back and see a wave of humans coming at me in the dark. Shruti grabs Stacia, Stacia grabs me, I grip my water bottle and hat (which I ripped off my head) And Stacia for dear life and RUN! People were ducking and running but very little screaming. It was so scary but the crowd was so NICE! Everyone who touched me was gentle like they didn’t want to hurt me but wanted me to know they were there/ to move forward. We rushed towards the stage and ended up near the front, Shruti pulled us to side thinking of getting trampled and we ended up near a security gate to the VIP section and people started jumping it. No one knew what was happening but there was a buzz of possible gun fire. (Because we live in America) I strained hard to listen. It was absolutely terrifying. I’ve never been in a situation like that before. I managed to be afraid both of getting trampled and of being shot at the same time. People were trying desperately to stay together with their people, and also move in the right direction, and keep each other safe. Stacia started shaking with repressed sobs and I nearly lost it too. I immediately thought “I cannot let my children be orphaned because I wanted to go to a concert.” Somehow this steadied me. I knew I had to keep my senses sharp and remain in control.

When we got to the fence, Shruti struggled to get over it and people helped her. When we got over into VIP we were able to head towards a VIP exit but still no one knew what was happening. But we were ready to get out! We got back to the hotel where we parked, and asked security for first aid because Shruti’s foot was bleeding. Some random concert goers stopped and had bandaids, gauze etc in their clear plastic bag. Stacia and Shruti had some things in a locker, that we will never see again but thank God Stacia had her car keys! (She also had my sunglasses and I had everything else I brought, phone, wallet in my skirt pockets.) It took a long time to get out of the garage but we eventually made it home to Stacia’s house. While exiting we heard Usher and realized that they kept playing! But clearly, we were done.

The music was absolutely phenomenal, but it’s definitely my last festival. That’s not a risk I need to take. Earlier in the day, I thought the heat was the big drama. I will always hold close that in the heat of the moment, Shruti saved my life.

In all things, I wonder #WWTD. I know he’d have understood my desire to go. He’d have wanted me to see my friends. He’d have encouraged it. I went out to Vegas with those 3 when I was very pregnant with D in 2016. I am a person who knows deep in my bones that no matter what precautions you take – tragedy can strike. That even when you marry a man with excellent family history, who takes little to no risks, follows all the rules, avoids tobacco, drugs, motorcycles, firearms… you can get hit with a perfect storm of nearly unbelievable disease and he can die at 37 years old in the prime of his life.

I live in the balance between carpe diem and which risks are too much.

I came home today. I held my babies close. I told them the story. I held HIS babies close.

I reread tonight Another year without your voice and I am reminded how much I’d want to share not only our children, but this world we live in with Tim. I watched one of my friend’s husband’s respond to what we went through and I saw Tim. This, remains so true today:

I’d want to tell you about the disappointing things going on in our country and in the world… I’d want to hear your outrage – not because I want you to be upset, but because it always inspired me, and because I’d know there was one more white male in this country who GOT IT.   I’d want to tell you what has happened with me, with my work,  ask your advice, report on friends, with other family.. well, I’d want to tell you everything.  But you probably wouldn’t let me get to it if we were short on time.  All you’d want to hear would be our children. I wish you could see them now!  I like to believe you can.  I wish we could see you!   I guess I do.  I see so much of you in them every day.   No matter what, you live on in us.

Another year without your voice

On the very same day that I experienced this, in Buffalo, NY, a city that my Tim loved with his whole heart, from his camp days – experienced a terrible white supremacist’s massacre in a super market in a predominantly black neighborhood.

The terrifying experience made me realize just how much I need to appreciate my life. It is, of course, a thing I should have learned 5 years ago when Tim’s took the craziest turn. But all of the things I worry about daily can be reduced to nothing when you consider the sanctity of life. May we remember that, appreciate it, and fight for it always, not in cells that are growing as a part of a woman’s body, but full, live humans of every race, religion, orientation, gender identity.

May we all offer each other every day the same love, grace, and respect I experienced from the Lovers and Friends festival-goers of May 14, 2022.

Author: marybethgaige

Mother. Sister. Daughter. Widow. Friend. Worker. Lover.

2 thoughts on “Life check”

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