In memoir class, our most recent prompt was Anticipation. Besides Carly Simon and Tim Curry, anticipation is one of those ill-defined things or maybe it’s too much of a word to be definable in a real linear way. I do know that anticipation is a good thing. It is a thing, or event, or something that is expected with bated breath, fun or happiness are just around the corner, and it’s I can’t quite touch it, but it’s almost here, and the closer it gets, the more the heart races and the breath quickens, and it could be as simple as the bloom of a lilac tree or something as monumental as a wedding day or the birth of a child. Or a great vacation.
This week was full of those expectations, anticipations of special days and family fun. Memoir class, Ascension Mass, Cinco de Mayo, May the Fourth, Captain America: Civil War movie, Free Comic Book Day, Mother’s Day, even a sleepover and meeting my son’s girlfriend.
The other side of the coin of anticipation is that waiting, that expectation of, the bad, the b-side of anticipation that we assign a different moniker to: Dread.
Dread. The anticipation of something not so good. Still heart racing, breath quickening, but in all the bad ways. Waiting for test results, the waiting room of the dentist’s office, this year’s election (although I’m happy with my choice), and Saturday, May 7th for myself and a few people close to me and a few I will never meet.
Five years ago, May the 7th was also the first Saturday in May. It was also Free Comic Book Day. It was also the day before Mother’s Day. We were out going from comic book store to comic book store. That year, we went all the way to Greenfield Center to a comic store that is now on Broadway in Saratoga Springs just to see the Batmobile. My kids sat in it, and pretended to drive. This was especially thrilling to my middle son who is a real Batman aficionado.
We pulled into our driveway (sans Batmobile) for a moment to regroup and set our dinner plans when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but instead of ignoring the call and letting it go to voicemail, I got the feeling that I needed to answer this one. We all have those moments, that little moment of knowing but not knowing, that moment of dread. An unfamiliar tone of a familiar voice. A full name instead of a nickname. The serious voice that told me instinctively not to lead with where the hell have you been, I’ve been trying to reach you all day, and the sound of a hitched breath, of dread.