12/24/16

Christmas Eve

Photo by James Donovan

Content warning: death, suicide 
December 24 has never been my favorite day for three reasons.
One, December 24, 2010, Mother Nature decided to give me an early Christmas gift. My period. It was bloody and horrible and it hurt. I knew it was going to come eventually, but why that particular day? Christmas eve was supposed to be an exciting day spent in preparation for the big Christmas holiday. It shouldn't be a bloody mess. By now, I've more or less suffered through it, and still have to survive it for another fortyish years.

Two, December 24, 2015, my bà nội  ended up going to the hospital because something happened to her heart. Thankfully, she had my dad and his brother to keep her company for most of the day. By the time the news reached my siblings' and my ears, visiting hours were already over. Little did I realize, that hospital visit foreshadowed her death two months later. She ended up dying of cardiac arrest around February. Thankfully, my family and I managed to visit her on Christmas day. That was also the last day I ever saw her alive and it was a day I'll never trade for anything else.

Three, December 25, 2015, I witnessed a suicide. I briefly mentioned it last year, however, since it was still fresh on my mind, I couldn't delve into many of the details without wanting to barf and/or break down. In fact, it's still a bit hard to write about, however, after all, the shit that happened so far in 2016, that was almost nothing. Now back to the story.

My siblings and I were at my ông bà nội's house when we heard the news of  bà nội's condition. By then, she was pretty weak. Her skin was papery thin; she wasn't talking much; she needed a walker; she had a puffy leg; she was diabetic; just got done with some kind of blood cancer; and she took a lot of pills just to survive her everyday life. So my family mourned, ate dinner, watched some movies, and talked a little bit. Eventually, it grew late so my siblings and I headed back to our hotel.* However, on the way there, we got lost and ended up hitting a homeless person who was actively trying to commit suicide. Unfortunately, our rental car was the tool that she managed to use to achieve that goal. It was scary, and I was quite numb after that, and even though I said I was fine, I wasn't.

Some context. My siblings and I were on a San Diego, California freeway when it happened. It was around ten pm, we were in the center lane, and there was moderate traffic around us. There was also a nearby hospital.

One moment, she wasn't there and the next she was. She looked like a pale demon from a horror movie. Except, there was no veil around her head. She ended up destroying one side of the car. For a moment, my older sister almost considered to keep on driving because she was freaking out and didn't know what to do. Thankfully, she ended up pulling over when she saw that a few other cars did the same. The typical happened, "what just happened?", cringing at the car's destruction, "there's flesh on your car", I started to take pictures as proof, names and insurance and license plate numbers were exchanged, someone called the police, and the police eventually came. There were two police groups that night, one group was with us and started to try to piece together what happened, the second group was with the dead body, they were a bit farther down the freeway.

When talking to an officer, he said that there's always quite a few homeless people who escape from the hospital and run onto the road. If I remember right, the homeless lady wore a hospital gown. Though I can't remember if I saw it or someone else told me. The police officer also said that there were a lot of homeless people in California, particularly in the southern part because it's almost always nice, sunny, and warm year around. And they usually gather around places of high traffic, particularly the side of the road.

A few hours later, my siblings and I ended up back in our hotel room, we (aka my older sister) started talking to a police provided therapist to help us process the night's events. And he told us that he believed there's a small spike in suicide rates among the homeless during this time of year. Because it's depressing to know that you're alone during the holidays with no loved ones around. Also, another officer mentioned that unfortunately, this was not a rare occurrence and it happened quite a few times every few months. Thankfully, my older sister didn't get charged with vehicular manslaughter because it was not her fault, it was the homeless lady's because she was in the middle of the road. A place that by then doesn't protect pedestrians, especially not on the freeway. And thankfully, there were witnesses who proved that the homeless lady did indeed walk on the freeway most likely to commit suicide.

But still it was bad, it was bad, it was bad.

*Initially my siblings, dad, and I were supposed to stay at my ông bà nội's house in National City, California, however, an aunt was also coming down for the holidays. And for some reason, she's not a big fan of my immediate family. So she wanted us out of ông bà nội's house because she "reserved" it first. But my ông nội doesn't really check his phone messages so he didn't tell us. So when we heard that piece of news, my siblings and I moved our stuff to a hotel in San Diego, thankfully still a bit close to our ông bà nội's house, while our dad stayed behind because he needed to spend the time with his dying mom. But in the end, that was all for nothing because said aunt decided to go to a hotel instead. Yay, for family drama.

Note: bà nội means paternal grandma in Vietnamese, ông nội means paternal grandpa, and ông bà nội means paternal grandparents.

And now the weather:
It's Quiet Uptown from Hamilton a Musicality Cover

~ Stacy N.

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