For the longest time, sirens in my parents' neighborhood gave me the flinch, the quick panic. Because maybe they were going to our house. It wouldn't be the first time.
This hadn't happened in a while.
I went running in my parents' neighborhood earlier today while my mom hung out with the boy.
There I was, running along, all in my head, and suddenly I looked up and noticed a fire truck and ambulance across the street. Someone was being loaded into the ambulance on a stretcher.
Which gave me that cold all-over body feeling. That adrenaline. The throat close. The icy fear.
I lived this too many times.
And when I came down from that, it made me realize the following: I no longer flinch when the phone rings.
Because for years - and I mean nearly a decade - when the phone rang, when it was my parents' number, I would jump.
In January of 2001, after 13 years since my dad's last suicide attempt, my phone rang at 7 am. As soon as my mother said hello, I knew what she was calling about.
And at some point along the years, I realized that starting then, every call evoked the spring-into-action reaction. We started to have a mental checklist, a macabre routine of sorts. Call the police. Call the credit card companies. Call the friends...
It took some months after my father's death for this readiness to wear off.
I couldn't even tell you when it happened. I don't know if it faded slowly, or one day just walked out the door on its own without saying goodbye.
But it did. And I have to say, it's a relief.