Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Soundtrack Of My Life

My black rubber boots squeaked on the freshly mopped floor. I hate that noise. It gives me chills, and the last thing that a person wants before she walks into the dark autopsy room is a chilled to the bone feeling.
I flicked on the light switch and took a deep breath. Working as a morgue assistant wasn't exactly my dream job. It did allow me to work while the kids were in school, and put food on the table. It was a hell of a lot better than working nights at a gas station and leaving the kids alone, or going back to babysitting. Dealing with other peoples kids was about the last thing that I was willing to do.

My second marriage had come to a crashing halt less than 2 months earlier. Geoff was far from perfect, and he never held a full time job, but at least I had the illusion of a partnership before he left. Now, I was completely on my own with 3 kids, and I could have not been less prepared. I hadn't worked outside of the home in years, and the baby was still only in kindergarten.

My sea green scrubs tugged at my butt when I bent over to pick up my pen.
'Gotta lose weight,' I thought to myself. These scrubs are so damn uncomfortable. I could never understand how my sister wore hers home all of the time. Mind you, she worked 3 floors up, in x-ray, not in the bowels of the hospital, in the morgue.

I was already sweating by the time the phone rang.
'Morgue, Bridget speaking,' I spoke softly into the phone. There was something about being in the morgue that just made you speak like that. A reverence for the dead, maybe?
"Bridget?Is that you?" My mother shrilled into the phone.

'Yes, Mother. I just said that it was.'

"Oh." Silence. She ALWAYS did this. She phoned me from her office on the ninth floor, and checked up on me.

'Mother? Mom!,' I repeated, more loudly.

"Oh, yes, I thought that I would give you a ride home tonight, if you want. I brought you some raisins, and some homemade soup from The Church Ladies."

Great. So now the damn church knew that husband number two had walked on me. 'Yeah, thanks, I'll come up and see you when I'm done. The raisins...are they same as the last ones that you gave me?' I held my breath, knowing that the answer would be yes. The last batch of raisins that she sent home for me had been hand picked out of a box of Raisin Bran. One by one. It was no use trying to tell her that you could just buy Bran cereal.

She had already hung up, anyway, the dial tone was buzzing in my ear.

Back to work.

I left the autopsy room and entered the small hallway outside. This was my least favourite part of the job. I didn't like the cutting, or the removal of the organs, or the sewing afterwards (although my sewing had improved drastically over the past few weeks, I had to admit), but THIS was the worst.

Another deep breath. There was no need to double check the chart. I knew the name. I knew all of the names of everyone that I had ever worked on. I would remember this one, too.
Hannah Grant. Aged 62, found hanging in her bedroom closet, she was a deaconess at a Lutheran Church outside of town.

I touched the knob, and waited. I had this ritual, everyday. Touch, and wait. I exhaled loudly. I didn't even realize that I had been holding my breath.
Damn.

I HATED getting the bodies out of the cooler. I had nightmares about the door slamming and locking, or jamming, and getting stuck in that cold, dark, cramped room with the dead. There was no lock on the door, inside or out, so it would never happen. COULD never happen, but I was terrified anyway.

There were only 2 bodies in the windowless room. One was a man, the other was Hannah. I wheeled her out of the hallway and into the autopsy room. I took photos of her neck,and tried not to look at her bulging eyes. I couldn't imagine what could make a woman that had given her life to God give up in such a way. It took me longer than usual to transfer her from the gurney onto the operating table.

Dead weight and all.

I cut her clothes off and made certain that all of the untensils were ready for when Dr.Hong came in. I liked working with him best. The other doctor was a friend of the family, but she was a perfectionist, and much too serious. You need to keep things light in the morgue. You have to. Working with dead people could be so depressing,and you would go nuts if you didn't joke around a little bit. Dr. Hong was my mothers boss, and she was his second in command. That made her MY boss, in a round about way. Just another reason to hate this job.

I thought about my fathers death, just 1 year earlier, and his insistence that he NOT be autopsied when he died. He died of a terminal illness we had been trying to prepare ourselves for the inevitability of his passing. Your never ready, though. Ever. I thought about how proud my Dad would be of me, and all of the bad jokes that he would tell. As a monument (tombstone) salesman, he had heard all of the jokes...People are dying to get, business is dead...yada yada, yada.

I smiled despite myself. I was proud of myself. I was proud of myself for picking up the pieces and moving on. I was proud of myself for taking on a job that most other people would never dream of taking on. (I could totally do the Quincy thing was what I said to my mother when she told me about a job opening at the morgue several months earlier.)

Life could be worse. Sure, my husband was gone, but he was a bigger scrub than the two piece sea green uniform that I was wearing. I had my kids, and I had my family and friends.

Dr.Hong came into the room , carrying a coffee. "You ready, Bridget?", he asked, squinting at my face. "I can finish my coffee if you need another minute." He walked to the stainless steel counter top and put his coffee down.

'I'm ready as I'll ever be, Dr.' I turned on the old clock radio that didn't keep time, but got three stations on it.
Tubthumping was playing, and Dr.Hong started singing along with it, off key. "I get knocked down, but I get up again......"

Ready as I'll ever be, I walked to the table where Hannah lay waiting. It was a tough job, a crappy job, but it was MY job.

And I was ready.

51 comments:

captain corky said...

I'm always amazed by your writing when you tell stories. You have a real talent Biddie.

Marni said...

That. was. awesome.

I didn't realize I was holding my breath until I finished reading.

Wonderful job.

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh Bridget.

I am so glad I told you to start a blog.

I'm almost in tears because I remember hearing about this the first time. This is wonderful. Sad. Thoughtful.

Biddie said...

~Taking bow~ Thank you, thsnk you....

Corky - Aw, shucks, I'm blushing over here...Glad you liked it. I haven't really written in ages. I almost didn't post it, cuz I didn't think that it was good enough...

Marni - (more blushing) I'm glad that you liked it. It just felt good to be writing again. :)

Heidi - Yup, it's almost true. Very close. I loved that job, and hated it.
i'm glad that you told me to start a blog, too. I should listen to you more often....

Tod said...

Biddie this is fantastic. If this was the opening chapter of a novel I would definitely be glued till the end. You really should try and expand it into something. Really.

Biddie said...

Tod - Heidi has been bugging me for YEARS to write. I have difficulty because my thoughts are usually racing, and I can't concentrate (part and parcel of my depression/bi polar).
Shawn and Jethro have been bugging me, too. I might do something with it...It seems that my 'clear' days are fewer and farther between.
SIGH.
Thanks for the kudos, though. I was thinking of you when I wrote it last night. Glad that you like it :)

Burfica said...

I enjoyed that, your writing is awesome!!! I only wish I could write half as well.

her indoors said...

you do write well girl, and you deserve to be proud of yourself. glad your sewing has improved!!!

Biddie said...

Burfica - I haven't stopped blushing...I almost didn't even post it, because I thought that it wasn't very good. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

Her Indoors - LOL. Well, it's been a few years, but my sewing did get better!

FOUR DINNERS said...

Very awesome babe.

Mind you when it started out with 'black rubber boots' I did wonder where it was going!!!

Biddie said...

4D - Glad that you liked it. I felt like writing last night, and it just flowed...

rain said...

Poor Hannah -
Loved your post Bridget. I wish my name was Bridget. So Irish, so romantic.

Biddie said...

rain - Thank you. :)
My name is Bridget Colleen, and my mother named me that because it's irish. I always hated my nae, though. I like Biddie much better.

saly said...

I think Bridget sounds so beautiful too. Sorry if my dog's name brought back haunting memories. I thought you were going to say that it was all a dream. It takes STRONG people to be able to do that!!!

Canadian flake said...

all I can say is OMG I am shaking...that post was just amazing..

I love reading your writing and look forward to more.

Thanks for sharing.

Biddie said...

saly - Nope, it's all real. Hannah wasn't her name, I changed it. I just think that Hannah is a beautiful name. It was actually a great job in so many ways, but I just couldn't do it...I tried, though..

Canadian Flake - I'm glad that everyone is enjoying my post so much. It really is easy to write about you know. I might write more, Hubby has been bugging me to.

Heidi the Hick said...

yes and Heidi has been bugging you too!

Biddie said...

heidi - yes, she has. i was going to say that :)

Dorky Dad said...

Oooh, you worked in a morgue? Cool. Is there creepy music playing in the background? Do bodies get up and walk away? Do Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones stop by regularly?

Biddie said...

dorky dad - Naw, never creepy music. Usually 80's stuff - although that CAN be pretty creepy.
Never saw Will or Tommy, but I did work with an uber creepy guy that I just called The Creepy Morgue Guy.
Shit.
That means that I was The Creepy Morgue Girl.
SIGH.....

~JJ! said...

Goodness woman. That was literally breath taking.

I can't imagine that job.

Since it's my first day here and all, can I ask if you work now, what do you do?

Suzie said...

great story.... can't wait for the next chapter.

Biddie said...

jj - Thank you. (blushing) I am unemployed right now, but I am trained as Personal Support Worker. It's spmething that I would love to do again.
I really did like the morgue job, though, most of the time. It was good money (great money, to be honest), decent hours, and I didn't have to deal with alot of people.

suzie - Thank you. My Hubby and best friends have been bugging me for a next chapter...I might try to write more when I have a good day.

Gabriel said...

Absolutely amazing. I don't know a lot about you yet, so I read avidly, thinking it was a true story. I even googled Hannah to see if the story was from here! :-)
Then I saw the 'almost true tales' label...

I loved it. I really hope you posting writing stories like this. You have just decided me to post some of mine, though they're all in Spanish... and they're mostly stories from when I was a kid that I wrote for my own little ones.

I'll add your blog to my links, so I remember to visit you daily.

--Gabriel

Biddie said...

gabriel - It really IS a true story. The story is from here, just a few details changed (MOSTLY true). I changed Hannah's name (1st and last) and a couple of minor details. The rest is completely true.
I'll add you to my blogroll, too. Can't wait to read some of your stories.
BTW, I stopped by this morning and saw the photos of your little girl at school. VERY cute!

Alekx said...

Maybe I'm sick and twisted (I have to be I'm a police/fire dispatcher) but that story has me wanting to try the quincy thing.
Awesome.

Biddie said...

alekx - Well, if you are sick and twisted, then so am I. It really was a fantastic job for sooo many reasons.
(Put Morgue assistant on your resumee, and it gets attention.)
I learned alot myself working there, and the job was NEVER boring.
I bet that you could do it.

Phoenix5 said...

Hi Biddie! Thanks for dropping into my blog! This story was fantastic! You have a wonderful talent for writing. I've been bugging Flake (who I also think is a great writer) to join an online writer's group I belong to. If you are interested, go to http://z14.invisionfree.com/B_and_N_Writers/index.php?]

Registration is free, and you'll find an awesome group of aspiring writers from all walks of life there, just hungering to read your work and offer you support! I really hope to see you there sometime!

Biddie said...

phoenix5 - we seem to be hanging out at the same places, so i thought that i would stop in and say hi.
Thanks for the kudos. I don't write very often, but i really should dust off my old notebook and have a go at it.
i just might check out the writers group. Thanks :)

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

You have an award waiting for you at my place.

Biddie said...

whimsical - Oooh! YAY! Thank you!

Palm Springs Savant said...

I re-read this again this evening and really enjoyed it even more the second time. Nice job

Biddie said...

palm springs savant - Thank you. I'm glad that you enjoyed it enough to read it twice! :)

Heidi the Hick said...

See???? SEE?????

You gotta believe me now...you've got all these other smart people backing me up!!!!

Biddie said...

heidi - LOL. That's what I love about you, you never say I TOLD YOU SO. :)

Heidi the Hick said...

nah. That's only something you say to drunks and preteen children.


One sentence a day, baby...one sentence day...

Biddie said...

heidi - just ONE, huh?

paddy said...

I'll have a lagar drink, a whiskey drink, I'll get knocked down like you just did - " I was proud of myself for picking up the pieces and moving on," no pun intended.
Absolutely brilliant Biddie really.
You've got class.
Y;-) Paddy

Biddie said...

paddy - Thank you :)
I'm just so shocked that everyone likes it.

DJ Kirkby said...

WOW! Beautifully written.

Biddie said...

dj kirby - Thank you :0)

Heidi the Hick said...

'don't be shocked, just write more.

No pressure or anything.

One sentence at a time- we can wait!

Biddie said...

heidi - working on it......no pressure, though, right?

Gardenia said...

Wonderful post. Book material. I always thought working in forensics would be so interesting. Perhaps too many Patricia Cornwell books. You conveyed so much in that post - it was like reading a short story (I mean that positively.) Women are so very amazing - how many times did I pick up my life, with little kids to boot? No help. Looking back I don't know how I did it. Sometimes I had help. Anyway, sure did enjoy this post.

Biddie said...

Gardenia - Thank you....It's funny you know, b/c it seems like I have picked up the pieces again and again....We just d what we have to ...

Heidi the Hick said...

PICK UP THE PIECES

That is the title of your memoir. Your subtitle will be "Almost True Tales."

I totally called it.

Biddie said...

heidi - well, as editor, I guess that you DO have SOME say :)

Cynnie01 said...

YAY!!!! i finally figured out my user name and password... god.. i just love getting older.
and just so you know ? i think your writing is awesome... why don't you try writing short stories at first ? they won't take as long.. i really am impressed.. i have had my blog for almost 2 years and NO ONE reads it.. LOL

Biddie said...

cynnie - Maybe when I am back on my meds, I will write more...Sometimes, when I least expect it, something sneaks up on me, and I just HAVE to write, but those days are few and far between now.
I'm glad that you're finally here. I'll add you to my blogroll. I don't wantto lose you :)

jAMiE said...

What an excellent post...thank you for sharing!

Biddie said...

Jamie - THank you! I have so much rattling around in my head, I just have to let some of it out..