Losing My Cool Over a Frozen Turkey

Proverbs 15:32

…continued from yesterday.

I knew I was depressed but I didn’t know what to do. My parents seemed to be trying hard to help me but I thought nothing would help. I knew going to the psych ward in Flagstaff wouldn’t help. I was glad when I came back home but it seemed to have been pointless and now I had two medications to take. Zoloft didn’t seem to work so I doubted that Wellbutrin would work either.

I would go to sleep early every night because I didn’t want to do anything. Then I would wake up as late as possible and get to work mostly on time. Most nights I’d sleep nine or ten hours. Every night I wished I would sleep and never wake up.

I had researched suicide methods but they all seemed too painful, and I couldn’t do that to my family and friends. I thought about not drinking water until I died of thirst but I didn’t even last a couple hours.

Nonetheless, I didn’t want to live any more because life seemed pointless. Since suicide wasn’t an option, I was stuck with my current situation but it felt like every day got worse. I was addicted to food and I gained weight every day. I didn’t want to talk to any of my friends because I was embarrassed about myself. Sometimes I would go four days without showering. I’d feel disgusting but I didn’t really care. I was hopeless.

***

I convinced Sarah to go for a walk with me one bright mid-November afternoon.

“Do you need to refill your prescriptions?” I asked as we started up the dirt road that leads around the back part of campus.

“No.”

“Really? You’ve been out of the crisis center for almost two months now. I’d think you’d need a refill by now. Or did they give you a 90-day prescription?”

“I haven’t been taking them regularly,” she confessed. “They don’t do any good. I don’t feel any better.”

Her words chilled me more than the brisk breeze that had picked up.

“Have you taken them consistently enough for them to do you any good?” I questioned. I never knew how far I should push or when to pull back. I felt responsible for her, yet at the same time I didn’t want to intrude on her personhood—after all she would celebrate her 21st birthday in less than six months.

“I think so,” she mumbled. “But I’m pretty sure they don’t do any good. I just get fatter every day. I can’t stop eating. I can’t even run any more—I’m just too jiggly and it feels awful. I feel awful. I’m failing at life.”

Her tears brought mine to the surface. How long would she have to suffer, I wondered. “What does your psychiatrist think?”

“She said maybe we could increase the dosage. But I know it’s not going to help.”

“Have you found any of those books helpful?” I asked, referring to the self-help books on eating disorders and cognitive behavioral therapy.

She shrugged and wiped her tears with the sleeve of her sweater. “I guess.”

“You haven’t read them, have you?”

“Just a few pages.”

I sniffed and wiped my tears with the sleeve of my sweatshirt. I pressed my lips together and flung a prayer heavenward. I didn’t know what to say or do.

“My friends all hate me because I haven’t answered their texts or voicemails or instant messages. They probably think I’m dead.”

I reached over and hugged her. “I love you.” I wiped my eyes again. “And I doubt if your friends hate you. They are probably worried about you.”

“Maybe.”

We finished our walk in silence. The quiet wail of the wind pushing storm clouds from the south accompanied the crunch of rocks under our shoes as our burdened hearts beat in unison.

***

“Are you still at home?” I asked Sarah. We had quit locking the doors because she had improved enough to make it to work on time each morning—even though she had stopped taking her medication.

“Yeah.”

“I forgot to take the turkeys for the food baskets to Miss Grimm this morning,” I said. “Could you grab them from the freezer and take them with you when you go to her classroom?”

“Sure.”

“There are three of them on the top shelf of the freezer. Those puppies are so frozen, I’m sure they’ll be fine sitting in her classroom until she makes the deliveries this afternoon.”

“Yeah. Ok.”

“Thank you so much!” I had carefully planned out my entire day so that I would have time during my lunch break and prep period to hurry home (we live on the campus of the school where we work) and start prepping the turkey for tonight’s faculty family dinner.

I wanted to take photos of the process and write a blog post for fellow vegetarians who might find themselves in need of advice on how to roast a turkey. I had learned from previous attempts to roast a turkey for meat-eating friends and family members that one had to defrost the bird for several days in one’s refrigerator.

When I arrived home and threw open the refrigerator doors to grab the turkey, I couldn’t find it. I ran to the freezer and couldn’t find any turkeys there, either. I grabbed my phone and called Sarah.

“What did you DO with the turkey in the refrigerator?” I yelled.

“I took it to Miss Grimm’s classroom for the food baskets.”

“I DID NOT tell you to take the turkey from the refrigerator!” My voice rose in pitch. “I said to take the turkeys from the FREEZER!”

“Oh.”

Her lack of apology infuriated me even more. I punched the end call button and scrambled through my contact list and dialed Miss Grimm.

“Have you given away all of the food baskets yet?” I asked rather brusquely.

“Yes, but there was one turkey left over.”

“Thank goodness,” I exclaimed. “Where is it? Sarah made a mistake and took the one I needed for tonight, too.”

“It’s in the back of my truck, which I parked out front,” Miss Grimm replied.

“I’ll send Sarah to grab it,” I said. “Thank you.”

I ended the call and dialed Sarah again. “There’s a leftover turkey in the back of Miss Grimm’s truck.” My words sounded as cold as the frozen turkeys. “Please get it RIGHT NOW and bring it to the house.”

“Ok.”

“I just hope it’s not one of the frozen ones,” I said, shoving a drawer shut with my hip and giving myself a bruise in the process. “It takes forever to defrost them.”

“Ok.”

By the time Sarah arrived with the turkey in tow, I had managed to slam every pot and pan in the house at least once. I had my camera out and the rub made and my temper finely tuned. I started playing it the second she walked in the door.

“I can’t believe you took the darn turkey from the refrigerator!” I said. “I specifically said to take the turkeys from the FREEZER.”

She set the bird on the counter. I poked it.

“At least the one Miss Grimm happened to NOT give away is the same one that’s been in the refrigerator for two days. I certainly hope it hasn’t gone bad from sitting in the back of her truck.” I grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed at the plastic covering.

“Do you KNOW how important this is?” My voice came out soprano. I sing contralto. “It’s not just about ME. There are STUDENTS who are coming over tonight and they’ll be hungry and expecting a MEAL at 5:30. It takes FOREVER to roast a turkey!”

I burst into tears, slammed the scissors down, stomped into my office and banged the door shut behind me. I sobbed for a few minutes and then realized how shrewish and uncharitable my entire tirade had been. I heard Sarah’s bedroom door close quietly. I couldn’t believe I had just chewed out my poor daughter—who already struggled with feelings of worthlessness. Remorse flooded me for losing my cool, and my tears poured out even faster.

“I can’t do this, God,” I wailed. “I can’t take this much longer. Please help me. Please forgive me.”

After blowing my nose and mopping my tears up, I went to Sarah’s door and knocked.

…to be continued.

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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