The adorable baby flower girl from our wedding is heading to college this year. COLLEGE. And several of our friends have kids beginning their first years of Jr. High and high school.
It's going too quickly.
In the midst of it all, I've heard stories of nervousness and apprehensions...but I'm here to tell you, it will be alright.
How do I know this? Because even through my own personal nightmare, I lived to tell about it.
It was my freshman year of college. The school was small, around 1,000 students total, so by Christmas break, everyone pretty much knew everyone else. My brother was a senior, which helped in knowing his friends on campus through the years, too.
There happened to be a blood drive that semester and I'd never given blood before. Even though I knew it was a good thing to do, as a kid, I was deathly afraid of needles. I mean like, pass out level of fear.
Now that I'm grown and have given birth which involves being stuck a thousand times, I could probably make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while getting a shot, but this was then.
I have my dad's blood, which is some rare type. He's given blood his entire life, so much so that I swear bats follow him around at night. He's always encouraged me to donate for the importance of helping others, so I decided that this would be the day.
Walking in, the sight of people lying in chairs with their arms hooked up, was enough to make me want to turn back around. Shutting my eyes, I shook my head to leave when a woman covered in the widest smile approached with a clipboard. "Hi! Come right this way." She welcomed, as though we were walking into a restaurant.
Running through a series of questions, she took my temperature, blood pressure and a series of checkpoints. With each passing minute, my pulse pounded faster, making me hope it would in someway cause them to turn me away.
No such luck.
Taking me to a lawn chair, I stretched out, wishing I was on the beach. Anywhere but here. I wondered if it was too late to turn back, but missed the chance by the time another woman pushed up my sleeve. Wrapping a noose around my arm, she popped a red rubber ball in my hand, telling me to squeeze.
Pulling out a needle, it was the size of a straw. I still think of it when I stab my kid's juice boxes to this day. She came at me, literally with a juicy juice straw and began to shove it through my arm.
"This won't hurt a bit," she smiled through the lie as I squeezed the rubber ball to the point of explosion.
Quickly releasing the tourniquet from my arm, I looked down and realized it was done. The blood was flowing, the needle was secure and she was already pulling her gloves off to go in search of her next victim.
"Hmmm. This isn't so bad." I stupidly thought to myself and for the first few minutes, it wasn't. When the room started to lift, however...I questioned otherwise.
Coming back to me, the woman with the rubber gloves checked my bag o' blood, then checked on me. "Oh." She worriedly said, giving me a once over.
"Oh?" I questioned.
"No, no. It's fine. You just look a little, pale."
"Pale? What does, pale mean?" I shifted, feeling the room spin.
"No, it's fine, sweetie. Let's just take this out and get you over to the other side."
"What's the other side? Am I done? What's the other side? Is the bag full?"
"No, it's not full, but we need to get you over there."
"If it's not full, will they still use it?"
"No, honey. But it's okay."
I couldn't believe I was going through all of that for nothing. "How much more until it's done?"
"Until the bag's full?"
"Not much. You're almost there."
"Then do it. I'm fine, just get it all."
With a worried look, she pulled back from my arm and sat beside me while I took deep breaths.
I pumped the ball trying to get the blood to rush faster as I watched her focus on the bag. "You're just about there." She said as she readied herself for the needle.
A few moments more...and it was done. She quickly pulled the needle from my arm when blood splattered all over me.
"Oh! I'm sorry!" She jumped as I looked down to see. Trying to sit up was the wrong thing to do. My stomach went to my throat and my head was light and dizzy.
For some reason, I caught a glimpse of one of the cutest guys in college walking by. He was a senior and he'd never spoken to me, but he was staring at me like I was on display at the zoo, making my nerves pound even more.
"Please don't pass out. Please don't pass out." The mantra ran through my head as a small group began to gather. "Can somebody come over here?" Rubber gloves lady called in the troops.
"She looks green. Has she eaten?" Another rubber gloves questioned.
I hadn't. I hadn't had anything to eat or drink all morning, but I was suddenly glad because as much as I felt like I was going to hurl, I prayed there was nothing in me substantial enough to do it with.
"Get her over there, now. She needs something in her." Snapped the clipboard lady.
A table of donuts, cookies, brownies and juice awaited. On any other day, I would have hopped from plate to plate, giddy with excitement. Not this day. It all looked horrible as my shaky legs found a seat while another woman fixed a plate.
"You need to eat. Here, drink this, quickly."
Putting a cup of juice in my hand, I tried to take it. One sip was all there was, until it all came crashing down.
Bending over, I begged for the puking to subside, but when the woman grabbed a trash bin and started yelling for help, I knew it was over.
It was like an exorcism. Vomit filled the room as she scrambled to get the bin under me, but it was too late. I covered everything. I puked like I'd never puked before. Crowds of people stumbled to move away, grabbing onto each other for safety.
Mortified and smelly, I finally finished only to look up at the wide stares at my vomit, blood covered self. With tears in my eyes, I simply got up to leave, wanting nothing more than to crawl into a hole and die.
I'm quite sure the next ten people in line when I passed on my way out, quickly turned and fled, but I didn't care to explain. I just wanted to go to my room.
Years passed and it became more of a funny story rather than a nightmare, until my senior year of college, when it came back to me.
I was a cheerleader and it was the Homecoming football game. Remember that cute senior from freshman puke class 101? Yep, he was back. He had still never spoken a word to me, but there he was, handsome as ever, walking with some alum during the game.
Stopping right in front of us, he made eye contact with me, causing my heart to stop.
"It's you," he grinned, as I raised a pom pom waving in return.
"You're the one..." he continued, causing my throat to dry, disallowing me to speak. He'd never acknowledged me, not even once, but now...
Leaning to one of his buddies, he motioned to me, "When she was a freshman, she threw up more than anyone I've ever seen. It was everywhere. Puke and blood all over. Beyond awesome." He smiled as though he'd just revisited one of his favorite college memories, while I...well, I lowered my pom pom and moved backwards, never to see him again.
The good news is, I went on to meet the actual guy of my dreams and so far, three of our four kids have literally puked, IN SCHOOL, right in front of their entire class. That's not actually good news I guess, but at least I was able to hold our children tightly with a story to let them know everything would be alright.
SO, on this first day of school quickly approaching, whether it's kindergarten, college or grad school...know this. Even if there's a bad day, a horribly awful, blood covered, puke in front of the whole school and a cute guy kind of terribly bad day, you're going to get through it. I promise.
And the best part about it, is every other day after that, won't seem so bad at all. XO