Last night, after the funeral had passed and knowing that the next day held a wedding in store for the family, I met several of Jaclyn’s family members over at their hotel for a drink at the bar. We hung out for a while but, as the crowd started to dissipate, I decided to make a stop before heading back to our Airbnb. Located less than a mile away from the hotel, The Old Toad — my favorite pub in Rochester — seemed like it would be an easy place to duck into for a quick drink before turning in for the night.
And by quick, I mean roughly 35-40 minutes. I arrived around quarter after 12 and, knowing that they closed at 1, left around 12:50. And in that time, while I was kicking back a scotch, someone else was outside boosting my car.
The first stage was confusion. I walked up and down the block a few times, wondering where I had parked and wondering how I could’ve forgotten so quickly (I hadn’t had that much to drink, after all). Next came disbelief, which was the point at which I returned to the pub (about an hour later) and admitted that I couldn’t find my car. This was also when I called the police. After calling Jaclyn to let her know where I was and that the car was missing (around 2:00 AM), that’s when panic started to set in. Although I wasn’t fully admitting it to myself yet, deep inside I knew the car had been stolen.
More importantly, everything inside the car had been stolen. Most anyone who has ever been in any of our cars will likely tell you that we don’t leave a lot of stuff in there. Actually, given the facts that we were on a road trip and had driven through the snow, our car 1) was largely filled with empty drink bottles and food wrappers and 2) far filthier than usual — not exactly enticing for thieves, I would think.
But what was inside? Miles’s car seat. And stroller. And booster seat. And toys. And blanket. Whoever did this didn’t just steal our car — they stole my son’s stuff. As I reeled from everything on the car ride back to our Airbnb (the officer gave me a lift) and again as I woke up this morning, all I could think about was what they had taken from my son.
I’m really not the type of person who gets upset when ill-fated circumstances are completely beyond my control. I’ve learned to accept what I can’t change and focus on being solution-oriented. And had it just been the car, maybe I would’ve been able to sustain that mindset. But because Miles was specifically made to suffer as a result of the theft, I just spiraled. What could I have done differently? What could I do now? How could I have let him down so much?
Of course, all of those lines of thought are intertwined with irrationality, which set off a potent and lengthy anxiety attack. Jaclyn’s family was supportive throughout the ordeal, with her cousin bringing breakfast for us, her aunt and stepmom delivering a new car seat this morning, and Andrea and Scott shuttling us around most of the day. And yet, the one place I found true solace, the only thing that let me know that things were going to be okay, was Miles.
When I finally walked through the door around 3:30 last night, Miles was wide awake and he immediately turned to me, grinned from ear to ear, and started laughing, like we had been playing a game all night that I was only just returning to. This morning, he picked up right where he left off, smiling and playing with me. Blissfully ignorant? Sure, but who can argue with bliss?
As for the car, we’ll replace it. Same with the baby’s stuff. As several family members pointed out today, I could’ve been there when it happened and gotten injured. And what if, God forbid, Miles had been present? The reality is plenty awful, but the alternatives are far worse.
I have my family. I’m safe, and they’re safe. The rest will work itself out.