“Never let your ego get in the way of asking for help when in desperate need. We have all been helped at a point in our lives.”Edmond Mbiaka
I almost didn’t take the call.
It was an Australian number, but not one I knew. And it was two in the morning here in Sedona. I thought it was that guy ringing me to sell me domain names, or the other one who is always trying to get me to sign up to a new phone plan. I was tempted to ignore it, but something made me look again.
I wasn’t asleep anyway. My nights have been too disturbed by strange dreams here, so I’d been up late reading poetry instead. Now, lights off, as I lay in a darkened hotel room on the other side of the world to where my beloved and our dogs were having dinner in our little farm house, I was thinking about poems, and words and the meaning of life, as you sometimes do when you are alone and in unfamiliar surroundings, under a wide empty sky.
I picked up my silent, vibrating phone, glanced at the number and said hello.
Hello? A little voice said. A quiet voice. Uncertain. Hello? Are you a friend of my mummy?
I had no idea who this was. I thought maybe it was a prank call or a wrong number.
Give me the phone, Elizabeth, said another little voice, and then that voice came on the line.
Hello, my name is Olivia. We can’t remember the number for when you are in trouble. Are you a grown up? Can you help us?
Two little girls, calling me from so far away.
Are you in trouble? I asked. I will try to help you. My name is Nicole. Tell me what the problem is.
Mummy won’t wake up. The little girl was doing her best to stay calm but I could hear the fear and panic in her voice.
Oh. Not good. I knew it wasn’t good.
Is there an adult close by? I asked. Maybe a next-door-neighbour?
We checked already. That’s why we are using Mummy’s phone. We just pressed it and the green phone button made you answer.
And then I knew who it was. A client, back in Australia. A woman who had recently lost her husband to a brain tumor. She’d called my number earlier in the day and left a message asking for an appointment. Not urgent, she’d said, but soon would be good.
My heart sank.
It’s alright. I can help you. I’m Mummy’s friend. You did the right thing to call me. That was very clever. Okay now you have to help me. Do you know your address, Olivia? I asked the little girl.
She told me and I wrote it down.
Okay, I said, I’m going to hang up now, so I can call an ambulance to come and help your Mummy.
Olivia became hysterical, asking me not to hang up as she sobbed into the phone.
As I sat on my bed in the dark hotel room I realised there was a phone on the desk. I didn’t need to hang up on Olivia. I turned on the lights and tried to call 000 with the country code in front on the American handset, but it didn’t work. What could I do?
Phil. My mate Phil. He works for Emergency Services in Australia. I know his number by heart. I called Phil from the hotel phone, briefly explained the situation and gave the address before hanging up. I told Olivia help was on the way, and got her to turn on all the house lights and open the front door.
I kept talking until the ambulance turned up, and then I kept talking until the police turned up. I told Olivia that she could call me any time, and to take the phone with her when people came to help her and Elizabeth. And soon, someone did come, and I told them that the girls had grandparents in the same city, and what the girl’s mother’s name was, and then woman on the end of the line hung up and I turned off the lights and lay back down on my bed.
But I couldn’t sleep.
Two little girls, four and six (almost seven, Olivia had said, because that was important for me to know), doing their best to help their mum. They’d been watching ‘Frozen’. It’s their favourite movie. When the movie finished they watched it again and sang all the songs because mummy must be busy. Then they were hungry and it was dark and when they went looking for Mum she was asleep on her bed and she wouldn’t wake up, no matter what they did. Olivia had even poured cold water on her.
Send loving thoughts, energy and prayers to those two brave little girls and their mum.
I can’t stop thinking about them, and wondering how they are. I can feel their mum – she’s still here – and I am grateful that somehow the Universe conspired to make me pick up my phone in the middle of the night and take that call.
Look after each other with kindness and compassion today. Life can be so hard sometimes, and none of us knows what someone else might be going through just below the surface of their smile.
Gentle hugs and cups of tea, Nicole xx