Mercury is in Retrograde.

“Mercury is in retrograde” said the tattoo artist to his assistant as I sat on his chair waiting for him to put permanent ink on part of my body.

What does that even mean?

“It means that for like three weeks weird shit happens that you just can’t explain. Mercury is in retrograde.”

I felt the chills, as the hair stood up on my arms. Mercury is in retrograde, I thought to myself. Could that be the reason I’ve had so many universe moments lately? Because mercury is in retrograde? Isn’t Mercury like not even a planet anymore?

See these weird things have been happening to me lately that I’ve chalked up to be “universe moments”, the strange occurrences I haven’t allowed myself to think could be the workings of a “god” or spiritual being, so I’ve called them “universe moments”.

At first I thought nothing of it when suddenly almost every patient in a months time had been dying on me. I thought it was that weird “people die in threes” phenomenon just maybe on steroids, and somehow it was happening to me.

I’ve been fortunate in my almost two years as an EMT to not have witnessed/experienced much death. I’m considered a white cloud at work, not much crazy follows me. But lately I’ve found myself comforting patients and family members, one after another, as their loved one has been given a shortened life sentence. I figured it was just a weird coincidence. And then this week I lost my first patient.

It wasn’t what I was used to, me taking family members and their loved one home so they could pass in the comfort of their own peace, (I feel a special honor when I get the privilege of doing this. Even though it’s been an overwhelming amount of these calls lately, I still find pride in getting to help these families home.)

But instead of hugging loved ones and wishing them well, sending my condolences, this week I walked out of the ER and was left with a feeling I’ve yet to feel before. In fact I’m not sure I even know how to describe the feeling because it’s something I’m certain I have yet to experience. It was a certain frustration at the universe I’ve never known. A certain confusion with the universe I’ve never known. It was a certain feeling of helplessness I’ve never known.

And then I found myself 24 hours later in a car with my best friend discussing my feelings on my day prior. I told her about the “universe moments” I’ve become all too familiar with. And then I told her something I’ve yet to really talk about with anyone up until recently.

I told her about the 41’s and how after my friend passed away five years ago all these people that knew and loved him started to see 41’s appear randomly in their lives. (This was his football number.) It became an odd comfort to them in their daily lives, a reminder he was still around in spirit.

I explained that I have a hard time believing in spiritual things after having gone through his loss. I talked about how I felt silly that I was so angry about having not seen a stupid number, and that how it bothered me that in the 5 years he’s been gone I’ve never seen a sign.

This is something that makes me mad at the universe. How was I supposed to have faith that he, and the patient I lost were somewhere better, when I’ve never seen a sign? And then as I moved my hand to the radio in the car to change the music station there it was- a 41 on the screen. Plain as could be. My jaw dropped and I laughed as I wasn’t exactly sure what emotion I should feel inside. Another “universe moment”.

I changed the subject quickly to avoid having to discuss what had just happened. Out of habit I opened up my email and scrolled through the messages. Amongst what seemed like a million spam emails was one from the paramedic program, informing me I had been accepted into the program. I screamed at the universe in my head. “You have got to be kidding me” I thought.

And then a couple hours later I found myself sitting in a tattoo shop in Cleveland. I picked the one with the most stars. I wanted it to be done in Cleveland so it had the sentimental reasons attached to it, because yes I am that person. I found myself in conversation with my new found tattoo artist Jimmy. We were talking about Mercury in Retrograde. And then he asked the breaking bread questions, what brought us here, what are our plans while here, how did we become friends etc. Jane and I explained we met at work and are EMT’s on an ambulance. Then he opened his mouth and said “I’m a paramedic”. And at that moment I’m pretty sure my mind just exploded.

Mercury is in retrograde? Mercury is in retrograde.

I laugh because not too long ago I saw a meme that said something like “my girl said mercury is in Gatorade”. I thought it was hilarious because I knew it was referring to the phrase Mercury is in Retrograde, but what that meant I really had no clue.

I find myself sitting here, it’s the end of the work week which has left me with a handful of time to digest and process all that has happened lately. To try and understand where my feelings and emotions lie. But all I can really come up with at this point is this: Mercury is in Retrograde. I can’t tell you what that means, or how it’s supposed to make you feel, or if it’s even true. But I’m holding on to that because it’s the closest thing I’ve got at this point, the only thing I can find to explain the unexplainable.

Because at the end of the day, I just don’t know. I don’t have the answers. I don’t know why people die in unexpected tragic ways. I don’t know why we can’t save everyone. I don’t know why some people get luckier than others. I don’t know why we don’t all see the signs. I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. I probably never will.

So for now it’s because Mercury is in Retrograde, and maybe after that it will be because it’s the year of the Stink Bug.

I’ll hold on to the things I can find to explain the things I can’t.

Because the explanations are what keep me going. I need a reason to believe it wasn’t all for nothing.

Because Mercury is in Retrograde, and sometimes life sucks, and sometimes it’s really beautiful. “Weird shit happens”.

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