This morning, when I came home, I was greeted at the door by Tina.
"You need to go to the hospital," she said.
I immediately became worried about one of my boys, or Infinity, or Hudson, but instead I learned that at around 12:30 AM last night, deuodatos had called and told Tina that his fiance had been hit by a car, they were at the hospital, and he wanted to know if I was ordained.
And that was the entire message.
I thought it through, wondering if I had his contact information, but even if I did, Tina said that he didn't have his cell phone. I no longer have his family's information.
So, not knowing what to expect, I prepared myself for the worst.
This is not the kind of call an inexperienced clergy-aspiring person wants to get. I was afraid that I would be in the position of having to preform a marriage ceremony "before it was too late," or give grief counseling that I wasn't trained to give. I was extremely worried that I would, eight hours after the call came in, be giving some sort of Druidic "last rites" to a girl I hardly even knew (I had met her once). I worried that their unborn child might be lost, and I might have to do a rite for a lost child. I worried most that I would have to do both, and I wasn't sure I was ready for that.
For as much as I was terrified and worried, though, I was ready to do any of those things.
My book of ready-made rituals was destroyed in the rains of ComFest about a year ago, and I hadn't started re-copying it yet, so I couldn't carry that with me. Instead, I grabbed my copy of Cei's Book of Pagan Prayer and stuck that in my pocket. I didn't know if I would need to present verification that I was clergy (I'm not yet, for those unaware) in order to see deuodatos or his fiance, but I prepared a story if it was absolutely necessary: he has called me as his clergy, and it was my responsibility to respond to that call, whether I'd been through an official ordination or not.
I arrived around 9 AM at Grant Medical Center, and asked about how to find the room they were in. I did not recall the name of deuodatos's finace, and the receptionist couldn't help me much without at least a first name. I gave deuodatos name and had him paged. Then I walked down to the emergency room to check with security there, and they directed me back, and gave me the location of all waiting rooms in the complex, which I then visited.
I was wondering how to get the room number when I called both romandruid to let her know (because deuodatos had asked about my ordination status, I wanted to talk to the actual Grove clergy) but didn't get in touch with her, so I left a message. I called Tina next and tried to get any more information out of her, and she was able to give me the time that deuodatos had called, and I told her that if romandruid called, she should give all the information she could. I was now out of quarters and could no longer call out at the random pay phones.
I walked back down to the receptionist and asked her to page again, and mentioned that they had come in before 12:30 AM last night. She paged him again, and I found a book of clergy sign-ins at the desk, and when I asked about it, I told her that he'd called me as his clergy. I mentioned that his fiance was not a member of our church, which is why I couldn't remember her name. She gave me a card stamped "clergy" and told me to use that if I ran into any flak for being there before visiting hours and to get out of the garage with no charge. She then found his room number: this was the first I'd heard of him also being a patient. Around that time, he called the desk and I spoke with him, and then went up.
I got up to his room, and he was standing out to greet me. We talked about what happened, and both of them, within two minutes were hit by seperate cars, her first and then him trying to help her. He told me that his family and her family had already both been there, and I appologized for how long it had taken me to get there.
He explained what had gone on, and told me that nothing was broken, but both of them were pretty sore. Their baby (now 8 weeks along) is also fine. We went to his fiance's room, and she was in remarkably good spirits and humour, though she was in pain.
I spent about two hours visiting all told, asked a few times if there was anything more I could do. I admit, I was somewhat relieved that I didn't have to bury or marry anyone today, but I was surprised to find that the idea, once I had gotten to the hospital, had ceased to frighten or worry me: it was something that, should I have to do it, I would simply do. I wasn't worried about my lack of credentials anymore: there's nothing illegal about helping people cross over or make a vow before their deities. I was set and ready to perform whatever function I legally could, and the laws governing marriage weren't really at the forefront of my mind.
Mostly, deuodatos and I just talked. We didn't pray, or work magic, or anything like that. We just talked. And I enjoyed it. It felt right, needed, and good. It was nothing that I was uncomfortable or weirded out by. It was, in the end, what I felt I should be doing there.
The biggest lesson for me that has come out of this, though, is that I absolutely must obtain a cell phone. I cannot be completely out of touch for eight hours just because no one knows how to contact me. I should have been at the hospital by 1 AM at the latest, but I wasn't. For those concerned, no, I'm not kicking myself for something I could never have truly anticipated: it's just a fact that I now know what I need to do that part of my job, both for the Grove and for myself.
I'm still worried about the cell phone causing me the serious issue of tying me down, and I have no idea how I'll manage to afford one (getting rid of the land line is right out for other reasons), but it's an expense that I have realized I absolutely must find a way to pay for.
I can't be unavailable for that long ever again. This sort of thing will only become more common.