The nightmares started right after the 6 month mark. Most of them don’t include Jake, but they are all very scary and very real. The nightmares come most nights, if not every night. I wonder if they will ever go away now.
At the 6 month mark, I was a complete mess. Then, one day I woke up and decided that I wasn’t going to be a mess anymore. I made the choice to “block” everything-every thought, every memory, every scene from the constant movie in my head. Every time I started thinking about it, I imagined a gigantic door slamming shut on the memory and all I could see was the door. As any reasonable person could imagine, the “blocking” technique couldn’t last very long. After a few days, I found myself sobbing-all day long. I couldn’t stop. Hmm. I wonder why? Yet, I continue to use this blocking technique without even thinking about it. I noticed myself looking the other direction when I pass by one his pictures. If I happen to catch a glimpse of his picture or something that reminds me of him (which is pretty much everything because I still live in our home)-it literally takes my breath away and brings me to my knees.
Last weekend we had beautiful weather. I had been avoiding the backyard since last August. I would watch the kids and the dog from the window, but pretty much didn’t like to be out there. If I did have to go out there, I consciously avoided looking at “the” tree. But last weekend I went outside. It was like the tree was a magnet pulling me to it. I couldn’t stop even though I knew it was a bad idea. I stood behind that tree and I’ll admit, I went a little crazy. I examined the tree, ripped off the bark, dug up dirt and logs…and stared at it. I knew I should move away from the tree but I felt glued to that spot. All of a sudden I wanted to know more about that day. What Jake saw, heard and thought. How many emergency vehicles were here? How many people? Did they have their sirens and lights on? How fast did they get Jake out of here and on his way to the hospital? Was Jake conscious when they left? I don’t have answers to these questions. They are not important for me to know-I realize that. But sometimes, I feel like if I don’t find out I am going to go insane (I’m partially there—I get that). Eventually, something happened that got me moving away from the tree (I had to use the bathroom) 🙂 I came inside, the spell was broken and I didn’t go out in the backyard again.
This week, as we were leaving their counseling sessions, my oldest son (age 10) said to me “You know mom? I feel really terrible saying this-but I don’t think about daddy all the time anymore. I’m ashamed of that.” I hugged him and told him that was fine. However he felt was okay and he didn’t need to be ashamed or feel bad. Inside though, I wanted to scream. How could he not be thinking about his daddy ALL the time? What was I doing wrong? Jake’s pictures are everywhere, we talk about him a ton, there are memories in our face everywhere we turn….but maybe it’s because of those things that my 10-year-old son is not obsessively thinking about his daddy (the way I am)–Maybe it’s because my son is not slamming that gigantic door on the memories, that he is actually able to live his life.
I want to live my life again. I don’t want to just exist, go through the motions and obsess about the memories. Every day, I tell myself-this is the day I start really living again. I even tell other people about this–so that maybe I can’t “back out” of this plan–like I would do if I were starting a diet or something. But really, I’m just putting one foot in front of the other still. When people tell me I’m strong, I want to ask “What do you see as strength in me? Were there other options?” If so, I wish someone had told me. I probably would have chosen Door Number 2.
The “Kristen Suit” comes off when I am sleeping. Maybe that’s why the nightmares are coming. People might think-“Sheesh-Kristen is messed up. I hope she’s talking to somebody.” Yes-I am in counseling. But I often wish it was just a matter of a drug or procedure that would make me forget-forget those few days that overshadow my life and let me remember all of the good stuff instead.
Another holiday is coming up. Easter. I want to skip it. In years past, I would make the baskets and fill the eggs. But Jake would go outside and hide all the eggs and come inside and hide the baskets. Then on Easter morning the six of us would go outside and search for the candy-filled eggs (which I would throw away as soon as the kids weren’t looking–not because of the sugar–but because of the clutter!) I don’t know how I’m going to do Easter–the prep, the hiding, the finding (I’m fine with the throwing away). But shit. Why do we have to have so many holidays? Why did we ever start traditions? I hate our traditions now. But the kids still love them. They look forward to them. They need them. It’s all about them now.
“Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch-who watches over you?” One of Jake’s top songs-They Might Be Giants. Needing the birdhouse in my soul to stop the nightmares and help me start really living my life again.