Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Acclimatization and shock

I love my son, but I hate this grief.

I don't want to be the one crying in a group of people, I am tired of facing things that hurt. I don't want to have to think about ways of gradually acclimatizing myself to stuff that makes no sense to fear (or hate) to any other person that has not lost a child or that did not lose my child under the same set of circumstances.

For the past four months I have been frozen in place. Sometimes literally when I just can't make myself get out of bed. There are times I hold on to things I would have normally pitched without a thought, I keep a receipt in my purse because it is for overalls and clearance infant swim trunks.

 At times I want to be frozen in place because I do not want to move further away from my son.

At times I hate it. I don't want to be here in this limbo land.

I struggle with it. Fight to make myself do anything when I want to do nothing. I try to pretend sometimes that he is here with me so I can do the things I would have normally done, it works sometimes and other times I spiral down.

When I see the sun peaking through the clouds and the blossoms breaking through on his tree, I can feel a small thawing. The daylight makes things seem less bleak. But I dread the cold I fear will come calling, unexpectedly to try to kill tender shoots.

It is like finally climbing to the top in a rickety wooden roller coaster without seat belts, only to look down again and realize that sometimes climbing higher just means you can fall back further.

But if you don't climb, you know you will always stay in that pit searching above for glimmers of light. And its a frightening place where you begin to question everything, even the rope that sometimes dangles that might help you out.


So how do I acclimatize? What sort of things am I talking about?

I guess one would be the drive home from work. First I made my husband drive on the interstate when we were headed west towards home, and I would feel my hands grip my legs in the passenger seat as I approached mile marker 24. I was still off work, and he did this a few times.

I changed my cell phone ring so if the phone rang it wouldn't necessarily trigger memories (and even then I told my husband not to call me on the way home after my first shift back).

The first shift home I got off at exit 31, the next at 24, and took 41A the rest of the way in. I stopped at his 'hideout' first, one so I wasn't coming home to a place without him, and two, so it broke the drive further up.

Now I can finally drive all of the way in, and sometimes I do not stop there in the morning. I still tense a little at 24, but nobody would know.

Another example is station 4, but in particular the treadmill in the weight room. It is the station I got off of that day and I worry that I might have been running on the treadmill when my son passed (Perry was crying when I called Chris and I was waiting for him to call me back while I ran, after he put Perry in his pack n'play.)

I first starting running again at the Y in Clarksville on the treadmill. When I went back to work and I would go to four for various reasons, I first dropped stuff off at the door. One day when I was running the mail and the engine was out, I braved the inside and made myself go and look in the weight room (nobody was there so it was safe to react however I needed to). The first shift I worked there, I forced myself into the room but used the elliptical. The next shift I used the elliptical and then finished up with a brief walk on the treadmill. Last shift at the end of the elliptical, I walked for 30 minutes on the treadmill and finished up by doing a short run. I wasn't planning on running but it felt like the right time.

It probably all sounds crazy, but I have an incredibly horrible memory to deal with.

Other people do it as well, they just don't know it. There was another firefighter at work, whose son was in a bad car accident (but lived). He admitted that he had avoided that road for quite a while until some time had passed.

I sometimes think of shock as the minds way to unconsciously acclimatize, and my methodical planning as a conscious way to deal with the aftermath in a similar manner.

Shock is your mind not allowing you to take in the enormity. It makes you concentrate on small details you can handle so you do not face the whole truth that will shatter you. It is cleaning the chicken coop and worrying about the guest room on the day you find your son dead. It is the man who asks you if he has time to walk his dog as you load his dying wife in the ambulance.

And I guess maybe it all allows you to move forward, even if gradually, at a pace you can handle, so when you fall a bit, it will not be from too far a distance. But I worry about the day all the shock will fall from me and I face it all head on... I am not sure if I have yet. I hear stories of the fifth month from other women, of screaming in the hallways for babies that are no longer there.

And it frightens me.

1 comment:

  1. oh Katie. I scream for you. This was hard for me to read. I am unsure why other than I continue to try and put my mind around the enormity of it all. You are doing so well in my opinion. I can totally understand your fear of a back slide. Some where along life someone came up with the saying 2 steps forward one step back. I wish I could offer a guarantee of catching you on the way down. I can't but I can pray that you don't slide too far. I can pray that you don't hurt yourself on the slide. I can pray that as the leaves come out on his tree that you see the greatness of his short life. I can pray for peace. It doesn't seem like much or even enough. We pray.