Fogged up and Damp

If I remember correctly it hadn’t been 3 months and I was back. It felt longer but the type of longer that didn’t make the heart go fonder. At least by the time I had settled into my stay anyway. The moments before that was cool. Getting ready for a trip no matter how tight things may be, or how uncomfortable the trip itself will be, is an exciting pass time. But like I said…then you get settled in.

Goodbye to sunny palm trees of turmoil, hello fogged up and damp well of woes. The chill of the air infused with my deepest grievances overcame me the moment I stepped off the plane. The thrill of packing for a trip was over. The measure of excitement was equal to the measure of knowing it was a “have to trip”. While the reason for the trip was being handled, yet another struggle in itself but it wasn’t mine to enclose in this blog, I had to partake in my own personal realities.

Forms and signatures. Being that I moved, they came as I came. I came and there I was. Various forms had to be signed. Forms that when signed on the dotted line closed a chapter of her life for good. Various forms that finalized everything. I no longer sign my name that way. Not sure how much of a conscious decision that was.

Visiting family and familiar faces after a tradgey…my opinion…take small bites. It doesn’t matter what stage you are in finding peace, rubbing two open wounds together can never be a good thing. And it wasn’t.

With hugs and kisses genuine enough one wouldn’t realize the CA-BOOM! that was about to occur. I knew better. I’m good for that, knowing when the slip was coming, no matter how slight the implication. The emotions were brewing and it was a matter of time. I either reminded every one of the one they lost, the one I lost or their grief brought on the ever popular yelling and the blame game. They reminded me of who I was sorely lacking in becoming or ever could be. I reminded myself of that as well. I lacked so much. I lacked the ability to deal with it. With them. Our emotions were like a can of soda being shook everyday since I was there last and now that I was back, well you know what happens to shaken cans. Drowning our sorrows, laughing and yelling through the elephant sized void we felt so deeply, we all dealt. Dealt with it all one way or another.

I dealt.

…But all the while Jesus had already won the game on my behalf, over the pain, over the anger, over the blame.

…Jesus been dealt.

As time went on

It bothered me for many years.

I never understood why I had to carry this particular burden.

The burden of memory.

No matter how selective, no matter how much consumption of the world around me, the memory was mine and mine alone.

My mother could never be a reliable witness and my younger brother’s coma caused memory loss, to this day he remembers very little. I use to think him lucky. I, not only carried the burden of remembering, but always lacked the knowledge of why. Why do the memories conceived that Sunday morning have to be carried by me? For a while I thought it was my punishment. After all it couldn’t have been a reward, right?

It wasn’t fair, I thought. I would never put this burden of the mind on anyone.  And it was lonely. It was so very lonely. The gruesome scene, which tore apart my sense of safety and shredded any happy moments that occurred in my home prior, replayed itself bit by terrifying bit on a daily basis in my mind.  My life quickly became ridiculous, to me anyway, but it didn’t matter.

The awe and newness of sunshine, palm trees, and orange farms quickly dissipated. Trying to settle in a new place and meet new people always came with the agonizing question of where are you from. And yet again another rewind of flashbacks. My overly blunt responses, “she was murdered”, became a shield. That unfeeling, guarded mask of an answer seemed to stop the flood of memories, for a while, and any further questioning of my past. Saying it and not feeling it was a great deterrence for a short while. That is until I started to feel like I was living in a much sun shinier version of Boston. The walls were brighter but closing in all the same.

So let’s get a job and party on weekends and as much as possible. We needed a job or else how would we party?

If you’ve ever heard of a functional alcoholic then you can understand what I mean when I say by the time I was truly settled in Florida I was a functional partier. The only time I felt sane enough that my  loneliness, insecurities,  fears and memories didn’t attach me was when I could drown it, smoke it, and forcefully laugh it away. What a miserable time that was.  What liars laughs can be. What dishonesty a smile hides. What turmoil dancing feet carry. She was murdered. Quick, simple truth that bear no feeling but held every emotion all at once. Most responded with  blank, confused for a moment looks. Some with, “are you serious?” I couldn’t say which I preferred. Even now. No response could have made me feel any better in all honesty. Nothing could.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

…I walked and talked through my lie, my fear-filled lie. The on point smile and just the right amount of laughter did more than just keep questions at bay. It enclosed my heart and prevented my eyes from truly seeing. He was there. All the while He was there.

…Tears form as I remember how much time I wasted in the pits that kept me shut off from my life, from my God.

…Today, gratefulness.

 

The sounds that plagued me

I thought I’d be terrorized for the rest of my days. Memory is something else I tell ya. For a while I thought perhaps I was one of those people compared to an elephant because my memory was so in tack. I realized my mind had another mind, one of its own. That mind was selective. Drawn only to those memories that rendered me a coward, jumping out of my skin at every turn at what seemed to birth a déjà vu moment. Numbing those senses was my only refuge during those in the valley moments of my life.

The crashing of pots and pans that resulted in her facial disfigurement. The sounds of feet, in haste, rushing down flights of stairs to her rescue. Rescue from what, at that  moment, we did not know. Those are the sounds that plagued me. The meeting of metal to the skull then the resounding clanging as that piece of metal hit the tile floors. The slamming of a bathroom door. The rummaging of a not so much a stranger aimlessly looking to destroy whatever crossed his path. Those are the sounds that plagued me. The shouts to go away and what are you doings spilling out from a crackled voice that was my own.

Many more sounds followed but the two that haunted me to the point of…I couldn’t speak of them were the laughter and gargling. The laughter, the sick almost clownish, empty giggling laughter of a once welcomed individual, that sound, that horribly frightening sound, followed me even as I slept. There were many horrific sounds. None however, can top the gargling. The gargling at times brought me to my knees. Not to pray but to force the noise out by squeezing my ears against my head tight enough between the palm of my hands, fighting back tears and hoping to pass out into a deep dream-free slumber. A vain attempt because I longed for dream-free rest that never came. Remove my innermost memories was my wish, my only wish, in those times. Gargling, trying to breathe through a mouthful of ones own blood. I misspoke, or mis-wrote…whatever, what tops that sound was much worse. The sound that tormented me more than the agony of hearing her struggle to breath as she choked on her own fluid of life was the sound that followed. The sound when she was unable to struggle for life any longer. So now the sounds of silence had its own torment to dish out.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers (Goretty, readers, you) whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.

Being able to put aside memories that stalked my every waking and sleeping moments was a far more difficult task for mere puffs of smoke and or gulps from a bottle could handle. But what grace. What mercy. What honest to goodness breath of fresh air it is to be able to sort through the silence and noise and hear my Jesus. He calls on to me through it all. And now, now a shower behind closed doors with my children on the other side making various noises and slamming this bedroom door and crashing that toy truck against the other, those noises are exactly what they are. Just that.

Philippians 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Back up to Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Very deep sigh. Jesus is so awesome ya. So very awesome.