Deathoughts

August 4, 2009


Five years ago, a young couple—friends of friends–died in a freak car accident while traveling to their 4th of July vacation spot in Asheville, NC.

Their three-year-old son lived. I remember being blood-curdlingly horrified by the story.

The woman had once been a teacher at The Redmont School, where Marley was attending preschool. That was the extent of our connection–two degrees of separation.

I worried for their son, bargained with fate to undo what had been done, obsessed about the unfairness of it all.

And finally, I spent several hours in bed, paralyzed with fear about what could befall my own children, seriously considering never taking my family out into the world in order to protect them. Then I realized that even at home, an airplane could fall from the sky and hit our house, or a meteorite could pulverize us anywhere on earth. The realization that I am not in control hit me hard that weekend.

So it seems funny to me that I haven’t felt a similar horror in the face of Mike’s death. And somehow, the fear for my children’s safety has vanished as well. Instead, something like a baseline numbness, and occasional bouts of rage and heart-piercing sadness (especially for Marley and Avery) punctured my days, until the past 6 months or so.

These powerful feelings come less frequently now, but they still do come. Oftentimes when I least expect it. I’m damn well not “over it.” I would not be who I am today had this not befallen me. And I am here. There is no getting over me.

It is painful to think that people have likely felt the same horrified feeling about me and my family as I felt about the couple killed in the car accident.

I often wonder why my first thought upon seeing Mike’s lifeless body was “I’m going to survive this.”

No emotion. Just that simple fact. And the numbness.

Somehow, I kept functioning. And stopped feeling. Crying seemed to simply be a physiological function, rather than an emotional one. My heart was frozen.

Perhaps this is not dissimilar to the time in 8th grade, while I sat on a school bus and someone had the brilliant idea to light an M-80 and throw it out the window. Except they missed the window and it blew up on the bus.

It was so loud, I literally didn’t hear it. The explosion was too powerful, too close. My friend Gwen and I poked our heads out of the bus windows and screamed. I remember seeing her face, mouth agape as she yelled. But I heard nothing. For several days I couldn’t hear out of my left ear. Then it started ringing, and finally, my hearing slowly came back, although I swear that ear does not work as well as it used to.

Maybe I couldn’t feel the horror of Mike’s death because it was just too close. And only now is my heart thawing. I feel deep love for my children again after feeling nothing for a long while. I feel love and gratitude toward friends, family, Flash.

Genuine heartfelt feelings.

There were times when I wanted to touch with the pain in my system, in order to flush it out and get the process over with. And yet I felt nothing. But pain did come of its own accord. Like the tide, in and out.

Ebbing. Flowing.

The closest I’ve felt to horror was last fall as my personal fortunes tanked along with everyone else’s. Despite the fact that I was a widow of only one year with two young children, trying to hold together two businesses without my spouse and business partner, while watching the stock portfolio I was living off of shrink twice as fast as it should have , I was no longer seen as a special case. I can’t tell you how many times I heard versions of “things are tough all over” when I tried to describe the panic attacks that hit me throughout the fall of 2007 and made me an insomniac for weeks at a time.

Somehow, in January of 2009, I gave up all illusion of control. I began to feel again. And I fell in love.

I still don’t make nearly enough money to cover even my basic expenses, don’t know how to revive my businesses, don’t have any job leads, and my resources continue to dwindle.

But things are so much better. Things are getting clearer. Its been nearly two years. A long time to stumble in the dark.

So I felt great sadness and compassion when I heard about the unexpected death of the husband of a friend of a friend today.

Not horror.

Hopefully, at some point I can help her in some meaningful way. Perhaps this is why I write .

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