Friday, November 25, 2011

Shaken, Not Stirred

Ever had a nightmare so profound that you can't shake it off? I've had many, leading me to such rational acts as telling my father not to go to a certain store for a week, and freaking out whenever he wore a certain shirt. Last night's was one for the books. The kind where you wake sweating, feeling nauseous and fairly certain you've been crying, and for the rest of the day you're on edge, praying nothing happens and afraid to do anything, lest it turn out to be real after all.

Warning: Parental Fear Trigger ahead.

The realism didn't help any. I was sitting in this very house alone, my grandmother in physical rehab, during Thanksgiving break, and got a phone call that my daughter had died. She'd been in a horrible car accident and a piece of iron had gone through her eye. Of course, countless times during this nightmare I got visuals of exactly that, of my child screaming in terror, and I was shattered. My child, one of my best friends, my favorite pet, my life's work, something that will never happen again in my life, gone. Just gone.

I was stricken with grief. I didn't want to live anymore, didn't want to eat, and sometimes I was in shock, like I'd just blink and she'd walk through the door. In fact, part of me insisted it had to be a nightmare, and I'd look at the door, knowing she was about to come in, but she didn't. There was no closure, and I couldn't handle it. I couldn't see her again, it didn't feel real, and how was I supposed to go looking for a job when I my world had just died?

And I was still alone, but more alone than ever. My family was worried, but nobody did anything, as always. If you don't talk about it, it goes away, except for me it wasn't going away and it never would.

I was told I should move to the city and try to get a job, now there wouldn't be anything holding me back, and all I could think was I don't care if she was 'holding me back,' I don't feel free, I feel lost. I had the thought that I could finally move to California, that I'd never have to see my ex again, but if I expected to feel relief, I didn't. What if I did move? I'd be living with someone who has a child of her own, a daughter only a year younger than mine. Could I handle it? Would envy kill me? Self-pity? Would I get attached to someone else's child in a sad attempt to replace my own? Could I live with that? Would I ever be a functional human being again?

I didn't know, and I don't know. I woke sweating, nauseous, and spent, and I've spent all day dreading the possibility that my phone might ring, despite knowing that it didn't happen. When I walked into the kitchen this afternoon, I looked at the door, listening for her, and I knew she wouldn't come in. She's due home Sunday night.

I should have called my ex to talk to her, and for a while it seemed like the perfect solution, but I didn't think of it until nighttime, and at this hour, I'd be leaving a shaky-sounding voicemail begging to hear from my daughter in the morning. My ex doesn't return my calls when he has her, though. She doesn't call, and that would be infinitely worse than just trying to make it through the day, just reminding myself that even if the memories of the dream feel as real as any other memories I have, none of it happened.

I still feel sick and exhausted, I don't want to drive anywhere, and I hate that anything that takes my mind off it is only temporary.

So one time, at the cheese factory, someone walked up to me in my new hoodie, and without preamble, cut the ties that pull the hood tight because we weren't allowed to have any loose items or jewelry above the waist. So I clipped a stuffed turtle to my belt loop in protest, and no one ever said a word against it.

I made that damn turtle a raincoat out of an empty bag of latex gloves, and it worked with me for over a year. Yes, I've told that story before, but I told it better this time.

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