A few moments ago, I rose from my pillow. My eyes wide and piercing. I navigated my gaze through the dimly lit ambiance of my room to remind myself of where I was – home. My breathing was shallow and panicked. My chest thumped from the inside, my heart was racing. Moments before, my eyes were closed, and I was at rest. But then, as if from no where, I began to hear the faint sonorous sounds of a woman crying. It started deep within the back of my ears, and the grew louder, and louder, until eventually prying my eyes open mercilessly. I was now awake. The crying had stopped. I knew exactly who it was, and where it came from. It was an echo of the past. It was the sounds of a bereft and inconsolable widow, crumpled to the floor in grief beside the man that we just could not save, her husband.
It was on a cold winter’s night much like the one I am waking up in now. A deep and relentless chill permeates the walls and even through the thickest and coziest of sweaters. On that night in particular, there was indeed the aforementioned winter’s cold, but there was also another chill that hung heavy throughout the air – death. We were standing in a cramped hallway of a quiet and loving family home. A body lay at my feet, and a despondent woman next to it. Next to him. Crying. Sobbing. Muffled sounds of anguish and pain sang out from his body as she wailed into his chest. These were the sounds that punished my ears just now. A nightmare, and a cold winter’s night.
I removed myself from my bed of memories, and went into the living room and sat quietly for a little while, collecting my thoughts as well as composure. It’s a lonely thing, waking up from a nightmare. A dream that only you can have…
On nights when this happens to me, there were times where I would pick up my phone, and text my mum. ‘Hey mum, you up?’. Sometimes she was, and sometimes she was not. On the nights that she was though, I would press the call button, and await the familiar tone of my mother’s voice to answer. We would talk about a great number of things. Some good, some bad. I would tell her if I had, had a nightmare, but I would spare her the details. She would not be able to understand anyway. Hell, can anybody? It brought some sense of comfort. A pushback against the loneliness and isolation that PTSD can burden you with. It was nice. I think we all like to know we can turn to mom, or dad, every now and again, no matter how old we become.
But tonight, as I sit in my chair, phone resting beside me, destined to remain silent and dormant. And the person I want to call, I cannot. They cannot answer. So, it is just me, and the ghostly echoes of the past, along with the chill of a black night’s winter air, and the reminder of death. I am not a widow, but I am a bereft son. So, I suppose in a way, I too am crumpled on the floor, wailing inconsolably.
It’s funny how a fractured mind can work; this month, the month of Christmas, a time of jubilation and life, is a mere month after my mother’s unexpected passing. It holds so many reminders of why I wish she was still alive. And next month, the month of new beginnings, is a month that holds another reminder. Another reminder of death. Greg’s death. Greg’s suicide. Another unexpected passing. There is nothing jubilant in death.
So here I sit, the sounds of the past in my ears, and reminders of pain all around me. The loneliness has no pushback. Not this year. She is gone. My dear ol’ mum. Not perfect, but the only one I would ever ask to have, and the one I miss oh-so terribly much.
I suppose if there is one thing that I would like to say to the lady within my ears, it is this: I hear you. Believe me, I hear you…
(If tonight had a theme to it, it would be this):