Strange Bedfellow

There is a profound sadness that lingers deep inside of me. It has always been there, I think. Its potency was however fostered by the tableau of traumas experienced within my chosen career paths. It is a sadness that seeps into my bones like moisture to dirt. Only it is not flowers that grow from it. It usurps its authority over me almost daily, usually in-spite of my sedition. And on nights like these, it is made all the worse…

I have been seeing him a lot recently, tonight included – the boy. The fourteen-year-old who ended his life by way of hanging. I have written about him before, in plethoric manner. But for those whom do not know; I responded to a call for help when I was working as a paramedic. It was on a hot summer’s day, much like the one that has just passed. It was for a boy whose life had ended by way of suicide. I reached his home and made first sight of him just as his sister was frantically and feverishly attempting to cut him down from the rafter that death had chosen to hang the noose. When I say that I have seen him recently, I am referring to our reacquaintance within my dreams, my nightmares. He revisits me at will, typically his. In my dreams he his hanging just as he was on that sunlit day of summer, mere feet from me. I go to reach for him, just as I had done back then, but as I do I am confronted by a juxtaposing reality – I grab onto nothing! This is usually when I wake, because the stark movement is being unwittingly played out by my lunging arms. They are in servitude to the nocturnal demon of memory. My arms swing forward to grab the boy, and when there is nothing to grab onto, the force of that failed motion is enough to catapult me into the world of the real. But the nightmare does not stop there, the boy still hangs in front of me at the foot of my bed, suspended by a rope attached to an ethereal rafter. One blink, two blink, three – he is still there – panic sets in. My breath is stolen by a painful thief. The boy just hangs, lifeless and blue. When I have talked myself into a sufficient state of courage, I lunge once more, one last effort to save this apparition of a life already lost, poof, the boy is gone… I am now actually awake…


Then comes the wave of obfuscating reality; a subsurface tingle of adrenaline that intertwines with sinew and bone, a tachypneic state of breathing and a hammering fist of a heartbeat, a reality that I am all too familiar with. Reality continues, albeit with remnants of memory – my glands betray me as they release the odious piquancy of urine into my mouth! The boy’s urine. The urine I had the displeasure of ingesting on the day that I actually tried to save him. You see, in real life, I did not miss when I reached out to grab him. On that day, my hands wrapped around his waist just beneath his buttocks as I lifted, trying to alleviate death’s grip, but he had wet himself, so I now had a face full of dead boy’s piss! It is a devil’s drink. One that revisits me at will also… and it’s here tonight…

I am writing this after having gone to the bathroom to do battle with the heinous taste, armed with a toothbrush and unwarranted amounts of toothpaste. The bristles wage war while I clench my eyes and fight against the memory. Possessing a diseased mind that marinates in PTSD, means that things like this happen to me. Trauma takes advantage of my aching brain and I am left to fight against it, forcing it back into the darkness that lives within me. I look and touch anything and everything around me so as to ground myself and prove that I am in the here and now and not back there, back then…

I am not sure that I will ever be able to accurately describe what it is like to see the ghost of a young boy hanging within your apartment while telling yourself it’s not real, even though at one point and time, it was… it is a truly intolerable thing.

I don’t sleep with a woman. What I mean is, I have not shared my bed with anyone since my divorce – five, almost six years ago, now. My bedfellow, my strange bedfellow is the ghosts of memory and lives lost. Needless to say, there really is a cold side of the bed. A baron vista of untouched blanket and pillow. I am sitting on my sofa now, lightly spritzed by a frightful sweat. I have seen a lot of dead bodies in my life. I am unable to recall the first, but I remember many just fine. What I hate is seeing them again, years after they are dead and gone. I do not choose to think of the ghosts, nor do I choose to live in the past – the past lives within me, and the ghosts live in the past – I am merely the vessel in which they travel. Try not to judge me for that, I never asked for any of it.


It was around this time of year when he died… I suppose it’s fitting that around this time of year my fragmented mind remembers. Throwing pieces at me from afar. I really did try, y’know – to save him. I worked so hard. For days after his death my muscles ached in remembrance of the numerous cycles of CPR I performed. There was even a bruise on the back of my hand. It was there for about a week. But it was all too late, we arrived just in time to watch him leave… And on the nights that he comes back, I watch him leave all over again. I even feel the back of my hand, then look to see if there is a bruise.


The boy is gone now, though. I guess that means at least one of us is sleeping. Rest easy, boy, rest easy.

6 thoughts on “Strange Bedfellow

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  1. Your immense talent for the written word is your gift back to those who have experienced loss and trauma. You have experienced so much loss in your life, and yet, with each of these stories you do give back, whether you see it that way or not . . it’s true.
    You give back perspective and an education to those who need it as well.

    You don’t deserve any of what you’ve had to deal with. But by the simple act of sharing your experiences, you’re contributing to the world rather than taking from it.

    Peace and love


  2. I never see the same person from my trauma, but many others who are in the same state, as if he sent out his brothers and sisters to me to do for them what I did for him, but hopefully with more dignity and control than what I was thrust into.


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