I am sad today. I am. And despite popular, stigma laden counter-speech, it is okay to admit that. It is okay to let all of you know that that’s what I am feeling. In fact, it’s necessary. Vital, even.
For two mornings in a row now I have been awoken by horrid manipulations of reality that forgo the passage of time. I come-to from what I thought to have been rest, only to be confronted by the stark contrast of reality at what I am doing. And what I am doing is performing vigorous sets of CPR to the centre of my lifeless pillow. This is not an act that I perform with willful cognition. It is born of that nefarious twist in reality and set loose to wreak havoc by order of my wounded mind. It is the left overs of both memory and nightmare. It is my new reality.
To me, before my right mind had returned, my pillow had taken the shape of a nine-year-old boy. And that nine-year-old boy is without breath. He is without life and it is my duty to breathe that life back into him. And I try, God do I try…
My hands planted firmly at the centre of his small chest, pressing down and then up, up and then down. A staccato of desperation. This is a waltz with, the Reaper. A sick dance of life and death. A dance where both parties try to lead.
As my mind began to return the reality of present to me, the boy’s image began to fade, and his ribs turned into fluff from beneath my clasped hands. The boy was gone. Only my pillow and an obfuscating embarrassment from within remained.
The sad honesty of all this is that this boy was not born from twisted imagination. He was very much real. Real at one time. It was a boy that I responded to when working as a paramedic. He had gone swimming at one of the community pools in the city’s north end. And by some form of sickening happenstance, he drowned in front of his parents and peers. When we arrived, the lifeguard was trying to reverse the grave reality of it all by ravenously performing chest compressions – poorly, but rapidly.
My partner and I took over and it was now my hands pressed atop of this boy’s damp lifeless body. The burden of responsibility to bring him back was now mine. But we couldn’t. I couldn’t… the boy was dead. Dead beneath my hands.
As dead as my fucking pillow…
At some time during my slumber, my aching medic’s brain found this little boy in the box of traumas that are hidden away within the cellar of my injured consciousness. The little boy then transposed himself atop of my pillow and I relived his demise and my failure. One compression after another, he just slipped away.
I pressed so hard on his chest that I could feel his little ribs pop from under my hand. My pillow was now mocking me with that same sensation.
As the boy’s image drifted from my pillow and into the ethereal unknown, I am kissed by the reality of a new day and it says, “good morning…”
Hell of a way to wake-up.
So, that’s why I am sad; because for the past two mornings, I have not been greeted by a lover’s embrace, I have instead been shaken by a ghost of a soul that I could not save. I wake beside a dead kid!
good morning, Matt…
The sadness will dissipate, I am sure of that. But I think it is normal to feel sad over something like this. I mean, a dead kid as an alarm clock? Fuck me…
I have been proactive in my pursuit of normalcy for the day; I have been out and gone for a walk and gotten a tea, sat by the water and even defended my breakfast sandwich’s virtue from an amassing army of indolent bees. I am trying. But, the universe also appears to be trying – trying to thwart my procuration of, “normal.” I say that because when I was out in the bustle of the city traipsing aimlessly along my way, a trigger was gifted to me by the orchestra of my megalopolitan surroundings – sirens. The sudden initiation of an ambulance orating to life came violently without warning from in behind me. My body instantly returned to, ‘medic mode,’ and readied itself to do medic things. A simmering scorch of adrenaline flooded my veins and I began scanning intersections to, clear the way, for my partner and I… my body thought we were working. This always happens when there is an unexpected invasion of sirens to my ears. My body remembers what it’s like to have to respond… even if there’s no where to, respond, to.
This is what PTSD is like. Well, this is what PTSD is like for me, anyway.
I am okay, though. I have settled since all of this has happened. I have changed my shirt and composed myself enough to write this, to speak to all of you. I have even found a funny movie to watch on Netflix.
Days that start bad do not have to stay bad. This is something that I am learning.
The boy did not survive, not back then and not this morning, but I will. I am. One day at a time… that’s all any of us can do.
Have a good one, folks. Thanks for reading.