October 5, 2018

the deepest caverns

Seventeen years ago yesterday, my son died.  This is a fact as fundamentally built into the Universe as gravity and time.  I've written the story before, the bones of it, and I say to others that I can talk about his life and death with flippant ease.  Only the smells, the hospital disinfectant and the lavender, can floor me.

I have to wonder if I'm as compartmentalized as all that.  It makes itself heard, if it can find a way.

Yesterday I waded through the hours in a stifling buzzing-mosquito swamp of irritation, incredibly sensitive to things in my environment and not the least bit averse to hauling off and hitting someone or something, had the opportunity presented itself.  Interestingly, that didn't include hitting myself.  I also spent my work day drowsy to the point of repeatedly nodding off while sitting up.  I would walk around the building to wake up and nearly walk into the door on my way back in.  My brain wanted me to be asleep.

I'm told that in the hospital, after my suicide attempt, overdosing on sixty-two Klonopin tablets and half a bottle of whiskey on an empty stomach, they had me in the emergency room, ready to strap me to the bed because I kept ripping out my I.V. lines.  I'm told that there was a period of an hour or two when it was as though there was a long rappel from my vocal cords to the deepest caverns of my brain, when subconscious and unconscious and anything hidden by social conditioning could escape and make itself heard.  I said some embarrassing things and I honestly consider that the worst part of the whole attempt.  But at one point, I also began wailing for my son.  I was in the same hospital building where he had died, and I screamed for him, that I wanted him, that they took him away, that I wanted my dead baby, that they needed to give him back to me.  It rattled the nurses, even the one who had seen almost everything in her time.

I have no memory of saying those things in the hospital.  I can no longer access the source of all the things I said.  But I know the still-raw rending wound is in my mind, forever preserved and kept in a deep place, folded and put away like the quilted baby blanket and the tiny pewter urn and the envelope of Olan Mills portraits, so deep in the back of the closet that they rest beside the other things never meant to be retrieved.

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