by Jane Miller
I have reached a conclusion. I need to spend the month of December in a place with no boats. No cars. Nothing to trip over. Nothing to remind me. Somewhere warm. Flat. And safe from dangers past and present.
Despite exhortations not to revisit the past, sometimes the Past has other ideas. The phenomenon of “anniversary reaction” is real. The clinical description reads like a field trip into my brain. As the anniversary approaches … return of restlessness and fear … response to unresolved grief resulting from significant losses … anxiety, anger, nightmares, flashbacks, depression, fear.
Monday, was it just Monday, I couldn’t read the small print on a label and was engulfed by a wave of fear, panic, pain, and loss that hurtled me back to the instant of the fall. The pain was fierce. The loss complete. I couldn’t breathe. As the phone rang I tried to pull myself together enough to answer Erik’s call.
I cried and cried, and tried to explain, all the while saying “I’ll be ok. I’ll be fine.”
“It’s ok, I’m here,” he said, but the problem is that he isn’t here. He’s there. And I, the one who hates to be alone, feel more alone than ever.
He talked me back from the ledge, though, and we ended the phone call with smiles and a sigh of relief.
How do I continue this story? It’s surreal.
I was in a car accident Monday evening.
I had taken Jared to pick up his car at the shop. We were driving carefully home, having agreed that we would take 82nd to I-205, then make our way in the slow lane to Exit 10. No hurry. We were almost there, practically below the exit sign, when the brake lights on the car in front of me lit up. I came to a stop behind him. The vehicle behind me (a Chevy S10) did not.
I saw the headlights in my rearview mirror, but there was nowhere to escape. Bracing for impact, I felt my head and neck snap back and forth as I was thrown against the seatbelt restraint and back into the headrest. Trembling with fear, my head and neck burning with pain, I desperately tried to see who hit me.
Please, where’s Jared? Don’t let it be him. Let him be safe. Please.
I started to cry when I saw his car pull slowly past mine as he made his way to the shoulder.
A call to 911. A call to Erik. Texts back and forth. State troopers. Paramedics. My history of a cervical discectomy and fusion at C5-6 and the pain I was experiencing meant a trip to the ER. A cervical collar. Struggling to breathe. A gurney. An ambulance.
I am crying as I write this. It was all too much the same.
X-rays and a CT scan. No acute fractures. Bruises. Soft tissue damage. But nothing to fear. A list of symptoms to watch for in hand and three hours after the accident, Jared and I made our way home to Matt and Dasher. So proud of Jared as he kept in contact with Erik and Matt, documented the damage to both vehicles, and talked to police, medics, and doctors.
Tuesday was spent in a sloggy whirl of contacting tow companies, body shops, my insurance company, the other guy’s insurance company.
The night was no less disjointed. After only an hour or so of sleep, I awoke with a start. Sitting bolt upright in bed, I called out to Erik, only to realize where I was.
And here I am. Awake. Sore. A headache creeping up from my neck. I’ve tried to sleep on my left side. Nope. Right side? Not happening. Back? No chance.
I glance at Dasher pretending to be asleep beside my bed. Jared is at work. Matt is downstairs. And I am alone with my insomnia and my thoughts.
So many changes to end up the same.