Visiting my mother after Daddy’s suicide was more than difficult. I varied from extreme emotions of fear and anger to numbed-out feelings of procrastination and passivity. I forced myself to make those trips. Driving there, I couldn’t count the number of times I wished she would sell their home of nearly a half of a century. Nothing seemed changed to me. She said that wasn’t true. She was right, too. Mom had repainted the house, had changed the household into her own place. Still, for me, the house was stained with unthinkable memories.
After we had found my father’s body, the police asked us to wait inside Mom’s house while they roped off the garage with yellow crime-scene tape and waited on the coroner. Mom and I sat and just looked at each other, speechless, helpless. Then the medical examiner came and pronounced his death as a suicide. Screams spilled out of the both of us. That was when her livingroom furniture became stained from my own drowning emotions. Days, months, and years later I tried not to sit in the same chair anymore when I went there. I tried not to look at Mom out of the same corner of my eye. I tried so many ways to avoid the lapsed silences when our eyes would meet, for me, in that one great memory. When I went there constant, nervous conversation poured out from me in that room, along with arguments, cut-off attempts of answering the ‘why’ question. Or I sat white-knuckled with the same trapped-fear I have in a dentist chair. Many times, I cut that trip so short it broke off into the quick of both my mother’s heart and my own. For a long time each and every element of my mother’s house, as well, sometimes as my mother, filled me with dread.
Many times I took my dog with me if my husband couldn’t go. They distracted the demons lurking in the furniture while my mom and I laughed. I was not aware when the dreadful feeling subsided, but it did. It honestly did. She and I have strived to retain our love that had always been influenced by Daddy in one way or another. I didn’t lose a relationship with my mother just because I wanted to hide from the memory-stained furniture.
Feeling the feelings of post-traumatic fear and dread is worth the effort.