I didn’t realize the streams of dark liquid were blood. Maybe it was because Daddy was in a shadowy area in his garage, or maybe it was because my mind had begun already to mercifully stop processing reality. My thoughts had reduced to a crawl. I didn’t see the gun hidden in a sock laying a yard or two away from his body. It must have jumped from his hand when he shot himself. There was no exit wound from his head because he had used such a small bullet. Thinking he had perhaps had a massive stroke or heart attack, I didn’t know he had shot himself. I saw the dark streams as motor oil. Slowly, looking at his body, I wondered what he had been working on before he died.
It bothered me that I hadn’t recognized something as vital as his blood. That first night at home in bed, I tried to explain to my husband how guilty I felt that I didn’t know it was his blood. The words howled out in such rushed anguish that the bedcovers twisted around my body. I had seen my father’s blood rolling away in rivulets and didn’t know it. If only I had of known, I could have tried to scoop it up. Surely, I could have done something!
Afterwards, if I saw where someone had poured out liquid on to concrete, I felt queasy, a sick pounding just under my heart. My ribcage would widen-out in fright. I worked, then, at an automotive dealership. Seeing oil or some other dark liquid on the concrete was an everyday occurrence. I felt I couldn’t get away from the sight. Even the habit of tossing out the last few swallows of coffee from my cup when I got out of the car took my mind right back to that moment.
I had developed a phobia of dark liquid. I felt no one would understand, so I only spoke of it once in a support group. I cried so hard that I lost my breath. I didn’t speak of it again for nearly a year. I wrote my thoughts and fears in a journal where I felt comfortable crying in private. Thankfully, that intense fear of liquid being dashed out on the ground subsided. I’ve since learned that no matter how much I think to the contrary my mind can’t hold itself in an extreme state of fear forever.
The thing about fears is that they always seem to have a source of origin. The truth is fears are wider and taller in the shadows than they are in the light. Put them in the light.