Pictures of my father entered my mind, uninvited. Thoughts of his blood invaded everything. They swept through my every action and camped out in my dreams. Day or night, asleep or awake, it didn’t matter. I was suddenly emerged, pre-soaked, and never rinsed clean. I had bloodstains on my mind.
I obsessed. How long had he been thinking of killing himself? He started clearing away everything around his house nearly a month before. Had he also planned on killing Moma? He really could have, you know; I believed it was on his mind. He had tried to throw away her tomato cages as if she wouldn’t have another growing season. But Moma gave Daddy a hard time about throwing her gardening supplies away. So he put them back.
“What in hell’s name were you thinking?” I cried out in my sleep enough to wake me. Had he planned on me finding him? He knew I was coming to visit. He knew that I usually came looking for him. Did he have faith that I would take care of things for him?
How long did I suffer from traumatic stress? It was a long time. I longed for just the grief of missing Daddy and not being stuck on how he died. Counseling helped, although I have had uneasy feelings that tap me on the shoulder still.
Finally, I could pinpoint when the lessening started. In a dream, I didn’t raise that garage door; I didn’t go in calling out his name. In my dream, I chose not to go in. Waking, the dream left me feeling rested. Perhaps that one particular dream was the first real scabbing-over of my heart.
Raw grief hurts so much. It does get easier. It takes a while. Look to your dreams.