It is still morning, right?
This song kept me up most of last night, rolling around in my head and building a plot. I’m not sure I can write the story that goes along with it, because it’s one of the saddest things I think I’ve ever created. It touches on things that really scare me, takes me back to moments in my life better left in the past.
Few things truly scare me, but one of them is losing my father. I’m sort of numb to any other major loss, but even thinking about the day that I lose him cuts me every time. Even now, as I write this, I can feel the burn in my nose. I keep blinking because if I don’t, my vision will be completely blurred. He’s my own personal superhero – the one that I can always go to when I need a problem fixed, the one that makes me feel better.
The fear, combined with the knowledge that one day he won’t be here, is absolutely crippling.
That pain is what I feel when I listen to this song – a deep, empty ache that moves any time I try to pinpoint it. It’s a raw place on my heart. It reduces me to a blubbering mess in a matter of seconds. Less than seconds, actually.
The idea for this story isn’t exactly about losing a father… but about loss (in the final sense), grieving, and recovery. And with each new image that meshes into the outline in my head, it pulls another hurtful, painful part of my past back.
This time two years ago, my husband was sick. Very sick. I mean sick to the point where I was waking up every few hours at night just to make sure he was still breathing. Then in September of that year, he went into the hospital. He was there for a week, but it was the scariest week of my life. I slept a total of 6 hours in eight days, and spent the vast majority of my time on the road between here and the hospital in Rock Hill. I would spend the days at the hospital while they ran tests, poked and prodded him at regular intervals, and kept him confined to a hospital bed. Then I would go home when he finally made me leave at night, and after taking care of the teenager (feeding her, helping with homework, making sure she was ready for bed) stare at the walls in the house until I finally passed out from exhaustion, only to wake a few minutes later in the middle of a nightmare.
On Wednesday of that week, my mother came up to stay with me. I still didn’t sleep, but at least I wasn’t driving up and down the roads alone.
Rooster still doesn’t believe me that he was really that sick, but I know. I lived through it with that dead weight in my chest. There are still times, even now, that I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and reach out for him just to make sure he’s still there, but I’m a lot more stable in the belief that he isn’t going anywhere any time soon now.
This story idea takes that hollow ache of fear, and adds to it the weight of terror. The knowledge that no matter what you do, it’s out of your hands. Then it compounds that state of misery by adding in the driving need to cling as tightly as possible and not let go. Ever.
And then there was the day that my Aunt Connie died. It will be eleven years in July, but it still hurts like hell. I miss her every single day. It’s a wound that still hasn’t healed, because the edges of that wound are coated in regret.
We were close – her house was my second home.
I was young when she first got sick, so I got scared and I pulled away from her. I was old enough to understand what was happening, but too young to realize that I needed to cherish that time. I just didn’t want to watch her die.
It was another seven years before she passed away. That was seven years I could have spent with her, telling her how much I loved her. Seven years I won’t ever get back.
I can’t tell her I love her now, because she isn’t here anymore. I lost that chance, and I live every day of my life with that knowledge. I still love her, and I still miss her. While I don’t cry every day, I do think about her.
So now I’ve added in a good, unhealthy dose of regret to the mix of emotions in this story idea, and I have the perfect storm of pain. I also have the trapped soul of a flawed man trying to make things right.
It’s going to hurt to write this. I know that. I’ve accepted it. Now I just have to make myself do it.