They say grief comes in waves. I think it’s that when faced with overwhelming emotion, our minds turn up the background noise in an attempt to tune it out. This ‘background noise’ is the day to day - the mind-numbing status quo that can easily seem to dominate the majority of our lives. Crisis isn’t meant to be a permanent state. What happens when the trauma doesn’t stop? When you can’t heal? You get numb.
That’s not to say the numbness isn’t painful. But it’s not the pain that someone who has not become accustomed to crisis feels when their life quakes and threatens to crash down around them. There isn’t a life to come crashing down, the walls were never rebuilt. Every day you trudge through the rubble of crisis. This is your norm. You aren’t so foolhardy as to walk barefoot through this mess, you do what you can. Heavy boots protect your feet, but it doesn’t change the mess on the ground, or rebuild the walls - your hopes, dreams, goals. You are left in rubble, exposed and defenseless.
Before that life can be rebuilt around you, you have to shake off the numbness. Healing begins to turn down the background noise, and allows things to come back into focus. Reality strikes. Sometimes you take it in stride, other times it stops you in your tracks.
I got hit with one of those waves tonight. Things have been improving enough for the volume to get turned down, and tonight the depth of the trauma I’ve faced is piercing through the facade of silence. The crises of June alone humble me, and wounds I’ve carried for years ache deeply.
Before I made the decision to withdraw from University in April to move back home to recover and receive better medical care, I found myself deep in crisis. My body was a mess: every day a hurricane of symptoms, medications, appointments, tests, and pain. The frustration, the lack of answers, the growing pile of medical bills. And the stress, oh the stress. As if being an upperclassman in engineering isn’t hard enough already, add debilitating medical conditions to the mix and you will get a timebomb of a student.
Actually, what you get can be described in a single word: suicidal. I remember the night I almost gave up. My physical health was horrible, and my emotions sank right with it. Shaking violently, face numb, snatching sharp breaths between quietly stifled sobs; so desperately searching for a reason to want to be alive. Hating myself for wishing my heart would just stop beating.
The best I could come up with in those moments was my horse. Trip was there with me in Montana. I couldn’t do it to him. I had to be there for him. He needed me. Thinking of my precious companion - my rock through every struggle and hardship in my life since I was 14 - I took a single deep breath and called the suicide hotline. Then I went to the hospital, where they at least took the edge off of the physical illness.
Of course I always knew that Trip would pass away someday. I hoped he’d be old and snarkier than normal and we’d both know it was time. Losing him so suddenly was and still is such a shock. But I can’t imagine what would have happened if he didn’t make it back home with me. He waited until I was safe and stable before he left me.
As tears began to roll down my cheeks in the shower tonight, I reached for a towel to dry my eyes and was greeted with this sight: my sweet Lewis guarding me while I showered, as he has every day since I brought him home. He is my shadow. I think Trip and Misha told him he had big shoes to fill. I know for certain they’re watching over us.
It comes in waves. At times my heart is so full, and others that all-too-familiar hollow emptiness threatens to creep in. But by some good grace this heart is still beating. Good thing I have such a loyal watch dog. He protects me with snuggles as much as he does with low growls. ❤️