Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Getting the Horror Out of My Head

Around 2:45 a.m. my daughter could not find one of her stuffed sleeping companions. She woke up and called out. Since Ellen went in earlier to deal with something else at about 1:00 a.m., I took this one. I also took it because I was already awake "enjoying" one of the worst flashback episodes in a while. Taking care of Ava gave me a five minute distraction from those awful images. If you do not want to know what they are, I suggest you stop reading now. I am hoping that by putting them here in this blog that this particular flashback does not visit for a very long time if ever again.

It all starts out when the ambulance arrives at the house and Ellen and Colin ride off to the hospital. I am left at home with Ava and the two police officers in her bedroom, and my friend/neighbor waiting in the living room to take us over to the hospital as soon as the police cease their interrogation. It is around 11:45 p.m., pitch black outside minus the flashing police lights and not much brighter inside. I am sitting on the edge of Ava's bed, holding her tight. One police office is standing about two steps into Ava's room, the other just outside the door frame. They are stoic shadowy figures in the dim light, the only thing moving was the closer officer's mouth as he asked question after question, and the other officer's hands as her wrote down answer after answer. I am crying and hysterical holding my daughter as tight as possible. The questioning goes on for what seems like an eternity until the phone rings with that fateful call. It was Ellen. Colin had died at the hospital. I hang up the phone and held Ava even closer. She is confused and terrified by the men in the house and her Daddy in tears and shock. Without any hesitation, the closest officer goes right on with his questioning. I yelled at him to get out of Ava's room. He did not budge. I yelled again for him to get the F*&# out of Ava's room…again, he did not budge. He just went on asking more questions. I yelled one last time and told him to "give me five G^*D&*#%! minutes…my son is dead!" After he and the other officer just stood there and waited for me to collect myself as best I could, they went on finishing their questioning and my friend finally got to drive us to the hospital where I got to see my wife kneeling beside the bed with our son…tube sticking out of his nose, "the red" dried down the side of his precious little face, and doctors and nurses with long apologetic faces as I walked over and knelt by the bed so that I could say my goodbyes.

After that, the flashback often gets fuzzy as if my brain has said enough already. I guess that is just an innate human protective device to only allow us to process what we can handle at a given moment. The one thing that amazes me is that the timeline of this flashback is well over an hour, but it only takes minutes to go through the entire sequence of events all over again with a clarity that did not even exist in the moments it all happened for real. I guess that is another protective thing the brain does to keep us all from going insane. The clinicians call it "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," but I take offense to the word disorder. To me it seems pretty normal to relive and thus try to better comprehend those horrific moments in any way and over any timeframe in which we need.

So, to you, my Colin…I am putting this one out there to try to take one more bad memory away in order to make more room for all of the great ones.

I love you always!


  1. I am so sorry that you keep having to re-live one of the most horrific moments of your life. I really wish there was more I could do. Know that Chris and I are thinking and praying for you and your family. Take care my friend, let me know if you need anything.


  2. I always hated that word too.

    I hate that you're dealing with these flashbacks. I'm right there with you. I don't know how to get rid of these horrible things, but I wish there was a way. I wish there was something I could do to make them better, for both of us, for everyone.

    Praying for you.

  3. The flashbacks are the worst. Even though it was over a year ago I still can't get up in the morning and go downstairs alone. I'm sure that I'll find our daughter dead. For me, I knew that Toby was dead before I even got to the room. My husband has a form of narcoloepsy and once asleep is almost impossible to wake up. His deal is that when he's watching the baby he doesn't go to sleep. I woke up and peeked in the office where we had a spare bed. My husband was asleep and the crib empty. I didn't go all the way into the room but figured that at some point that morning he had taken Toby down to my mom and then just crashed instead of coming to bed. I finished getting ready and went down to my mom. She was in bed, asleep, no Toby with her. That's when I knew something bad had happened. The house was just too still. I rushed back upstairs and ran ALL the way into the office and peered over my husband. Toby was gone and already pretty blue. He had been dead for hours. I still see that scene over and over. There are times that I would almost like to poke my eyes out if it would help.

  4. I still remember the morning of July 14, 2006--- it was clear as day- getting the phone call at 4:57 am of our daughter hysterically saying the ambulance was there doing CPR on Gabriel and then getting to the hospital and our daughter and son in law pulling back the sheet over the baby's face and seeing the "tube" and the foamy blood tinge to the side of his lil mouth --i took a long time for the nightmares to disappear- i am so sorry ypu both and others had to go thru the same--kathy in texas