I fell asleep when my head hit the pillow, but a few hours later around 3 am I awoke. My mind running an obsessive marathon took off with no return. I was reliving every damned moment of the worst night of my life despite it being 22 years ago! All of it, the helicopter ambulance, the life support, my crying and begging kids and my beloved toddler lying naked, gone but still being forced to breathe.
So, I got up at 4 am and sought comfort in the delusional thought that I might find something helpful. I went to the small old breakfront cabinet, opened it and reached around in the darkness. I grabbed his sunhat with the back flap to keep his neck from sunburn. I knocked two Matchbox cars on the floor. I also took the small wooden crucifix that the chaplain had laid next to his perfect, bald head through that night in hell. I took them into bed and snuggled into the hat. Of course it no longer has any scent of him but just of oldness and maybe dust. I gripped the crucifix tightly praying hard, desperate, pleading-for-sleep prayers. None of it worked.
I remained awake, tracing and chronicling the moments as if to torture myself eternally. And then, I whispered softly for the one-millionth time, “I’m so sorry. I’m so very, very sorry.” It has been my mantra for 22 years. I am desperately sorry, but it doesn’t make a bit of difference. I didn’t ever fall back asleep but it’s okay, because now it is the next day and the struggle is over for another whole year. This is now and that was then and I have had a had a decent cup of coffee so I move on again.