"Another Day" by Kevin Hale
Today I opened my eyes to the sound of the children watching Scooby Doo in the living room. I glanced at the alarm clock as it displayed 8:43 AM. I struggled to open my eyes as I had finally found sleep about 4 hours earlier. I climbed like a zombie from the bed knowing that another day lay ahead. A day of totally unpredictable events. Not events that most people deal with, but events that take place in the mind. As I slowly got dressed to walk into the living room, I stumbled and nearly fell. A direct result of sleep deprivation and the numbing effects of mood altering drugs. I walked into the living room and slid into the recliner where I tried to make my body and mind function as one unit. For the first four hours of every day, that is an excruciating task. Finally, the effects of the medications begin to fade as I slip back into reality to face the day.
Around noon, I take my children somewhere to eat lunch as there are days that I can not stomach the thought of cooking anything. We eat as they ask question after question as normal children do. My mind wanders as I see a familiar face. Sitting in the booth across the room is a woman I will never forget, just as she will not remember. Slowly I begin to recall a vehicle accident. I can vividly remember how the tires of the 1984 Ford Crown Victoria squealed as my partner and I burst through a red light en route to what had been described as a "bad" signal 6a on a 4-lane boulevard on the outskirts of town. The siren still wails in my ears. The brand was Whelen. We approach the call site and traffic is stopped in both directions. As we wheel the vehicle around traffic, I see a brown Toyota lying on it's top in the middle of the road and the bodies of four teen age girls sprawled upon the pavement in various locations. I had beaten EMS to the scene and lept from the vehicle and ran toward the first victim. She was 15 and dying. I didnt want to leave her, but I had to see the others. The second and third were both critically injured. The fourth victim was my future wife's neighbor. As I knelt, she looked into my eyes and spoke my name asking me to help. I remember at that very moment feeling like the most worthless individual on the face of the earth. I wanted to scream, "What do I do?" but kept it bottled inside. Two individuals lost their lives that day, but she luckily survived. Now she is sitting across from me in McDonalds and I feel like I am going to vomit. She does not recognize me, which is probably a good thing, but how can I ever forget her?
My children finish eating and we leave the place walking across the bridge that leads to a park with many ball fields. My son asks me a question about something and I totally go into a fit of rage about why he asks me so many questions. I instantly feel bad about my actions. How do I explain to an 8 year old boy what goes on inside my head? I begin to appologize as I realize my hands are shaking. We return home and back to the recliner where I am safe. Safe from the system that "didn't care." Safe from the bad guys, the accidents and safe from the sights and sounds that horrify me into a flash back of some terrible time in my carreer.
After many hours, the sun begins to fade behind a mountain to the West and I sit on my porch and scrape the evenings last dip of Copenhagen from my jaw. I think about many things, but mostly about the fact that it is getting dark. There is uncertainty in darkness. Such uncertainty...... The family goes in and prepares for bed and eventually drift into deep sleep thinking of wonderful things that have happened in their lifetimes, or maybe dreaming of what success they will have as they grow older. I sit in the recliner and think as well. Our thoughts are not similar, but very opposite. I think of the cruel insensitivity of human beings that leads to sexual abuse of children, rape and murder. I think of my nightly battle plan. "If one intruder comes into the house, I will slowly reach for the shotgun under the edge of the bed and kill him before he can harm my family. What if there are two? What if there is a fire, will the smoke detectors work in time. Does this Carbon Monoxide detector really work?.......What was that noise? It sounded like a creak in the floor, but what if?...................I will just sit here in the bed until I hear nothing else. Eventually I pass out about 4 or 5 in the morning."
What is that noise.................oh, that's my babies watching Scooby Doo......Time to get up and do it all again.
Kevin Hale © 1999
Disabled police officer of 13 years
Founder of Living With PTSD website
E-Mail the Author
Read some of Kevin's other stories at Living with PTSD