Monday, July 27, 2015

Sunburned Heart

July 27, 2015

It was on this day 4 years ago that we said goodbye to my niece Megan.  She would finally have some peace.

Almost 3 months prior, she lay sleeping in her bed early one morning.  Her father, who adored her for her 20 years, succumbed to what I can only believe is some sort of untreated mental illness, and beat her in the head with a baseball bat.

I know, it's hard to imagine.  You may even stop reading this, as the thought is unbearable.  Especially if you are a parent.

She lay in a coma for a long time, disfigured, unrecognizable except by her pretty purple nail polish.  She fought hard, she was a fighter.  A terrible infection.  Unimaginable injuries.  Many surgeries, including some that removed much of her brain tissue.

She was taken off life support and was let go.  Except that stinker hung on for 2 weeks!  I told you she was a fighter.  There was a sense of peace when she finally passed away.  Although as strange as it sounds, there was a part of me that still imagined she could recover.  She may never be the same, but we could all help care for her.  I thought I would be more relieved to know she wasn't suffering anymore.  But the finality of it was hard.

So, as you can imagine, this changed my family in ways too numerous to count.  In ways we are still discovering.  Therapy for me and my children has been very helpful.  But this is etched in our lives now.  It's a part of us.

Since it's been 4 years, and life goes on, there have been many times when I don't think about this every single day.  Almost every day, but sometimes I am going along with my busyness and I forget this wound is there.  It's like a sunburn.  It doesn't always hurt every minute, but you forget it's there and scratch it and BOOM you feel the pain.  I was feeling pretty normal awhile back.  No disturbing images in my brain of how Megan looked after this attack.  I was in even Pontiac, the city where her first hospital was.  Where she went to the ER and then stayed for about 2 months.  I had driven by here a hundred times since then and was fine.  But this one night, Brad had a band gig near the hospital.  We were driving home, and he drove a different route near the hospital.  I have no idea why this affected me.  I had a breakdown, sobbing.

Then there was the time we were going to binge watch The Walking Dead.  Violent TV shows have not been a good idea for me since this.  But it's zombies, right?  Totally fake!  I can take it.  Well, episode 1 starts.  I am not loving the gore, but try to stick with it.  Try to be normal.  Most of America watches and loves this show, I tell myself.  Then out comes the hero to fight off a zombie.  With a baseball bat.  He raises it above the zombies head.  And I hyperventilate.  Run upstairs sobbing, barely able to breathe.  Poor Brad, he was just at a loss.  He kept apologizing.  He just held me until I calmed down.  Needless to say, I have never seen another minute of that show.

There are so many times when someone jokingly says something about beating someone with a bat.  I know you may not believe that, but it's true.  They don't mean anything by it and have no idea about my sunburned heart.  It was fine a minute ago, but you just scratched it unknowingly with your words, bringing those images back up in my brain.

It's 4 years later, FOUR FREAKING YEARS.  And I cannot LOOK at a bat without thinking about this.  Our daughter plays softball on a special needs team.  And every single time someone picks up a bat, I am imagining what happened.  The force it would take.  The fact that it was his beloved daughter.  I mean, I try to be normal.  And I truly enjoy her games.  I get in the car, not thinking about Megs, drag my chair out to sit and watch.  And there goes that damned sunburned heart, getting scratched and hurting.

I would love to end this post with a nice little thought about how healed we all are.  But.  That will have to come later.  I pray it will.