Every time something bad happens, we tell ourselves things, we tell each other things. Everything happens for a reason. It was all part of God’s plan. God never gives anything you can’t handle. How could you have known? At least she didn’t die. It could have been worse. If you had taken her to church, this wouldn’t have happened. If.

It could have been worse. How. Because I’m not planning a funeral right now?

There is nothing in any of these statements that gives a person traumatized by a horrifying situation anything to cling to. It’s nothing more than a vain attempt to regain control in a situation that has spun precariously and disastrously out of control.

And the only thing to do is accept the circumstances as they are.

Rachel continued to lay in her bed in the ICU with the tube in her throat after her eyes fluttered open and I could see there was somebody in there. There was a sort of agony, distress in her eyes. With the tube, there was no talking about anything. It would be swollen for a while.

Another tube had emptied her stomach of its contents.

She was thirsty. She felt like the tube was going to suffocate her, and kept jerking her face and throat like she was choking. Someone found a notepad and a pen so she could write what she wanted to communicate. She was weak, unable to grip the pen for more than the few seconds it took to scrawl a name. It was illegible.

I went to get some coffee from the hospital coffee shop, walking in a daze.

“How are you doing today?” the barista asked me. My mind went blank as I tried to formulate a response. What am I supposed to say when people ask that question, again?

“Fine, thank you,” I mumbled, struggling with my wallet to pull out my debit card. As I walked the corridors of the hospital with my coffee, searching for a private place to quietly cry. I was tired of crying in the bathroom. I dissolved into tears in most of my moments alone. I couldn’t bear to cry around anyone else. People who knew were kind and sympathetic, saying things like, “I can’t imagine what you are going through right now. I’m so sorry.” Over and over again, drumming incessantly through my mind, pulsating.

It’s just as hard to know what to say to someone in a crisis as it is to be the person in crisis trying to figure out how to respond. I can’t tell people this is not the first time we’ve been through this, this episode is just the worst one. Every time has been different. Every method has been different.

“The only reason I’m alive right now is because I don’t have a gun!” she screamed at me once, with such intensity and an air of defiance, I mentally calculated how difficult it would actually be for her to obtain one. That was during outpatient hospitalization try number two.

“There’s nothing I can do to save my daughter’s life,” a friend said to me once about her own child with similar proclivities. “I had to accept that.” How. 


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