“It’s like a sauna in here.”

Robot hand holding disintigrating clock

I’m missing my brother, Steve.  He didn’t wake up after his fourth open-heart surgery in Rochester, MN.  It still hurts to think about the time surrounding his passing.  The year following was the saddest so far.  After that, I was able to function externally without weeping.  It’s been over a decade since, but it still feels like I left my life for that year.  I was a shadow and grief was my only sound.

The following year my mom died from colon cancer.  Two years after that, my little sister, Heather, passed unexpectedly.  Then my dad died several months later.  It was a rough five years, I’m sure.  Right now, I can only pinpoint the moment when my brain decided protective measures were necessary to maintain equilibrium.  I call it the Numbness Effect.

The moment is a mental audio file, now.  It’s the sound of a surgeon telling me he can’t cure my mom’s cancer.  I also remember my mom waking up and asking for me like she had a nightmare.  It was just before Thanksgiving, and my heart fell out of my chest and plummeted to the center of the earth.  Then all the things that were poking at me suddenly ceased.  The tag in my shirt, the bright lighting, the odors, and all the sounds.

I felt lots of things but wasn’t able to identify them.  It was as if they were too far away for me to see them with my crappy vision.  But mostly I felt numb and empty.  The place where my heart used to reside kept threatening to become a vacuum bent on sucking me up into nothingness.  I honed my automatic-pilot abilities to a micron-thin edge.  It was much like my final year of military service, only the university edition.

I’d make an excellent human robot.  Unfortunately, there’s no joy in it.  I won’t do life without it.  I enjoy making a little bit go a long way, but there has to be some.  I think this is a consequence of reading voraciously and observing more than participating.  And overthinking, but I haven’t discovered a non-invasive means of turning off my thoughts while maintaining the ability to turn them on again.  (I learned the hard gross way NEVER to perform self-surgery.)

We ordered in Chinese food for dinner.  The delivery was by someone I went to school with until junior high.  He was a combination of Owen Meany (from A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving) and Chucky from Child’s Play.  I was utterly fascinated by him: his voice, his cauliflower ear, and his coke-bottle glasses that were always filthy.  He seems to be a neat adult, unsurprisingly.  He remembered me.  We talked about Steve for a bit.  They were friends until he passed.  It was nice to see him.  I wish I didn’t tell him I thought of him recently, though.  I suspect it made it weird.  (I sucked at hiding the fact I was fascinated by someone in elementary school.  Pshhh.  I probably still do.)  😂  I’m off to color with M.


2 thoughts on ““It’s like a sauna in here.”

  • “Right now, I can only pinpoint the moment when my brain decided protective measures were necessary to maintain equilibrium. I call it the Numbness Effect.”

    I like this, it describes what I have felt (or not felt?) for several years. It would be nice to find the off switch for this effect! That was a lot to go through for you, and it totally makes sense that would happen. It’s like the emotional part of the brain just burns out…

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