Wednesday, March 16, 2005

trapped in the dark

cold . . . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . cold . . . . . . . . . swirls . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . silver . . . . . . . . . . . swirls . . . . . . . . . . noise . . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . . .cold . . . . . . . . . . hear her calling . . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . swirls . . . . . . . . . . hear her . . . . . . . . . . . . purple . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . swirls . . . . . . . . . . hear her calling . . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . noise . . . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . . . .purple . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . nothing . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . . . . .hear her . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . . . nothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . hear her yelling . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . can't see her . . . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . cold . . . . . . . . . . hear her yelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . can't see . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . scared . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . . . noise . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . purple . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . yelling . . . . . . . . . . . scared . . . . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . . cold . . . . . . . . . . . . hear her . . . . . . my name. . . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . . . purple . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . scared . . . . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . hear her . . . . . . . . . . screaming . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . . . . scared . . . . . . . . . . . . . . can't see . . . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . screaming dad's name . . . . . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . . . . scared . . . . . . . . . . . . can't see. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . purple . . . . . . . . . . . . swirls . . . . . . . . . . . . . screaming . . . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . shaking . . . .. . . . . . . . . yelling . . . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . scared . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . . her screaming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . shaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . loud noise . . . . . . . . . . . . . dad yelling. . . . .. . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . hands . . . .. . . shaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . scared . . . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . yelling . . . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . can't see . . . . . . .. . . . . purple . . . . . . . . . . . . . . swirls . . . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . .. . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . shaking . . . . . . . hands . . . . . . . . . my name . . . .. . . . . . . pulling . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . . . . . her crying . . . . . . . . . . . . shaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . scared . . . . . . . . . . . . daddy . . . .. . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . shaking . . . . . . . . . talking . . . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . . . . roaring . . . . . . . . . . squeezing . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . . talking . . . . . . . . . . . . shaking . . . . . . . . . . . . running . . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . leaving . . . . . . . . . . crying . . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . motor . . . . . . . hand . . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . riding . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . .my name . . . . . . . shaking . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . . . . squeezing . . . . . . . . . . shaking . . . . . . . . . . . talking . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . running . . . . . . . . dark . . . . . . . . . swirls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . purple . . . . . . . . . . scared . . . . . . . .. . . . daddy . . . . . . . . running . . . . . . . . . . . yelling . . . . . . . . . hands . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . crying . . . . . . . .bright . . . . . . shining . . . . . .. . . . . . . scared . . . . . . . . . . . hurts . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . bright . . . . . . . . . my name . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . purple . . . . . . . . . . . black . . . . . . . . . . . . .

i haven't had the dream very many times, maybe 8 or 10 times in my life, and i only lived it once, but it still scares me. gives me the shakes and makes me sweat, followed by goose bumps -- the ones that tell me that i almost died and remind me that i'm not invincible. that's tough, too, as i like to think that i am. or maybe not think that i am, but more like just not acknowledge that i'm not. to just pretend that life will go on and on without an end.

that day started off just like any other day on my parent's farm -- play in the milk barn before breakfast, wash up, eat breakfast, clean up the table, pack lunch and head to the field. this was a better working day, though, as we were working at stella's house. i loved her just like a grandma, but she let me get away w/ more than my grandma did. stella couldn't hear well and she was very forgetful. that meant that she often forgot that she told me not to do something already, several times, so she would just tell me again. it was like a never-ending period of grace as i never reached the point of getting in trouble. i wasn't used to getting very many warnings from others before i had a firm reminder on my butt, but not from stella. well, when we worked at stella's house, i didn't have to go to the field that day but could stay in the house w/ her. i was so excited. it was like being on vacation. we watched tv, ate m & m's, colored, slid down the stairs in a box, drank koolaid, played w/ play-doh, and just had lots of fun. well, i say that "we" did, but it was really just me doing those things. but it was still lots of fun and it beat another day riding in the tractor or sitting in the truck.

i was all excited to stay w/ stella, but after i got over there i found out that she had a dr. appointment and was gone to town. that changed everything, as i was too young to be left in the house by myself. i had to go to the field w/ everybody else. just another day like any other day, i guess. everyone else was working on machinery and getting ready to go to the field as i went off exploring on my own. i didn't have any real responsibilities unless i was told to do something. mostly i was just expected to stay out of trouble. out behind stella's house, there was an old brick brooder house, a storage shed, and a huge forest. in my adult life i see that the forest wasn't so big, but back then it went on forever. it looked very much like the large, dark forest that hansel and gretel got lost in. it was dark and scary. i didn't like to go out there because the stickers hurt my feet. i didn't wear shoes and my feet were pretty tough, but i still didn't like stickers. i knew there were ghosts in the brooder house, so i wasn't going in there any time soon. i didn't like to be scared. i was searching for something else to do. nothing is worse than having nothing to do!

parked out near the trees was an old tractor of dad's. it was the only tractor he had that used gasoline. i liked the smell of gasoline and always tried to stand close when someone was using the tank at home to fill something up. it tickled my nose to smell it and it made waves in the air when someone was putting it in the tank. kind of like heat waves coming off the highway, but just waves over the tank. everyone who worked around our farm knew i liked the smell of gasoline. it was no secret, but it had never been a problem either. probably because i wasn't big enough to work the pump by myself. i never thought of smelling it on purpose; i just liked it when i did have to smell it.

dad didn't use the gasoline tractor much, and i'm not even sure why he kept it. but he always took care of his equipment and one of those things meant filling the tank up after each day's use. vehicles were always parked w/ a full tank of fuel, something about not getting water in the tanks and that would be bad. every night i stood w/ him at the tanks while he filled things up i asked why he did it. he had told me many times, but i had quit listening by that point. i mean, i heard his voice, but i wasn't paying attention to the words anymore. i was just interested in smelling the gasoline, i guess. so here i was, off exploring on my own and i realized that i could have a smell of gasoline if i wanted. no one ever told me not to do it or that it was bad for me. not that it would've made any difference, probably, but i really didn't know.

i climbed up on the old tractor and sat on the hood of it just like i was sitting on a horse. i scooted and scooted out the nose until i had reached the gas tank lid. i opened the lid and saw the waves come out. i leaned forward and put my nose in the rising waves. h-m-m-m, smelled good. full, tingly, strong, gasoline. i sat up and looked around. i was feeling pretty big; after all, i was sitting on top of a tractor, looking out over all of my world, and doing just what i wanted. i didn't realize that i was getting high, but whatever it was -- it felt good. i leaned over and took another big breath of gasoline fumes and sat back up. it was hot outside and the sun was bright, and the waves were coming up out of the tank. i was seated far enough back from the tank that i had to lean over to get a good smell. i was pretending i was riding a horse (because i wanted one really bad and couldn't get dad to buy me one) and smelling one of my favorite smells -- gasoline.

well after a few more big "schnooks" of gasoline, i passed out. problem now was that i passed out w/ my nose right over the tank. with the waves coming out in my face. that meant that the longer i was passed out the higher i got, and the higher i got the longer i would be passed out. kind of leading to a problem here, i can see now. unfortunately, it didn't seem like a problem when i headed into this mess.

my mom soon realized that she hadn't heard me for a while, and i wasn't generally into hiding or being too quiet. so she started calling for me. i knew that i didn't want to make her wait too long before answering or i'd really be in trouble. when i didn't come to her and i didn't answer her, she got worried and came looking for me, calling my name the whole way. i could hear her calling to me, but i couldn't do anything. it was like everything was happening far from me and in a dreamlike way. she totally went nuts when she found me -- passed out, unresponsive, and eyes rolled back in my head. she was screaming and dad and the guys came running. i know she thought i was dead or soon would be, and she just couldn't handle that. this was just about 15 months after chris' death. dad was calm, and i remember hearing him talk to me and hearing her screaming in the background. i was able to hear what was going on and understand some of it -- i just couldn't respond.

no one really knows how long i was in that position, passed out w/ my nose in the gas tank. i couldn't see, couldn't stand, couldn't talk, couldn't move. i was just barely there mentally. i was terrified. i was trapped in a dark place and i couldn't get out. dad pulled me down off of the tractor, held me to his chest, and ran for the pickup. he kept talking and talking the whole time, saying my name over and over. talking calmly, just like he did in the milk barn. i'm sure he didn't feel calm, but i didn't know that. he drove like a demon to the hospital in town. i remember feeling the pickup swerve and the feeling of being jostled around from it. he ran into the emergency room, carrying me and yelling for help. he talked the whole way there, saying my name lots of time to try and get my attention.

i could hear and i knew he was there. i didn't know what was happening or why, but i knew he was there and he would fix everything. that's what he did -- he took care of and fixed everything. he would take care of this, too. there was a lot of noise in the emergency room, voices i didn't recognize, things clanging together, voices on the speaker. i couldn't see anything still, and that made it feel more scary. i just remember smelling dad's aftershave and thinking that it didn't smell like gasoline. funny thought, really. it wasn't long before my head started to pound something fierce, like someone was hammering on the backside of my eyes. i imagined a miniature paul bunyon in my head, swinging a sledge hammer against the inside of my head. it hurt, and i still couldn't see. dad kept talking and talking, saying my name and trying to get my attention still. i felt so distracted, trying to concentrate on dad's voice, but also trying to figure out what was going on inside my head.

i had pancakes for breakfast that morning. my brother's favorite meal. i liked them ok, but i liked other things better. the pancakes were sitting heavy in my stomach right now, and really feeling like they weren't going to stay there. my head was pounding, and i wasn't sure what to do. i mean, i knew what to do but i just couldn't do it. i had no body control at all. so i just lay there, feeling my head pound and my stomach roll. i could feel myself blinking, so i know my eyes were open -- they just weren't seeing anything. cold air was blowing in my face and that helped my stomach. i didn't know that the cold air was from an oxygen tank, to help get rid of the lack of oxygen sooner than breathing normal air. my stomach was still churning, but i hoped it would settle down.

i finally woke up about an hour or so later and realized i was at the hospital. this caused a terrible scene, because i was terrified of the hospital. chris went to the hospital after the car hit him and he never came home. i thought bad things happened at hospitals. no one had ever told me that and i had never talked to anyone about it, but i knew. he left in the ambulance and he never came home. i had to get out of here and i wanted to go home. suddenly i was scrambling trying to get away. i couldn't believe dad brought me here. i squirmed and pinched, scratched, bit, scrambled, kicked, screamed, cried, hit, and carried on like a trapped bobcat. three nurses and dad couldn't hold me down. i was trying to climb over dad to get out of that room. my balance wasn't very good and neither was my coordination, but it didn't take much coordination to bite someone. i could tell from the voices that i was making headway. all except dad, who was still talking calmly and saying my name over and over.

i fought like crazy to get out of there until someone put something over my face and the world went black again. i remember thinking that i would be living in a black world now. i don't think i thought i was dying, but i knew things were not like they were supposed to be. i was scared and i didn't want to be there. when i woke up again, it was so bright in the room that the lights hurt my eyes. my body felt like it was heavy and stuck in molasses. i guess i had a shot while i was out to help keep me calm. dad was there talking to me the whole time and the nurses and doctors were moving around and talking. there was so much noise and it hurt my head. i wanted to sleep. i was so tired.

we went home in a few hours, but we had to go back everyday for the first week. we had to keep going back two times a week for the next six weeks, and every now and then after that. i had to stay in the house after we got home. i wasn't allowed to go out and play, ride my motorcycle, go swimming or anything. it was worse than being in trouble. i wasn't supposed to get too hot, which is impossible on a farm in the summertime. i was trapped in the house for weeks. what's worse, i felt like everyone was mad at me. it was one of those things where they were so relieved i was fine and then mad that i had put myself in danger and/or scared them so much. mom was definitely mad at me for doing "that stunt" and dad was just glad that he had his family home again.

sniffing gas was defintiely one of the more stupid things i've done in life, and don't think that my family will ever let me forget about it. an adventure that went wrong. an experiment that didn't work. a disaster that almost happened. whatever you want to call it, it was just another day on a farm for an adventurous kid. starting the next day, i thought everything was fine. unfortunately for me, my parents didn't see it that way. after that, i had "hawkeye" watching me. every time i was out of sight, i could hear her calling my name. i had about 10 seconds to answer or get "front and center" before all hell started breaking loose. took me a few times to figure that out, but i got it eventually.

still in life, if i do something that they consider stupid or make a choice that they don't approve of -- someone will make a joke about the "sniffing" incident. something pondering the number of brain cells that i might have destroyed or what i might have been w/ those extra brain cells. usually it's my brother. and despite the fact that he jokes about it now -- he was crazy w/ fear that day. he had seen his brother die the year before and now he thought he was seeing his baby sister die. for days after that, i would look up and just see him standing there . . . looking at me. he'd just smile and walk away, but he'd be back after a while to check on me again. he'd gripe about me being a baby that he needed to check on, but no one asked him to check on me and i already had a "keeper"! after that incident, it was a while before i was able to be on my own much!

in case you're wondering, i don't care for the smell of gasoline anymore. in fact, i don't care much for any of those kinds of smells -- diesel, kerosene, paint thinner, whatever. not only do i not care for the smell, i really can't stand those smells. even just small amounts of those things give me a pounding headache. must be something in my system that says "uh-huh, we're not doing THAT again!" fortunately for me, i'm a quick learner and it only takes one time for me to learn the lesson!

1 comment:

Tee said...

Jill - excellent writing. Your entry had me trying to speed read to see what happend next.