It’s 3 AM

March 19, 2014 By Tom

I fell asleep just fine at a reasonable time last night, but at 2:30 this morning I woke up to the sensation of falling backwards.  It’s been a few months since I woke up violently to that feeling, pillow soaked in sweat, literally bear-hugging the air in front of me (how’s that for irony?) as I realize it was just a nightmare flashback to The Crash.

It’s an awful way to wake up, wide awake with adrenaline running, heartbeat racing, ears ringing, memories flooding back, hyper-alert, back sore from being tense, looking around a very dark and oddly quiet bedroom compared to the noise in my head from the nightmare.

It’s something that used to happen all the time and over the past two years it has slowly decreased.  I always said the worst thing about the accident in terms of memory was never losing consciousness and remembering every awful second like a slow motion movie.  I can still feel every instinct, remember every logical thought I had in those few seconds and it all gets replayed in these violent dreams.

There’s no rhyme or reason for what triggers it, it never seems to be stress related, it’s not usually something that jostled my memory in the day previous; they’ve happened when life was calm, when life was hectic, when my bed has been full, when it’s been empty, while on vacation and while napping on the couch on a Sunday afternoon.

Ironically, I’m stressed for a huge pitch meeting I have today and I stopped by the cemetery last night to visit Jim’s grave and clear my mind a bit; so it’s easy to point to these two factors being what brought it on–but I feel like that’s a bit of a cop-out as well.

I’ve talked to somebody about it, first in the 2 years after the wedding and then last fall.  I’ve been told that my personality is just clinically logical and while it’s partly PTSD, it’s partially just trying to process and organize the memories and make logic of it all–even almost 4 years later.

A good friend and I were talking last week and she asked me “do you wish you had done anything differently now knowing what you know and being in the situation you’re in?” as she alluded to those split second decisions made inside that bus.  “Absolutely not” I replied, “I protected who I was supposed to protect. Whose father I made the promise I would always take care of.  Obviously I would change anything to make sure we all walked off that bus, but there’s nothing I physically could have done to protect Jim too.”

And while I’ve said it before, I’m not sure I ever put it in writing—Jim made sure I walked off that bus today by protecting us, protecting the package I had wrapped up in my arms and making sure my injuries weren’t fatal as well.  And the only way I can pay him back for his sacrifice is by kicking ass in life and holding true to my passions and loves.

But seriously, brother, if you’ve got any control over my dreams…can you hook me up with some rainbows and cold beer dreams instead?  It’d be much appreciated.

Time to make some coffee.

EDIT (8:50AM): Sister B just sent me this–seems fitting today.