Welcome to Hell: A Caregiver's Nightmare

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The Fall Out

“But that can’t be it. That can’t be all of it. Deserve…ugh such an ugly, entitled word. I'm not buying it. Because he did not deserve what happened to him. He did not deserve what I did to him.”

I stop, and start again, “They told me not to talk like that. It’s ‘unhealthy.’ Apparently I blacked out so that is why there are pieces missing and why I can’t say definitively that it’s my fault but…but what they don’t know…I remember some of it. Not all of it. I did black out. But…,” and I start to tear up again, “but I was there and I begged them to save him. I was on the street which I distinctly remember as being weird because I knew we were on the freeway and it smelled so pungent, that mixture of gasoline and blood and hot asphalt, and I remember crying ‘Help’ and ‘Please’ over and over but I didn’t say ‘Help me.’ I said ‘Help him. Help my dad. Where’s my dad? Help him! Please!’ I begged for him to be saved. I appealed to every deity, every emergency response worker, and every person now trapped in terrible traffic because of us.” That was my mistake; that was my accident.

I put my head in my hands. I cry, trying to be quiet about it. My shoulders shake. I really wish I had a tissue. I wipe the back of my hand across my face.

“He can’t walk. Did I say that already? Yeah…no, he can’t walk. His left arm doesn’t work. He can barely see. He can’t dress himself. He can’t cook his own food or feed himself. He can’t drive a car. He can’t travel on an airplane. He can’t remember what he did last year or who he talked to last month. He watches the same TV show episodes over and over. He reads the same articles over and over. He doesn’t know when my birthday is. He can’t remember our address.”

‘And now I just want him to die.’ Even here, there are some things that I cannot say. There are some things even the devil shouldn’t hear.

“I would go back. I would go back in time if I could and stop it. Sometimes I imagine alternates: he and I switch places. We both die. We both get injured. We’re both fine. And, you know, for some reason, that last one is the hardest one to picture, to stick with and flesh out in my imagination. It’s like…I don’t want this but I don’t know how to picture anything else anymore.”

Hell is a lack of imagination.

“So I probably do deserve to be here. In fact, maybe I deserve far worse than this. Maybe this isn’t hell after all. Perhaps I’m only in the first stage…or circle...I think Dante all about circles...or maybe I’m even in purgatory. Maybe at this very moment someone is fighting for me, begging for me, pleading with the Almighty and All Powerful to save my puny soul. But I can’t think who.”

“Why would they? Why would anyone want to help me? I could never sort that out. I mean, I can understand someone wanting to support…say, an artist. An artist adds some beauty to the world. But me? Why would anyone want to help me? I destroy people. I wreak havoc.”

I do not pause, since I know that no one can object to that. “I don’t have many friends. ‘Because you don’t put yourself out there’ my mom would say, explaining my situation to me with an impatience bordering on irritation. It was…it was so easy for her. Easy for the woman who never lost touch with anyone, who exchanged Christmas cards with the girl she sat next to in first grade. I can’t even remember who I sat next to in first grade! I can’t remember a lot now.”

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