The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 10, Jeremy

“Jeremy! Tuck in your shirt tail. You look like an orphan, one of those neglected drug-kids you see on the news. If people were to get a look at you, they’d think you were born in the hills and raised by the wolves for pity’s sake. You need to take more care to protect your good name and image – and mine. Thank goodness it isn’t what you know, but who you know that get’s you ahead in life. Sometimes I think we must have picked up the wrong child at the hospital. There is some family of idiots out there running around with a genius as their boy and they just cannot believe their bloody good fortune.

Did you hear me Jeremy? Or were you chasing rainbows again, boy?”

“Yes M-m-momma—”

“How many times do I have to tell you to stop calling me that? We are not southern trash. Your father’s line goes back over two hundred years in these parts. Connecticut, Newport, Boston,” his mother ticked them off on her fingers, “New York City too and my family even further than that. You can address me as Mother, as do all self-respecting young men of privilege. I know we do not have the resources we once did, not since your father died, bless his soul, but that does not mean we need abandon our manners and intelligence –does it Jeremy? We’ll – answer up, it was a straightforward question, even you should be able to handle it. And no bloody stammering! You know how much I hate that. It makes you sound like a bloody retard. And brush your hair down, you don’t need to look like one too. What am I going to do with you child? What must the neighbors think of us when they see you?”

Jeremy remembered that day without difficulty, for it seemed to be every-day of his life. Correction, every day of his life when mother was alive. She would go on and on about high-society and their imaginary place among it and what a disappointment her retarded little boy was to her. Never realizing, or more than likely she did not care, what kind of mental and emotional damage she was doing to him. In one breath, she would be praising the Lord for her former husband and his long line of Yankee blood and with the next cursing his very soul to rot in hell for siring a brain-addled boy.

Jeremy had seen the pictures. His father looked just fine. He probably died to get a little peace. Though he didn’t quite grasp what it had meant when he was a little boy, he’d certainly heard it from enough mouths when they thought he wasn’t listening. Now being older of course, more worldly, he figured they were probably right.

It was his own studies, years and years in silence, and that nagging visit to the Doctor which refused to leave the nooks and crannies of his brain, that had finally brought the truth to him. That maybe he wasn’t a retard. That he might possibly get help for whatever condition/conditions he was afflicted with. In his epiphany, he had run to mother to share the news – that perhaps his mind was not deficient and a doctor might be able to help fix him from bothering her so much.

The slap that was his answer left a mark on his face for more than three days, school days too. He had to stay home so the idiot teachers, his mother’s name for them, would not get it in their liquor soaked minds that she was a mother who beat her child. As much as the smack hurt, listening to her rationale of why he was staying home seemed to take most of the sting away. Did she honestly believe that? he would wonder. As he certainly had enough scars, breaks and bruises to confirm otherwise.

From that day forward, he kept his studies to himself. Staying after school or going to the library. Painstakingly going over text after text, so difficult, as reading proved to be one of the hardest things for him, the letters swimming and jumbling all over the page. It gave him a thundering headache on most days. However, he would plod on methodically, as he did everything in his life, planning it out meticulously and only moving along when the last step was completed to the highest of standards and could be checked off his list.

He understood his method to be excruciatingly slow to others, even himself on occasion. It was the primary part of his personality that appeared to drive his mother into a rage. Even so, for the life of him and no matter the consequences, he could not step out of pattern. It came to him one day, all at once and as clear as light, that this slowness – this slave to order and detail, this obsession with getting the task perfect – was most likely going to kill him, if his mother didn’t do it first in a fit of rage, over some trivial detail that he refused to let go of.

He needed to find help and he needed it soon.

That was the very same day, same ah-ha moment – an epiphany if you will – when he realized his mother must go. That she would never allow him to get treatment, not while she remained alive. She had complete control of every aspect of his pathetic life and who was he kidding, as long as she was alive that’s the way it would stay.

So she needed to pass on. “And by the damn, I intend to help her.” He spoke aloud, swearing for the first time and right there in the heart of the public library, sporting the biggest, goofiest smile on his face he could remember – maybe ever. He couldn’t see it but he could feel it stretching his cheeks, pulling his eyes open like a clown, baring his teeth, and for the first time he didn’t care what his mother might think, didn’t look around to see if she were spying.

As much as it pained him – the intensity nearly crumbling his resolve more times than he cared to remember – he put the study of his behavior issues aside to start fresh. Take his first genuine stride towards healing and treatment. He called it, quietly of course, How to Get Rid of Mother and Start Living, coined after a Carnegie title. He had read all of Carnegie’s material, everything the library held or would order in and enjoyed the uplifting message. He wasn’t sure if he’d changed from reading it, though he would let the Doctor be the judge.

“I beg your pardon? You what?” Dr. Reichmann’s face was priceless.

“I asked you, what it is you wanted to know. After all, we do have doctor-patient privilege, do we not? I read about it on-line. I no longer need to go to the library. With Mother gone, I can do my research or whatever else I want, right from the comforts of home. What’s the matter Doctor? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost. I assure you it is not real. Believe me – I’ve been searching for six months.”

“No – I— I mean … you what? You killed your Mother?” The Doctor’s mouth kept opening and closing, like a Pez dispenser or the clown face at the end of a mini-putt game. It looked quite comical to be true, if he were being honest.

What a change, how much more relaxed he was. It was as if all his crippling pressures in life had released at the same instant – whoosh – and he was free. Mother had been a larger stifling influence than he had known. Just the mere thought of telling the Doctor released the tension, made him smile, taking him most of the way there – the new medicine the Doctor subscribed a few months ago taking him the rest. Jeremy leaned back into his chair, smiling. It felt so wrong to let loose but good – free.

“You said it yourself, Dr. Reichmann. I have issues enough to deal with let alone adding my mother and hers to the pile. And then there’re my issues with my mother, which I am certain is the largest pile of them all. The answer was simple come to think of it. For the life of me, I can’t think of why I hadn’t figured it out sooner.”

Jeremy shot up from his reclined position, grabbing the edge of the Doctor’s desk with white fists and leaning his face halfway across the wooden barrier. “Oh-right! Absolute terror!” He fell back into his chair laughing. “She scared the bloody hell out of me! Thank you Doctor, for the sound council and the injection of courage I needed to get the job done, get on with my life. You have been an absolute God send. I am quite sure I will never be able to repay you, but all in a day’s work as they say – right Doctor? Dr. Reichmann?”

Quite pale and a little shaky, the Doctor asked, “How…?” looked around, continued, “When? I mean – I thought she was alive.”

Jeremy sighed in relief. The Doctor looked to be over his initial shock and coming around. Jeremy relaxed, the first time in a long time – since he could remember, in fact. “Alive? Heavens no,” he said, shaking his head. “If she were still alive, I would never have been able to see you.”

Jeremy spent the rest of his session explaining to the Doctor how he had indeed killed his mother. It was all matter of fact, with no more emotion than putting out the garbage. It had been on that same day, well the eve of that day anyway, when he had first met the Doctor.

The Doctor’s quick diagnosis of O.C.P.D., and the confirmation that, “As far as I can see, you show no signs of retardation whatsoever.” Combined with the news that it was highly likely it was his mother who had triggered his O.C.P.D. to begin with, was all he could think of on the bus ride home. The Doctor’s words played over in his mind like a broken tape, an infinite loop he could not escape.

For the first time, there had been no plan at all. Not his, not his mothers, it had been an accident for the most part. Or was it an opportunity? She had been yelling at him and hitting him at the top of the stairs, calling him a retard and cursing about his father and Jeremy had just pushed her.

He heard the cracks and pops, the splintering of old bones as she tumbled down the stairs. It was surreal, as if he was watching from somewhere else. It had all happened in slow motion, seeming to take forever. He never realized how many stairs there were and she seemed to hit every single one of them on the way down.

When she came to rest, a twisted, broken pile at the bottom, he had thought she was dead. He could not believe the happiness, the elation erupting from his toes flooding every pore, every atom, to the tips of his every hair and he rushed down the stairs to get a better look, just in case. He was doing a little fist-pump type of dance – a kind of Charlie Brown, Peanuts Gang thing – when he heard the moan. At first, he thought it just a floorboard or something. After all, the house was quite old and had many creaks and squeaks, but then he heard it again.

“Jeremy… I’m hurt … call ambul—”

Conveniently, he located the Louisville-Slugger his mother kept beside the front door in case of intruders and bashed her brains in.

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