**Trigger alert** This post may contain things that trigger you if you’ve ever dealt with something traumatic yourself or you’re a more sensitive person. I will be talking about what I witnessed to an extent, and may go into emotional detail on physical things so if this is likely to upset you to the point where you’re not sure you can handle it, please do yourself a favour and just skip right over it.
Living with a traumatic experience etched into your brain is no mean feat. Remember the memory movie reel I talked about? Yeah, I also see that moment clearly too. That moment in time, the feelings associated with it, that entire experience. It’s etched in there for recall whenever I accidentally think about it or something triggers the memory.
I don’t want it in there. It is horrifying. I can play it through in slow mo, fast forward or real time. There are no differences, no mistakes, no additions. It’s like hitting replay over and over again.
I try to stop it. The look on his face, the panic in my heart, the blood on my hands. I try to stop but but sometimes, it keeps going and it buckles me.
I was there when it happened. At our home. I called 000 and I tried to save him. But I couldn’t. I watched him suffer out his last minutes, I watched him die while performing 000 led CPR.
My screaming and adrenaline is vividly imprinted into my brain. The feeling of helplessness because I didn’t know what I was doing. Watching your soul mate die is on another level. Not something you ever think you’ll have to go through.
This tortures me.
After it happened, I would physically shake if I heard sirens. I’d have knee jerk reactions to policemen being anywhere near me. It would eat me up and I’d shut down.
I’ve spoken about putting walls up, something I’ve become quite good at over the course of my life. Survival 101. This is the only thing I wall up about in relation to this part of my journey, which helps me not crumble constantly.
If I let it in, I can quickly spiral into something and someone unmanageable. I torture myself with questions like, “If I’d been able to do CPR better, would he still be here?”, “If I wasn’t so panicked, would he have made it to the hospital for this to be fixed?”, “Was I doing it right? Did he know I was there with him? Did he feel anything?”
Sheer adrenaline surged through me that night. 10 mins I performed CPR on him while I waited for the paramedics to take over and not once did I tire. It wasn’t until later on that I realised that if it weren’t for that desperation and our natural ability to pull strength from nowhere in times of crisis, I wouldn’t have been able to continue as I did.
I heard his rib crack at one point and when I tried to tell the phone operator that I’d hurt him further, he told me that if I’d cracked his rib, I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. That distressed me no end, what if he could feel this, was I hurting him more than I needed to?
When this all floods into my mind, I think about him and what he must have been going through. Fear, pain, hopelessness. What was he thinking, did he know he was dying, could he hear me trying to save him, did he know in that moment that he wasn’t alone?
His last facial expressions are forever burned into my minds eye. The sound of his laboured breathing and then no sound at all. His body position, his limpness, the clothes he was wearing. I remember looking down at my hands after we were told they couldn’t save him and thinking, “What the hell is that all over my hands?” Blood. His blood.
On top of dealing with his loss, I have this experience to live with also. Forever.
It’s like something out of a horror film. It induces panic and physical pain caused by emotional turmoil. I can’t wipe that and in a way, I almost don’t want to. It’s probably weird to feel honoured to have spent his last moments in this life with him but I do feel that. In that moment, he was loved. In that moment, someone was desperately trying to save him as hard as they could from a place of deep love. In that moment, he was the only thing on the planet I cared about.
Something to cherish and yet, something you never want to experience either.