Posted by: Michelle Stella Riordan | February 25, 2013

The Dark Road Deathwatch…

Summer of Surrealism

Sunrise, Shafts of light  “In the darkest times hope is something you give yourself”

Those words embody summer of 2012.  It was a crazy dream sequence out of a Stephen King’s Insomnia.  I couldn’t sleep.  My mind chugged away.  How to balance today, this week.  Constant changes going on around me. 

May 2012 exploded outward.  A friend was murdered. 

How do I process that?  I couldn’t fathom the intent.  How could you take another life?  We had a charity event scheduled too.  My transmission started slipping and I had to drive mom back to New York for her next round of chemo.  How do you stay on the path?  ONE foot in front of the other.  Solve what you can and come back to the others. 

June 2012…keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times! This ride went from 999,999 to Exponential, forget 0-60mph.  

A family member had gone off the radar for a few days.  My mom got a call.  He was brought into the ER with a broken ankle.  She was in a panic.  She was already 10 months into her diagnosis of lung cancer.  She abandoned all thought of herself and sat by his bedside for 24 hours in the ER.  She thought someone had attacked him.  He was covered in blood.  I could not walk out of the convention I was photographing.  I was working until late that night.  I had to stay focused so that we could meet our goals.  I smiled.  I captured images.  I conversed with everyone at this convention.  Inside…a voice was gnawing at me trying its best to rattle my cage.  I have an uncanny knack for tunneling in. 

I should mention here that someone had previously threatened this person’s life.  Hence the suspicions. Luckily family stepped in until I could get there to help.  My sister and mother stayed by his bedside.  I drove up the next morning and sent my mother home for some rest.  I stayed in the hospital for 3 days.  I perfected sleeping on 2 chairs.  My sister and I hadn’t talked in many years.  What a way to break the ice.  We came together for a common cause and decided to go check out his apartment after we were able to gather some details from his friends that found him.  They told us to be prepared.  They found him in his apartment covered in blood.  He had probably been laying there for days we were told.  So, we stopped at a supermarket and bought gloves, trash bags and something with menthol to mask out any nasty smells.  We put the key in the door, held hands and held our breaths. 

We were amazed there was no smell.  His friends had opened the windows.  Thank goodness.  We were prepared for it to smell like blood, urine, anything.  What we weren’t prepared for was the blood!  Blood on the floor.  Blood on the walls.  Blood on the curtains.  Drops of blood.  Pools of blood.  Blood, blood, blood. 

We went in to see if we could put together the pieces of his previous weekend.  Our family member couldn’t tell us much.  He had gone out drinking with friends but between a compound fractured ankle, severe dehydration and massive blood loss he was definitely a little foggy.  We found receipts.  We put together a time line of events.  I photographed the blood.  It was an out-of-body experience made worse when I came across a box cutter with more blood on it and his whiskers.  I showed it to my sister. 

Reality. Reality sucks.  Reality hits you in the chest like a sack full of bricks.  It sucks the air from your very existence.  I was watching the movie of my life. 

So why?  How can a person not value their life?  How do I begin to understand that process?  How do I explain it to anyone?  How do I tell my family?  How do I tell him? 

We spent the next few days cleaning.  We wiped, we bagged and trashed soiled articles.  There was even blood in the freezer.  I don’t want to know why.  There were photographs all over the floors.  The dust was thick on the dresser.  A sad person lived here.  A person shutting themself into a cave one rock at a time where there were only shafts of light getting in.  I should have paid attention to the texts.  I should have paid attention to the red flags but I didn’t know how to recognize this sadness. 

Sunset from New York City, Find Your Happy Place

 “the light shineth in darkness;  and the darkness comprehended it not”

What can you take away from this? 

Surround yourself with beauty.  Surround yourself with a support group.  Talk to someone.  Chances are they might be going through something too.  We are not alone.  Think funny.  Go for a run.  Garden.  Stop by the ocean, dig your toes in the sand, lift your face up toward the light, shut your eyes and breath. 

I look back upon this journey.  I am nowhere near the same person as when I started it. 

Where is your journey taking you..?

“We all live under the same sky,

but we all don’t have the same horizon.”

Konrad Adenauer

Toes in the Sand, Find your Happy Place

My true North…my Horizon…my Happy Place…My Son.


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