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It is an awful place...
War. It is an awful sense of being lost. It is a way to take away lives. It is an excuse for violence. War. It is dead. There is no life. You do not live.
Madness—that is what it is. And they say I am mad. Because he is gone. They say I am mental. Because he is gone. They say he is dead. Because he is gone.
War. That is what did this to him.
A missing face...
Everyday I come home from therapy, he is not here. I walk the halls of my own home, but he is still nowhere to be seen—ever. Not even at one o'clock in the morning—when nobody is out and about; everybody is safe in their beds, not a peep to be heard from any house, anywhere, but not him. Still, they say I am mad. Because he is not here. He fought in that war, that is why he is not here! Nobody understands, though. They say that they know what I am going through, that they feel my pain. But they do not. There is no pain like that of a loss. And I, more than anyone in the world, am lost. Am experiencing a loss.
65, 64, 63, 62, 61, 60, 59, 58....Days.
He wrote letters. Reminded me, everyday, that everything was fine, and that he would come home to me, so that we could be a family again. He wrote me, but it doesn't help... I know I am missing, darling. But it gets better. Liar. I know you are hurting. But I'll be back soon. Liar. I know that it will be over soon. But I miss you, nevertheless. Liar. Liar. Liar!
They tell me I have gone mad, only because I loved him so! I just worried. It was all fine, healthy. It is all right to worry. Very healthy—good for you, in fact. But then it happened. And it keeps coming back....
57, 56, 55, 54, 53, 52, 51, 50...
A stormy day, but it doesn't go away!
It rains, but I do not know it. It hails, but I go outside in a tank top and shorts. It snows, but I do not know why I cannot get out the door. It is below thirty degrees in my own home, but I am sweating, asking myself: why is it so hot in here?!? I do not notice, because I walk asleep. I think I sleep awake. I am a zombie, only breathing to know that I am alive. Not breathing for life, but for knowledge. Still, I do not know. With all my knowledge, with every painful breath, I still do not know.
I always heard that people can go mental from losing something they loved. But I did not lose something I loved, I lost something I love. But I have not gone mad! Not crazy—sad.
And I have the right
And I have the right
to not see.
But most of all, I have the right to cry. I do not cry in front of people, no, never in front of them. I cry alone. I cry when no one sees, which is most of the time. I cry in the rain—at least I think it is rain. Because when I cry in the rain, even I cannot tell. I cannot see. I love it. I love walking in the rain, running in the rain, crying in the rain, because nobody can see me. Nobody can hear me. Not even myself. The drops are too loud....
And what is sadder than not being able to tell whether you are—or are not—crying? What can hurt more than not even having the mental capacity to know whether or not you are smiling or frowning? Crying or dying?
It doesn't help.
Dr. Whatishisname is my therapist.
Good Morning. Are you feeling any better?
Do you still cry yourself to sleep?
Have you spoken a word?
He thinks it will get my attention, but it doesn't. Silence.
Okay, then. Let's play a game, shall we? And to think it's almost as if he waits for my answer.
Tell me, Dakota, what is this picture? Oh, this game. I sigh.
I see a big glob. But I cannot tell him that. Maybe it is a globe with people in it, but that does not make sense to me. Why that?
But I cannot tell him that!
So I decide to open my mouth for the very first time since he died.
I count to myself first. 49, 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42...
I see a boy. A boy with short blond hair. A big nose. Brown eyes. A couple of pounds too big.
He is called ugly. He is not accepted by anyone. Except me. No one loves him. Except me.
And now he is gone.
I say all of this out loud. Because that is what I see in the glob when I look at it closely. It is probably not the truth, but that is what I see. That is what I see in this whole glob that they call a world. It is always him. The only person I see. Him. On every wall, every sign, every picture, every stupid glob Dr. Whatishisname shows me...
He does not respond, but, instead, shows me another one. This one is another glob. With a rose in the center, and a single dot in the corner.
Oh, this is even better. It is that boy. Holding a single red rose. And that single dot right over there—that is a single tear drop. A foreshadowing to my predicament.
Okay, next picture. He stops me before I am finished.
I do not allow it. I am not through. So, he apologizes and allows me to proceed.
The rose is black now. I see it sometimes. On a door I enter, or one I close—but it is not dead yet. Just black. And I think that I see it now...
Where? I think he is confused. He looks around, probably asking himself if he is encouraging me by actually believing a word that I say.
Right there, I point to him.
I see it in his eyes. He obviously thinks that I am crazy. He makes a phone call (to his own therapist, I assume), and then lets me go. I do not hesitate by the black rose on the door. I just go.
He does not help. How can you?
My friends come over to pay their respects.
I appreciate/hate/love/need it. I ignore/listen to/encourage it. I love/hate/want/need them.
How's it going, Dakota, darling?
It sucks. But I do not say so.
What I tell them is:
It gets better every day, Emily. It gets better everyday, Lexia. It gets better everyday, Susan. It gets better everyday, Dr. Whatishisname. But it doesn't get better, and I continue sitting here, pretending it does...
And then everybody leaves and I am alone. My best friend doesn't even come. Can I get rid of it? The pain. Does it get easier? Can I just let it drop off somewhere, like a piece of trash that nobody bothered to walk to the trash can to dump out? Just two more steps to the trash can...One more...But no—it is too much work, so it gets dumped on the floor. Could I do that? Please let me do that....I need help! But not from Dr. Whatishisname. From me. For me. From him...
And I'm not sure if I did lie to all of the people who came to pay their respects. Maybe it does get better. I breathe. I know I am alive. I have to know I'm alive. I have to breathe to know...I know I have not gone mad.
Time heals everything. It will pass. Because everything does. With time—just give it time....
B. R. E. A. T. H. E.
And I do. I breathe in and out. In and out. And I get an extra heartbeat. An extra voice. An extra minute.
41, 40, 39, 38, 37, 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 31, 30....Breathe, breathe. 29, 28, 27, 26...And I continue breathing.
A knock on the door.
But you will make time heal...
It has been a couple of weeks. Time does not heal. But she does make it heal. My best friend makes it heal.
Knock, knock, knock. Evangeline knocks on my door. Pounds on my door. Scratches at my door. Trying to get in. To help me—because I need it.
I pause by the black rose on the door this time. I hesitate. 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20...I open the door.
Dakota. Out loud. She says my name. And then she embraces me. And I realize: This was all that I needed. An embrace. Somebody who cared. And it was not any of those friends who came here and said that they cared that I needed. No, it was not even myself...Not even him. It was she, all along. Because she is my guardian angel. She is who heals the pain. She is who I want here with me through everything. Because she protects me from bad people and bad things. She protects me from myself. And only because of that, I let myself melt. I hug her back.
I was an iceberg. I FROZE MYSELF. I let myself be vulnerable to all types of hurt. Emotional. Physical. Mental...I melt, but then I freeze again. But not now. Now, I am thawing because I have been put into a pot of boiling water. Slowly. Slowly. Slowly. Thawing.
I hug her tighter.
And she is a red rose.
I, Dakota, the mentalist.
They say I am mental. But why not a mentalist? After all, I read Dr. Whatishisname so well.
I walk in the office. What is he thinking...Oh, great, the nutcase. Oh, well, I get paid a couple hundred an hour.
Okay, Dakota. You seemed to get somewhere last time. Let's play the same game.
Okay, if that's what you want. I thought therapy was supposed to be about me...Still, they all make it about themselves...
Although, that glob in his hands is a very easy one. I got lucky. It's a frame!
A frame? He is confused. See, this is easy. I am the mentalist.
Yes, a frame. I, Dakota, am right over there. And he, Lucas, is right over here.
Is that his name? Lucas? He is surprised. I am the mentalist.
I ignore him. He is Lucas. His arm is around me. But right there, in the corner....
Yes. Yes! In the corner. He is excited. I am the mentalist.
And in the corner, there is a storm. A storm of sand. Weapons flying. People crying. It hurts. I clutch at my stomach, but that is the wrong spot. It is my heart that is hurting.
Dakota, you have to stop doing this to yourself! I'm going to show you another picture. And I don't want you to think about Lucas. Nobody and nothing but the picture! Angry. I am the mentalist.
Okay, this one is—
He cuts me off. No, I want you to think. I want you to think very long and hard. I want you to analyze this picture and tell me what you see.
I am analyzing. I am the mentalist. I know everything.
Breathe. 19, 18, 17, 16...
I see me. And I am smiling. Because I believe that time heals. Because Evangeline is next to me, holding my hand. And I am letting her. It's...beautiful...
And then I start to cry. And I think I am allowed to do so. No—I know I am allowed to do so.
I cry because I realize that it will be okay. Oh! There is too much beauty. It takes my breath away.
Yes! Yes! Yes! I can tell that he is ecstatic! Mentalist!
Then, he shows me one I had seen before. The one with the black rose.
I see a boy, but it is not him. It is somebody else. Down on one knee. And he is holding a single
red rose. Still, I am crying. But I am not sad. I am happy, actually happy! And I realize how sad that is because I am surprised at being happy. But I am actually happy! I cannot help it...
Yes! Yes! Yes! You are moving on. This is amazing! I have pleased him. I am the mentalist!
And, again, he shows me the first one I had ever seen. The difference is, though, that I tell him the truth this time. I see a globe. I see the world. And it is on top of my shoulders, but I am not weak. I hold it high and strong.
It. Is. Amazing.
Because I am free.
You are amazing, Dakota. I am no longer the mentalist. What is he feeling?
What is your name, Doctor?
Of course I still have scars. Of course I still mourn. Of course I have not completely found my way. But I am not mad. I am not completely lost. I am free.
Evangeline comes over every day to make sure that I am all right. We talk and talk for hours.
And when she leaves, I don't feel alone.
I still see Dr. Macks every other month, but we do not talk about my problems. We laugh and joke about everything, never even bringing up Lucas. And I am strong enough to say his name aloud.
I even still believe war is evil, not justified, uncalled for. But I survive. I breathe. I do not breathe just to know I am alive, though, I breathe because I am alive. And I don't even think about it. I don't tell myself: breathe. It's involuntary now. It is a part of me just as he is, just as Evangeline is.
15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. The final count for how many days he was in the war before he died. I am strong enough to finish the numbers. From 65 to 0. A long, hard journey, but one I had to make. One I am proud to have made, though.
But it does not matter. Because he is an angel now. And I am happy he does not have to wake up every day, seeing death. I am happy that he is resting in peace.
I am mental.
But mental does not always mean crazy, at least not to me.
a sense of thought.
a wrapping of everything around the mind.