I guess I’ll write through this. Maybe it will help.

I didn’t know I was hurting so much. Last week, I seemed so able to cope and to function. My mind was on getting through the milestones and the place that grief holds during them and I did it. I got through it. I think I got through it rather well.

This morning, I am not able to cope. I’m skating along the edge of “I’m worthless.” It’s not so bad. I mean, it’s not a nice feeling, but I have firmly in my mind that I need my feelings. Something magical happens that allows the trauma to become manageable if I can deal with the feelings enough to connect them to everything they are connected to. So I do that. I hold that feeling for a while. I let my mind wander through all the things that make me feel worthless. I don’t bludgeon myself with them. I am not beating myself up over these things. I am just drifting, in a slow way, at a rate I can cope with.

I end up at two places—not surprisingly. I end up at one place in the distant past and one place in the recent past.

I held C last night, very hard. She was in one of the bedrooms—who knows if this is the one where she normally sleeps or not. There are two bedrooms in the house, very small ones. Enough room for a twin-sized bed and a bit of floor and a cupboard or two, some shelves or something. There are four kids. C’s family has a lot of stuff.

Anyway, two bedrooms, two beds that aren’t particularly large—but less narrow than mine is—two parents and four kids.

I had given C earrings. They finally arrived in the mail yesterday—two days late for her birthday. Anyway, I had hoped. Not gotten.

The evening before, she was sleeping when I came in. I wasn’t going to wake her. Then her sister began shouting in a kind of sing-song voice, “Wake up! Madam is here.” Something like that. So Madam went into the bedroom and woke her up.

C thought I was her younger sister. I put my hand under the blanket and stroked her hair, touched her hands. She complained it was cold. She used bad words in her own language. She tossed and turned. Finally, she sat up in a very confused way, wiped drool away from her mouth, and gathered her phone from under the blanket. She wanted me to go away. “I want to sleep. My whole body is paining.”

“But your birthday present came.” And I gave it to her. She opened up the box and looked.

“Do you like them?”

She wobbled her head.

She asked for a recharge then for her phone and handed me money, which I took without thinking. I don’t normally take money from her. Why should I? She lay down again and cuddled under the blankets. I got up and switched out the light and then sat down again next to her. She didn’t seem to be sleeping yet. I didn’t hear sleeping breathing. I just sat there, one arm behind her head. After a few minutes, I stroked her hair and this seemed to wake her up again.

“You are sitting there, ma’am?”

“Yes.”

“How long are you going to stay?”

“Until you fall asleep.”

This seems to have been where she asked for the recharge. I guess I have gotten the narrative wrong. Then she told me to leave the room. “If mom sees you sitting like this, she will scold me.”

True enough. So I left. I got the recharge. I fell asleep at 7 pm. That was the night before last.

Yesterday, she came home from football practice around four or so. There was a party to attend in the evening—she wanted to go. Her friend prevailed upon her to ask her mom. I observed this and got some pointers. I never push C to do anything. Apparently, if you do, she will eventually comply, but she is scared to ask her mom anything. C was instructed to scrub the laundry before going. And to be home at 8.

So, at some point, I told C I wanted to see the earrings on her. She gives an excuse about the games coordinator not allowing it, then scampers off to scrub laundry. After the laundry, I try again, “I don’t mean all the time, C. I meant I want to see you try them one time to see how they look.” She giggles in an embarrassed way and then finds them to put on. She has something else to do and scampers off again.

“Go look at them.” There is a full-length mirror in the bedroom. “They look so pretty on you.” And she smiles just a little—she really doesn’t smile around me anymore. I hadn’t noticed this until her friend made her smile earlier in the evening and suddenly her eyes sparkled. I don’t know where the sparkle went. It disappeared some days ago. Maybe weeks ago.

I had meant to talk to her about my going to the Capitol City. Someone asked me about it yesterday and C and I had been talking about her fears about my leaving, and it connected in my head in terror of leaving her. I asked her again if she wanted to go.

“Mom is saying….”

“What do you want?”

“Mom is saying…”

It takes a while to get past this reasoning and there is a miscommunication in between, but I get out of her she wants to pack up the house before her dad comes. She takes ownership of it. She says, “I want to…”

So that’s fine then. She is choosing to stay.

It’s about then that I hug her. She is reaching to put something away then and I hold her. I hold her very hard, so hard she makes a noise.

I’m aware later that that particular moment of my life is cordoned off. I stepped away from it and dissociated. I said in some silent, unconscious way, “That is not me,” and removed myself from its sense of reality.

In the morning, I suppose I began to wonder why that happened. What was it about that moment that made me step away from it? I suppose that is what has troubled me all morning. That’s why I keep thinking about feeling worthless.

I suffocated Annousha. I know that I did. I remember it. I had a clue about this during class when the idea suddenly popped into my head that I have killed someone and then a clear memory of it a few weeks. I know my dad must have made me, or I understood even if he didn’t tell me directly that I needed to do it. I am not a Mary Bell, so damaged I can kill a toddler and show no remorse until I am grown and healed and released into society again. I couldn’t do that on my own. My dad made me.

I held C with the same hands that killed someone. How can I? How can I touch anyone?

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