Tag Archives: Baton Rouge

PTSD

Despite all my blowback from Zach’s death, I really hadn’t thought about my reactions in anything like the terms usually used to describe PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is most commonly referenced, in my experience, to soldiers after having been in a shooting war. Nowadays, Iraq and Afghanistan are the poster children, but many people came home from Vietnam with it. No doubt many came home from Korea and World War II with it as well, although the syndrome wasn’t recognized in the same way then.

Some of these countries have ongoing trauma, but out of the remaining ones, I’m sure German, Japanese, Russian soldiers came home with PTSD. Vietnamese and Koreans never had to leave home to get it.

So I don’t want to equate my feelings with those of soldiers – of any nation – who have spent months or years in war zones, killing people, seeing their friends killed, and nearly being killed themselves. But the other day, as I was driving on a two lane road at dusk with oncoming traffic going 50 or 60 miles an hour, as I was, I had a little twitch. And that image of Zach’s broken body flashed before my eyes again and I for some reason thought,’ PTSD.’

I haven’t been to a therapy session since last spring. I haven’t been to a good therapy session since Dr Perry left in January. I had a phone session with Linda S that was not satisfying and inconclusive. See my posts on ‘Goals’. I don’t think I will start up again with either although I have had ideas of trying to contact Dr Perry and do some kind of long distance therapy. So far, no action on that.

During the last month, as I was often going to work during regular rush hour, there were times when I felt myself getting extra twitchy while driving, while watching other people do really stupid things on the road. Except for the other day, all the driving I’ve done here in Washington has been fear free. I picked up my rental car today and drove up to a music store about an hour north of Duvall, then came home on a state highway that was mostly two lane. Perhaps I was distracted by having a new car to drive, or by the scenery, but I had no flashbacks. I do often take note when I am driving at 50 – 55 miles an hour of how fast the trees are going by. Sometimes I think of someone hitting my car at that speed.

I think the day will come when I will go back to Baton Rouge and stand along that road and time the cars leaving that intersection. Jake sold the house and lives in Las Vegas now. Micah and Julie are still down there so I will no doubt ask them about it again. The second anniversary of that awful night is next week but I’ve already decided that I will only celebrate Zach’s birthday any more, not his death day.

a happier Zach story

I thought I might have details on this in my own journals but a trip down memory lane found only a note that we went out for dinner. A dedicated journal writer I’m not, although in fairness who could have guessed how precious those encounters would become.

I was surprised to find out that I didn’t go to Louisiana to visit Zach for almost three years after I went with him down there in 2011 on his move from Oregon. Of course we saw each other once or twice each year in either Georgia or California.

So it was February 2014 and he was in the midst of trying to find a doctoral program. He had driven by himself to Lawrence, Kansas in January through snowstorms and now he was going to have an interview in Tallahassee at Florida State. I drove with him and we went on to Georgia to visit Jeremy afterwards.

Anyway, the night I arrived in Baton Rouge we went out for dinner to a sports bar he knew. They had an order counter near the front and after we ordered the girl asked Zach his name so they could call us when it was ready. He told her, ‘Roger’, and started walking to the table. I looked at him with a question and he said he just liked to use different names in those places.

A few minutes later they called out ‘Roger’ & we went and got our food. Zach’s quirky humor!

reality

Well I had a couple of doses of reality, as one might say, today. Why would one bit of reality be more significant than another? As one of my science fiction authors said in another context, reality is just a shared hallucination. True enough, but some things are more important than others.

Reality first came to my attention this morning about 6:45 when I woke up but that isn’t what I’m writing about. I had received an email yesterday from the Assistant District Attorney in Baton Rouge telling me that he had finished his investigation of Zach’s death and wanted to discuss his conclusions with me over the phone. I responded telling him that this morning was a good time and he called me about an hour ago.

I spent yesterday evening steeling myself for the news that there would be no criminal prosecution and that in fact is what the gentleman had to say. I do not use the word lightly. This man, who I will not here name, was a gentleman from start to finish. This in addition to being completely professional. He was very familiar in our conversation with all aspects of the evidence and circumstances.

Bottom line: he felt that the driver was ‘negligent’ but not ‘criminally negligent’, thus there would be no charges. I’m not going to go into all of his reasons now but they were all good enough.

The ADA was emphatic in telling me that he would be happy to talk to me at any time; answer any questions, etc. I told him how much of the rather fine points I was raising were on the basis of one reading of the police report months ago, that I haven’t been able to look at it with anything close to the objective eye needed for legalistic thinking. He reminded me that the statute of limitations for criminal action is 4 years so there is time.

Towards the end of our conversation he asked what I did for a living. This was after I commented that I could only admire people like him and the police Traffic Homicide Unit who faced death and other horrible things daily and didn’t go crazy. I told him worked at the Symphony Hall in San Francisco. He said how great it must be to work with such a good orchestra and I had to agree. Then I told him how Sarah has been playing with that orchestra as a sub since last fall and that really started the waterworks. I held most of it in until I got off the phone.

After I calmed down I got in the shower and got my second dose of reality. The shower drain was backing up! I choose to interpret this as Zach telling me that I have to press on.