Tag Archives: Jake

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.

celebrating Zach

Zach would have been 28 today. One year ago today, about 100 people gathered in San Francisco to celebrate his life. Every time I had to refer to the gatherings we had a year ago, I kind of choked on the word ‘celebrate’. We celebrate birthdays, we celebrate graduations, we celebrate weddings. We celebrate happy things, in my world. At least in my world before November 14th last year.

Now we gather to celebrate a life, but it’s a life that has ended. It doesn’t seem right.

I’ve said when I visit Rosalie, she shows me how to celebrate life. She lives life. The world is her oyster and she’s discovering something new every day. It was tremendously inspiring to be near her. (Remember, this is a grandparent that lives 3000 miles away talking. I don’t have to deal with the day to day hassles, the illnesses, the sulks.)

This blog is my celebration of Zach’s life. Like Rosalie, it is living. It’s not about Zach, per se, but inspired by Zach, by his discipline, and hopefully by his ability to see all sides of a point.

I remember when Zach told me he had been writing 75-80,000 word a year in a journal. I was impressed, but now that I’ve read much of it and I’ve tried myself to write on a regular basis, I’m in awe. I believe it was his housemate Jake who told me, back in the spring, that they had left his desk as it was as a testament to his work ethic and as an inspiration to him and Micah.

Through us, Zach lives. Happy birthday, son.

ghost bikes

A couple of weeks ago I re-posted a picture Micah had put on Facebook. It’s in this blog post.

Then last week I saw an article in the SF Examiner about ‘ghost bike’ memorials. You can read it here. What caught my eye more than the headline was the picture.

unnamed-9

Now I understand the lineage of what Micah (or Jake) was doing. There are a lot of important issues facing Americans these days and maybe this isn’t the most important but it’s important to me. Almost every day I see drivers doing dangerous things. They run the gamut from changing lanes without using turn signals to running red lights. I mean really red. I often see drivers rushing to be first on merges, too.

It all stems from people thinking they need to get somewhere now. Really, folks, what’s the rush? Three quarters of the time I see a guy (or woman) slide through the red right turn from Linda Mar to Highway 1 without stopping – or sometimes without even slowing down – I pull up along side then at the next light. Are you late to work? Late to getting the kids to school? Going to the grocery store? Hurrying home with your Chinese take out?

Whatever it is, it it worth killing someone? Yeah, I know, you’re a careful driver. I’m sure Shawn R. Allen would have said he was a careful driver before November 14th last year. Maybe he still thinks he is.