I Met M

I left work a bit early today. I had been there more than nine hours without much of a break. Spring arrived and I wanted to play in a moment of its warmth before the moment passed away. I ride the bus to work so Emma can use the car. This arrangement works better for both of us mostly because I don't enjoy driving and because it's a better choice for Mother Earth, not to mention, my bank account.

While waiting in line to board the bus, I saw two women hug goodbye, wishing each other well before heading in separate directions. As one of them turned to walk past me, I realized it was my friend M whom I'd not seen in a few years. I wondered if she would remember me if I caught her attention. As she passed by through the crowd of people, I reached out and tapped her arm lightly to get her attention. For a moment I thought she had not noticed but she stopped, realizing she had been tagged, and looked around. I waved to her and, after a brief moment of confusion, she exclaimed, "Oh my God! I can't believe it!" We quickly embraced. She asked me what I was doing there and told me I looked good and then, without stopping, told me she was returning to Goffstown the next morning. My heart stopped and my spirit railed against the announcement. I shook my head, NO!

She smiled gently, confirming it was true. She would be gone for two years - same old thing. I looked at my bus. It was going to be leaving. I wanted to say something that would mean something but I couldn't think of anything to say other than "No. I am sorry." My head began swimming in memories. My bus was preparing to leave

I motioned that I needed to catch it and she told me to keep in touch - that I knew where to find her and knew the address. I nodded my head. I knew the address all too well. I squeezed her hand but never did say anything meaningful. I should have told her I loved her, to be strong, something - anything.

Instead, I got on the bus and began to cry silently. It's been six years since Goffstown. I looked out the window and thought about the contrast between my life now and the life M would be returning to the next day. An immensity of guilt washed over me, settling at high tide. I want to ride its wave back out to sea like a Titan. Perhaps it is time. After all, I can ride the next tide home but M can't - neither can the rest.

Most of the people close to me tell me to put this behind me, to forget about it. They tell me to focus on the good things I have in my life now, that I did all I could and now I just deserve to live happily. If I try to talk about it they tell me it is too sad. We change to the subject to other matters. Usually I feel a sense of guilt for thinking about it - for thinking about them. I hide my memories inside of me. I hide the grief, the honesty, the aching - no one wants to see it. It makes them uncomfortable. I suppose this is the way some war veterans must feel. To experience something so profound then never truly be free to speak of it except those who were there with you.

It isn't this way with everyone. There are quite a few people who are anxious to hear about my experience and willing to listen. It's just balancing the wishes of the people who are closest to me versus my own desire to do what I said I would do - what I feel I am meant to do.

I haven't had the strength to do it. It was harder than I thought leaving Goffstown prison. Life outside actually broke me. If it wasn't for the medication I take each day, I wouldn't be here. It seems my body has decided to interpret all of life as one thing... trauma. It lost its ability to trust and has completely burned itself out on hypervigilance. My spirit, however, is a far more resilient partner, willing to press on despite the dissapoinments. I don't know if, in this life, I will ever be whole again but I cling to the faith that it will be different in a life to come.

... never finished but published at a later date ...