Last week, we talked about the Hero’s Journey. My journey began with fear and anguish. My early years of school were filled with trauma. The past eighteen months have yielded their own trauma across the world. Here is an excerpt from a book that I am working on:
Ring. Ring. I pick up the phone, “Is your father or mother there?”
Handing the phone off to my dad, I run off to play like any other 10-year-old girl. Little did I know that call was going to change my life forever.
It was the third family trauma of my 10 years. The first happened when I was about four. My brother got sick and needed to be in isolation in the hospital. In those days, there was no one allowed to visit. I could feel the tension at home but had no idea what the tension was about. As an adult, I came to understand that my parents were struggling with a son in the hospital that they could not be alongside and a baby due in less than a month.
The second trauma happened about a year later as I was about to enter Kindergarten. My mom’s legs swelled. She could barely walk. We were hours from home having just left my adopted uncle in western PA. We made back home, and she was off to the hospital. Meanwhile, my siblings and I were split between grandparents.
Up to this point in my life, I was a bubbly, talkative child. What happened next, took me inside myself for the next 40 years. I absorbed the pain from everyone around me and held all emotion inside. I never asked questions. I did what was expected, but “just got by.”
After handing up the phone, we were rushed into the car. The conversation between my parents was fragmented. What did they say? Where’s Patti? How about Mom and Dad? Isn’t tonight the banquet?
So many questions. Not many answers. These were the days in which directions were, as we joke, go to the second cow, and make a right. As we passed the ambulance building on the way to the site, the ambulance was still in the bay.
My mother got out of the car and ended up in the ambulance giving directions. We followed, my dad and three kids ages 10, 7, 6.
As we approached the narrow road my uncle lived on, my dad could see light flashing everywhere. Turning sharply and calling out, “Hang on kids”, we veered off the road. The next few minutes lead us to a fun and bumpy ride down the old access road by the creek. Giggles and laughter were soon silenced by the droves of people everywhere.
My dad parked the car facing my what was once my uncle’s garage. Firemen with hoses dumping gallons of water everywhere. Where was Mike, my dad’s brother?
What happened? I couldn’t move. My eyes peeled to all the excitement. My brother and sister were also silent.
After what seemed to be hours, my brother shouted, “there’s Mommy.” Hearing him, she gestured for us to remain where we were.
By this point, we all three had enough and the typical sibling picking began. Goofing off in the back seat was quickly interrupted when Mom and Dad got back in the car. Ambulance following, we headed back the bouncy access road, no giggles this
time. Feeling the stress and anguish on our parents, we sat motionless in the back seat.
Arriving at the hospital, I could hear my uncle yelling as they opened the ambulance doors, a deep, agonizing call and moan.
Dad pacing, Mom trying to keep us distracted. Every time someone came through the door, their attention shifted. The groaning from my uncle pierced my ears as the door swung.
The next few days are a blur. My uncle lived eight more days in true agony.
My parents tried to keep our lives as normal. On the day of the funeral, we stayed home with a friend of the family. I know at the time that it was the right thing to do. However, for years, it was a trauma that haunted me. Why couldn’t I go?
What’s your story? We all have one. Have you written it down? My challenge to you is write out the trauma. You’re healing and vulnerability with your students could be that spark that ignites their Hero’s Journey.
Need help to write your story? Kary Oberbrunner helps ignite your flame. Unhackable teaches you how to access your story and become productive in the process.