Balloon Story: On Comparing Trauma
Yeah, it’s still OK to feel things about the little problems.
Content warning: graphic description of suicide
When I was a small child, I accidentally let go of a balloon that I was holding while I was in the car on the way home from a trip to Disney World.
It escaped through the moon roof, into the humid Florida night.
As an adult, I found my roommate dead in her bed, naked, surrounded by kitchen knives, suffocated by a plastic bag. She had been there for two days and I, hoping to perform some miracle, attempted CPR.
My fingertips turned blue. Hers were black. I felt like I was being sucked into a black hole; not bringing her back but being drawn into the realm of the dead; losing myself in it. It was like a rift in the fabric of spacetime. A supernova. I was chasing a ghost down into the rift. Chest compressions only began to release the stench of rot into the house.
I kept my knives under a towel for six months. A bag with a happy face on it seemed like a grotesque mockery of a funerary mask. I got my groceries in paper.
I was haunted (I wouldn’t dare use the word triggered!) by blankets, doorknobs, all these objects that had played roles in the discovery of her body.
I walked by the house sometimes — I had moved to another house only blocks away — and saw that the windows, somehow, had become bowed out, like some force was inside, pushing against the glass.
I avoided giving detailed descriptions of the event because I was afraid it would stick in the minds of others; like the image was an infectious disease. Like if they knew what I’d experienced, it would be like they’d been there too.
But I know it doesn’t really work that way.
Sometimes I still think it is sad that I lost the balloon.