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  • Aimee Williams

Chased by Trauma

I was having a relatively routine day. I was on lunch break from clinicals and driving to Panera to pick up food. I passed a vehicle with a license plate which read, "BATMAN". "That's funny," I thought to myself. I pictured the owner as a comic book fan. For most people this would have been the end of it, the stopping point of this tidbit of random information. I think this is where my attention would have normally stopped as well.

Yesterday for whatever reason, my brain made other associations. They didn't start as anything bad. I remembered how Chris' spelling was always, in his words, "creative"... Because of this, he had saved a friend of ours in his phone as Nicole "Batman" rather than "Bateman". Of course, when she found out about this misspelling she thought it was hilarious so he kept it. As a joke we would sometimes call her Batman.

From this lighthearted memory my brain free associated to a much darker place as it is wont to do. I remembered the ER waiting room at Deaconess hospital that summer night... all the friends who sat there, somberly awaiting news. I remember Nicole rushing in, having left her nursing baby with a friend in the middle of the night so she could come to me. I remember falling in to her arms after I told her he was dead. She'd known Chris longer than I had... they had been in youth group together at church from junior high on.

Later that morning, when we finally left the ER, Nicole and her husband Russell opened their home to our brokenhearted family so we would not have a long drive home at almost 4 am. We walked through the doors and with bloodshot, tear-stained eyes, they welcomed us. We were given clean beds so we could try to rest until daybreak. When I got up, their sweet roly poly baby boy gave me a glimpse that life went on, as my own child leapt in my womb. Life goes on, yes, even when the world seems to come crashing down all around you.

All this swirled in my mind because I saw a license plate bearing the letters, "BATMAN". My heart raced and chest was tight. My eyes misted and I continued to drive, hands gripping the wheel. I got to Panera and pulled in to the curbside pick-up spot. I took some deep breaths and electronically checked in.

Yet another day in the life of living with PTSD... Most of the time life goes on and I'm not living in that deep pain like I did at the beginning. There are moments, however, when the trauma makes sure to catch me off guard and rear its ugly head. It's been almost seven years now.


Side note: find you a friend like Nicole “Batman” and hold on tight ❤️ (PC: Jenn Fortune Photography)


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