I woke this morning from a vivid dream about my sister. She was not aware that she was dead. I was trying to break it to her as succinctly and gently as possible. I explained, almost in one breath, how and when it had happened, and that her son, my nephew, was doing well, ten years old now, living with his other auntie. “He has your freckles” I added. It was a lot to take in at once, and she was a bit stunned. And then I woke up.
It didn’t hit me until later, in the kitchen. I no longer have nightmares about the accident, but I still miss her. Next thing I knew I was sobbing over the dirty dishes. I went back to the bedroom to sob on my husband instead. After a minute he looked at me and said:
“Why is there blood on your face?”
At the same time, I wiped my nose on the back of my hand, and left a long red streak. I made a dive for the emergency roll of toilet paper by the bed. I’ve always been susceptible to nosebleeds, but pregnancy has made this three times as bad. Normally, the sudden runny-nose feeling alerts me and I can catch it before I drip on anything. But I’d been crying and assumed the runny nose was just a runny nose. My husband was somewhat relieved. Apparently the combination of tears and smeared blood made it look like I was bleeding from the eyes.
We both looked like we had narrowly escaped a massacre: The shoulder of his T-shirt was soaked through with blood, along with the neck of my own shirt, with various smears and spatters on our arms and hands, my face, two pillowcases, and one of the bed-sheets (thank goodness I hadn’t made the bed yet!). We gathered up the laundry for a soak in cold water. My husband can’t figure out how I can lose so much blood so quickly and not feel faint. I don’t know. It looks like more than it really is? Lots of practice? There are some days I am half-convinced the sporadic bloodletting serves some greater physiological good– maybe it’s my body’s way of ditching excess iron reserves.
I’ve heard about pregnancy mood swings, and the tendency to cry over any little thing, but… mine don’t usually manifest as tears. I just get cranky and hypercritical. It’s been four years since the accident, and I hardly ever do this any more, so I can probably blame the hormones. But then, maybe it’s regular old grief. It would be nice if I could have a good cry without bleeding everywhere. Hormonal or not, I still miss her.