“Lori,” Jesse whispers, clutching me tighter. “Lori, I think you’re going insane.”

It is in one of the in-between times, when Mom has decided to let me out for a while. Perhaps she has grown fearful of Social Services. Perhaps she intends to inspect the house from roots to rafters and wants me out of the way. Perhaps she’s simply sick of watching me all day and all night. I don’t know. I know better than to question it.

My friends and I are at a hotel for a school function of some sort. I don’t remember exactly why. Band, or perhaps Key Club? It doesn’t matter. I have reached a point where nothing seems very real anymore.

I am wearing an orange dress my mother bought me. It’s hideous, but I don’t realize that until later. Jesse is with me. He is holding me. I am grateful for that.

We are on one of the upper floors. We are beside a railing. It overlooks the center of the hotel. We are talking. I don’t know what about.

I can see us standing there together. Me in that ugly orange dress with my hair cut short, my face buried in his shoulder. Him with his arms wrapped in a circle around me. I can see it, see it as if I’m above it and not inside it, and in my mind I’ve gotten up onto the railing and I’m teetering there, on the verge of going over, and I don’t know how to stop it; don’t know if I even care anymore about trying to stop it.

“Lori,” Jesse whispers, clutching me tighter. “Lori, I think you’re going insane.”

* * *

This is an excerpt from my memoir On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened: A Daughter’s Memoir of Mental Illness I described in this post how I recently inquired of some of my high school friends whether they had in their possession any photos I might be able to use in assembling my book trailer. Imagine my reaction when my friend Ben – who was always the big picture-taker of the group – responded with this photograph:

image0

Photo courtesy of Ben Sanford

Stunned and happy and heartbroken. To see that moment, captured forever on film, somehow makes it all the more devastating, all the more real. The picture can’t tell what we were saying or thinking. Yet somehow it does. Somehow, it does.

18 thoughts on ““Lori,” Jesse whispers, clutching me tighter. “Lori, I think you’re going insane.”

  1. Charli Mills

    Whew…your ability to tell your story in such deep ways takes my breath away. The photo even feels surreal for me! I can’t imagine having a moment like that during a time as what you endured show up on film. Now, if that happened today, sure! Keep push this story out.

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    1. lorilschafer Post author

      Yeah, it is really strange that receiving that photograph has been the eeriest part of this whole experience. I’m kind of glad there aren’t more – not sure those are the mementos I really want. :(

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  2. Life Isn't Broken (@LifeIsntBroken)

    Visual flashbacks. So glad you didn’t go over that railing (at least literally.) I know how it feels to go over it emotionally time and time again and still find ourselves in the same place we were before. So glad for the passing of time and the healing and lessons it brings. Happy New Year

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. TanGental

    That must have been a jolt, seeing that. And the surrounds. It’s that that catches me in photos where I recall the moment but then see the context, the humdrumminess of it all and I can put myself back there even more deeply than when I only have the memory and not the image. Touching stuff

    Liked by 2 people

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