I didn’t tell anybody this, but about a month before my mother died, I started having hallucinations. They were minor. Not much more than corner-of-your-eye stuff—but definitely more than that.

The things I saw were in the corner of my eye most of the time, but they weren’t just flashes or perceived movement. They had shapes. They were things. The one that sticks out the most in my mind was when I was in the backyard and an animal jumped toward me off the large propane barbecue. It was cat-like, but it wasn’t quite a cat.

It also wasn’t there. It startled me because I wondered how a cat(-like thing) had gotten back there, but when I turned fully toward it and looked around, the yard was completely empty except for me and my dog (who most definitely could not get up on the barbecue even if he’d been near it at the time). There wasn’t even anything around that I could have mistaken for what I saw: no birds, nothing fallen. Just my brain slowly falling apart.

Over the last few months, I’ve talk to my friends (usually remotely, since most aren’t in SoCal) about my “slow descent into madness” or being a half-step away from a fugue state or a full-on break from reality. I think some of them thought I was kidding. I was not.

While that overall feeling lasted until the day my mother died, the hallucinations lasted only a couple weeks. I tried to explain it away with normal things like my eyeglass prescription or not getting enough sleep, but the truth is I still got as much sleep as I ever did (I  tend to average just under six hours a night) and the hallucinations were gone a week before my new glasses arrived.

The only positive of the worst possible thing coming to pass is that you no longer need to stress about it coming to pass, so what I was calling the slow descent essentially disappeared when Mom did. Of course, now I’m starting to notice the slight tug of depression off and on. At first, I thought it was just normal grief, but when a truck almost takes you out on the freeway and your first thought is, That’d probably have been fine, it’s worth at least considering that you might be headed for trouble.

I know I’m too ornery for a therapist right now, which is a shame because I feel like grief counseling could help a lot. I already know I’ll be shitty and snide, though, because every single question posed to me makes me shitty and snide right now, and all therapists do is ask questions. Maybe at some point in the future.

Oh, but vaguely related to therapy (for me, at least), I’ve decided I’m going to drive Route 66 when this contract job is up. Probably in reverse, so I can start here in California, but that may change. We’ll see. I actually think the trip will help a lot.



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