When I was young, we had neighbors that lived about one city block away or on their 40 acres of land, and we had a path that I would go on to get there. Hunting together in the woods was our favorite past time. When we were no more than fifteen, we were walking by the pond on our neighbor’s property when we saw something at the edge of the pond. Since it was beginning to thaw, we could see just a bit of a man in the water but under the ice. It was clear to both of us that he was dead, so we turned and ran to the neighbors’ house and my friends father called the sheriff.
We recognized the man from the community. We weren’t even sure who his family was. I knew that he walked everywhere. I did not see him often. I didn’t know where he lived but I guessed he was going home, somewhere close to us, maybe deeper in the woods.
After we found him, there were stories about what happened, but we never knew for sure. Now at 71, when my wife triggered this memory, I told her that I assumed he froze to death, that he fell through the ice and drowned or couldn’t get out of the pond and died there. I told her I really didn’t know much about him. Once I knew who his family was I did know his son and how his son drank a lot. Not all the time but it was before and after his father died, as of course, the wife asked if his drinking was after his father died. When my wife asked, “Did you ever find out what happened? They can determine if he froze or drowned.” I said no. She said, “I am too curious to just let it go. I would want to know.” I told her that her condition isn’t curiosity but just plain being nosey. We both laughed. It isn’t everyone that will find a dead body in a primarily frozen pond.
As my wife and I spoke, I wondered why we, as boys never went ice skating there and even swimming in the hot summer. And then I remembered that we had much better places to swim and much better places to ice skate. We only needed to go on bike or motorcycle in the summer and get a ride or walk in the winter. No need to skate or swim on that small pond. That was more the place where we would hear crickets, and frogs, and see ducks, and bats and other critters and get attacked by mosquitos and wood ticks while playing in the woods. There is a much easier access to the pond when it is winter, otherwise it is almost covered by tall grass and brush in the summer.
My wife likes to write and she was looking for a story about a frozen pond and I remembered how my friend and I found a dead man in our woods. After that short discussion, we talked about how we are both recovering from alcoholism. Her for almost 41 years and me for almost 31 years. She asked, “Do you think that experience had anything to do with your drinking or sobering up. We will often go to drinking or using drugs or get into some other addiction to medicate trauma and I would put finding a dead body in the category of trauma.” I said that I have never thought about that before. I didn’t talk about it in treatment or in my recovery and I don’t remember talking about it when drinking. Considering it was so many years ago, I don’t think it bothers me at all.
There were other things that were more disturbing. While in the Army, in Germany, I pulled a woman out of a lake that had been dead for some time, I saw a soldier's arm being blown off. And maybe more disturbing than the others, I saw one car hit another car and a woman’s arm was just hanging there after the crash and I thought in the instance that she was dead and then how fast something like that can happen. Then I thought I was so glad, my little girls who were in my car didn’t see that. My wife then said, “All of those experiences sound like trauma to me. I know we are not all going to experience trauma in the same way! How many people have those trauma’s? The experiences that you witnessed are more than many.” I reminded her that there are people that learn to kill people. Then she reminded me that many have PTSD for life after that experience too.
Now, my wife would probably feel like she needs to address this if it was her. I don’t have that same thought. She would go to therapy, talk about it until it was resolved for her. If feelings and emotions come up, maybe she would ask for EMDR, whatever that is. Just for those of you that are like my wife. I am alright and plan to stay in recovery and I will get help if I need to about this issue or others.
About the Creator
I am married with 7 children, 27 grands, and 12 great-grandchildren. I am a culture consultant part-time. I write A Poem a Day in February for 8 years now. I wrote 4 - 50,000 word stories in NaNoWriMo. I write on Vocal/Medium weekly.