When people think of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the first thing that comes to their minds is typically war, or more specifically, the traumatized soldiers who return from war, jumping at the slightest sharp noise. Rarely do people think of children when they hear the term.
When I was a child, my father spent many hours at our kitchen table, writing a book. I watched him. He had boxes of notebooks piling up, and more than that, he filled every empty crevice in those boxes with napkins that he wrote notes on. It was quite a hectic mess, but he never stopped writing except to play solitaire occasionally.
He had the goal of becoming published, but never submitted any of it. I picked up on this passion. I wrote small things, mostly inspired by the fantasy games that I played.
Then, at the age of 19, I came home from work. We were living in the country near Tyler, Texas, which was a heavily wooded area where we owned around 20 acres. I went straight to bed that night, only saying goodnight to my step-mother. I wanted to say goodnight to my father as well, but he was already in bed.
Not more than an hour later, my step-mother came bursting into my room to tell me that my father had passed away. He suffered from congestive heart failure, and though this news was not unexpected, it was a very painful time. I’m having a hard time writing this, even now.
That same night, I found his journal sitting on the coffee table right in front of my father’s chair. Curious to see his last entry, I flipped it to the last page. Scrawled on the first line and on a page of its own, there was the message . . .
“Please write more. . . .”
I feel, more than anything, that my father knew his end was coming, and that his last message was for me.