“If I were to die today, I would die the happiest man on earth, with no regrets”. That is what he told me the day before he died, Easter Sunday, as we drove home with food from the store for his parents who were “stopping by” for lunch. He clasped my hand, folded it in his as he shifted the truck. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy or content. He was my everything, my future, my past, and my present.
How was I to know that within the next 24-hours I would be in a strange web or maze of confusion over his sudden death.
Seasons may change
Winter to Spring
But I will love you, ’till the end of time
I used to sing those lines in my head as I trained for long-distance running on the trails that criss-crossed one another behind our property. Especially if I was struggling – to know he was home, waiting for me, it gave me the kick I needed to get past the pain, the stitch, the exhaustion.
And then, poof. Like Verbal in “The Usual Suspects”, the hand to mouth motion. Not that he was the devil, far from it. But once he was gone, it was as if he had been a dream, as if he had never existed. As if the wrong prince had kissed me and I awoke to find the blissful dream I had enjoyed for 9 years was gone forever.
This has been a very hard week, as it is the anniversary. And I am alone, the first time in many years, since that day. It has been an odd time. But I am not allowed to live in the past. Not with my family. My partner has been more generous. I have been faking it well at work.
And so it is Easter, once again. I think I have always hated this “holiday”. It was a reason for my father to get us out of bed long before the sun had awoken for the “sunrise service”. If that wasn’t bad enough, we then had to sit through another hour-long service in our Sunday best, either coming off a sugar-high, if we could get it past our mom, or itching to get home to shove our mouths’ with jelly beans. He was a minister, just as an FYI. Everything revolved around the damn church. I’m sorry if I offend or sound bitter, but when your father tells the family that the church and his parishioners come before you, it’s a hard pill for a 7-year old to take. I could never talk to him about anything. Not my fears, not my disbelief, nothing.
And perhaps I understand it to some degree. Obviously, I get my mental health issues from him. The panic are attacks from mom, but everything else is definitely a gift that keeps on giving from him.
They were all good to me immediately following the news, I see that in retrospect though I was so bitter then. It was a week before my brother was to be married in Hawaii, and they were all going. He and I had never planned to. I didn’t know, as I am sure they did not, that the loss of him would unlock the cages of the demons that had been kept at bay for 9 years. That I would become the monster that had always jokingly been my nickname, growing up.
But I did. Maybe it’s called being human, but you have to realize, according to my father and the way he doles out love, “being human” does not pass muster. So, perhaps I would give myself more of a break if that wasn’t an omnipresent weight on my shoulders. But it is, and it’s heavy to carry, especially as I became my own person. I have been fortunate that I have found unconditional love in my life, as I never found it with my father. I don’t know how many people do find it with other humans – dogs, yes.
And so, here I am, alone on Easter, staring at a self-portrait he did of himself (that looks nothing like him, but embodies everything that was him), stoned at 1:17 PM. I live in Florida now – for how long, I do not know. But it is a far cry from my life in Massachusetts, 13 years ago. One I never imagined, and once I was with him, never wanted. Fuck this world.
And like a piece of taffy, I am being pulled in 10 different directions by hungry children: stay here; come back to NY; help with my son; help with Mom; move to S. America. Let me live my goddamn life. Because that is all I can handle right now.
This is NOT the life I imagined. Academia sucks, and if anyone tells you differently, they’ve enjoyed to kool-aid. It’s not pretty, it’s cut-throat, and I think I’d be much better with this, with him by my side. I find it hard to find my Buddha nature. I fall far too often. I am imperfect. And I hate that.
I wanna get me a little oblivion, baby. To keep myself away from myself and me… Genetics do not allow you to do that. I am so glad I chose and fought at an early age to have my tubes tied. I would never wish this on another human being, even those I loathe. And there are several. But living with this disease is painful, every day. Not knowing, from moment to moment, how you will react: what will set you off or what will cause the chasm of depression to open and swallow you for god-knows how long. But perhaps it will be mania? And wouldn’t that be lovely? Everything washed in vibrant colors. But I find that is a rare occurrence, these days. And it pisses me off that those who I confide in ask me if when I am happy if I am having a “manic day”. Fuck you.
But perhaps what pisses me off the most is I lost him when I was just emerging, when I was just coming into my own, with him rooting for me to succeed, against all the odds. Hell, we were emerging as a pair, bonded by marriage, something neither one of us ever imagined, but was perfect bliss. Goddammit, I miss him. I want to scream at the night sky for taking him from me. I want to beat the walls and cut my skin and curse every god and goddess that ever existed.
And thus, another year passes by. His memory fades in others’ minds. It is always fresh in mine. I cannot help taking umbrage at the lack of understanding, the sweeping it under the rug, and the countless times I’ve been told to move on. I don’t know if I ever fully will be able to. Because I wished for him, and he appeared. No matter how many times I try to repeat that wish, he is gone. And I have no idea where. Perhaps that is what frightens me the most.
© Sorrow & Kindness