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So we’ve come to the end of another year. In some ways it seems so ridiculous to be reflective because of an arbitrary day on the calendar. One day is the same as the next. 24 hours long. Waking in the morning and going to bed at night. Work. Meals. Bills.
It IS different though. Because we make it so. And as I look back at 2013, at what was the saddest and hardest year I have ever experienced, I react with a bittersweet mixture of gladness and melancholy that the year is over. Why would I regret the death of 2013? Should I not be ecstatic that it’s finally over? This year of pain and loss, grief and sorrow? Make no mistake. I am happy to see it go. In my mind at least, I have been able to pretend that midnight tonight is some sort of threshold to cross to better times. That immediately after the countdown, glass clinking and kisses that we’ll be forging a new and better path for all.
So from where then comes the regret? Only this. That this magic door of new years, that takes us from one calendar page to another, takes us in to a year in which my daughter never lived. It takes us further and further away from hearing her voice, for seeing her alive and well.
True, She died very early in 2013. It had barely begun. And in a week’s time I will have to jump the hurdle of her “Anniversary.” But she lived in 2013. 2014, she will not. And that fills me with a hollow sadness deeper than the usual. But I also look back on 2013 and see the things that made it better than I could have hoped. And it’s people. Family and friends that made me feel more loved than I have ever in my life. Do any of you know how much you mean to me? Do you know what it is that you really did for me? You may think you do, but you really don’t. The small things that were nothing to you, meant much more to me. And it’s only because of your character that you’d be unaware that you did so much without even knowing it. I can say this without a doubt, that if my daughter were able to, she would smile, and hug you, and thank you for taking care of her Dad. It was her way.
That was the back.
and what of the now? The now is a tired man, who’s come through a little piece of hell; a battle-scarred warrior who didn’t put up that much of a fight.
The now is a point in time where I have the choice to either fall back, back in to the misery that I’ve come through. Or a chance to fall forward. Stumbling forward, seeking better. My heart says fall back. My soul screams push forward. My brain says do neither. But I have hands on my back. The same hands that held me up, from falling backwards in to ruin, are the ones that are now pushing me ever so slightly forward. past the tipping point, so that I fall forward in to my future, instead of dwelling in my past. And although a large part of my past, the most difficult part of it, will come with me, I move. I move forward.
What is the forward? That’s the real mystery. I told my dear wife that the Christmas gift I wanted to give her was one that I couldn’t wrap, and that I couldn’t promise. A better life than we’ve had to this point. A recovery from the shadow of grief that has covered us this past 360 odd days, Removing the black veil. The mystery is not in what we want to do. Travel. See the world, live to the fullest. Make every day as incredible as we can. Love our friends. Love each other, in short, live completely. The mystery is whether or not this life will afford us the opportunities to do all that we want to do. But falling forward, we will do it. Live like we never have before. Falling forward, looking to enjoy what time we have left.
And as silly as the new years thing is, I indulge myself in another dream. In that when I fall forward, I can imagine that some of the hands on my back, are hers. That I can hear her laugh like crystal bells, and whispered words. “Go, daddy. Go and live.”
Just like she would want. Falling forward.
I have had enough. Too much time bowed under the pressures of life. Too much time with face in hands, sobbing; too much grief and tragedy.
A life gripped by fear and insecurity and regret. A life that stripped away the confidence that i once carried myself with. Determination to better myself swallowed by self-doubt. A half-life, more than a real one. An existence with the desire for meaningful human contact, coupled with difficulty not loathing most of humanity. A life bitter at the unfairness of it all, while feeling like a hypocritical monster because I have it better than so many. A life of dreams flown by, and out of reach.
It sounds all so familiar, like the dark thoughts that consumed my daughters soul, and eventually her life; a crippling dissatisfaction of what this universe has had to offer. Unable to count the diamonds of blessings among the piles of shit. The difference is I don’t have mental illness as an excuse.
So I come to the end of the rope, grasping feebly. And I choose to let go.
But I let go to something different from my end. I let go of my expectation of what life was supposed to be. I release my assumption that there should be fairness or balance or peace for us all.
No peace. War.
I choose to let go and fight. Fight a futile battle, against the universe. Against the cold and uncaring randomness, that cycles on and on, mindless of the struggles and pains that follow in its wake.
I will fight. To scrape every ounce of life from the universe. To extract every moment of care, love and happiness that I can either give, or receive.
The universe doesn’t care, my war against it is as meaningless as a speck of dust landing on an elephant. Irrelevant, meaningless and of no notice.
But I will fight. I will do my all to let my cherished friends and family know that I care. I will make life as meaningful as I can for me and my beloved. I will dance, and write, and drink, and laugh madly, sometimes when I’d rather crumple in tears.
I will live, and in doing so defy the grind of reality.
And in the end, it will win. One day, the universe will crush me in to dust like all those before me, and will go on and on as I slip further and further in to a place where I am not even remembered. I will lose battles; friendships valued may be lost. Those that once cared about me may stop. Disappointments will continue to wash over me like an endless tide.
I will stand at the grave of someone who I love again.
And I will die.
But I will go to me end with my arms raised in victory, not bowed in failure. That I fought, that I loved. And that I will be remembered, at least until those that remember me are also taken by ceaseless time.
As futile as a war as it is, I will not stop. A life any other way is not worth living.
I chose to live.
We recently passed thanksgiving here in Canada. With apologies to our American cousins, we do it at a different time of the year. The benefits of Canadian thanksgiving is warmer days and some leaves still on the trees. American thanksgiving is superior because of all the football. This is a piece I wrote about thanksgiving, be it Canadian or American, it’s all the same.
Thanksgiving. A time to gather with family, and give thanks for our blessings. A time to look at all the things in your life that are good, and FEEL good about it. But what about when you don’t feel particularly thankful? What if things in your life have conspired to take away so much, security, love, money, loved ones? What if you don’t even know if you believe in the entity to which you are supposedly give thanks anymore? That’s always been a struggle, and it’s not one that’s gotten any easier: Give thanks for what?
For the food on the table? Don’t I work for that? My family? What about the ones that are a constant annoyance or disappointment? And isn’t a loving family something that should be a given, not a special blessing? Give thanks for strength, because you’ve managed to endure? It would be far better to be thankful for things not happening that are horrible, instead of gratitude of surviving tragedy.
How many people are sitting down to the table to give thanks, and their minds are consumed with their worries instead of their wonders?
An empty seat that was once filled. A husband, a parent… a child. Sitting up to a fine feast of sandwiches or cold cuts because a turkey wasn’t in the budget, and next month won’t be easier. Leaving the table early because you have to go work another shift at the job that isn’t really making you happy, and isn’t really paying for everything? Finishing your thanksgiving meal with a handful of pills to keep your disease at bay for another day?
Give thanks? Why? To whom? What for?
I have only one answer: Because even if you don’t have someone to thank, our souls simply must respond. To the good, to the lovely, to the intimate wonders that we create together. Does it matter if you don’t believe that they are provided by a benevolent supernatural being? No. Does it matter if you just haven’t felt much of anything but thanklessness and pain? No. Your soul, be it figment or reality, sings at the small things.
The friends who stood by you. Their words, their laughter. Give thanks to them for being in your life. The piece of music that brings tears to your eyes. Give thanks to the creator of the beauty. To the lover in your life, who takes you away from all of it, if only for moments at a time… give thanks to them for loving you.
Give thanks, yes. Thanks. Give thanks to the pinpoints of light in the often dark room, that makes life worth anything at all.
I’m just an opinionated jerk. We’ll…. we’re all opinionated, and jerks in various levels of vocal expression and for lack of a better word, jerkiness. I just take ownership of my loud mouth and boorish ability to offend.
If you’re reading this, you’ll sooner or later be offended, or think I’m an idiot, or presume I think I’m better than I really am. I’m comfortable with that. When you have an ex-wife, you get used to all types of criticism that doesn’t change what you are or how you want to say it.
Fact is though, one of the truly important rights we have is freedom to express ourselves as we see fit. So many in the world have no such right. Often enough we use that right to say or do incredibly stupid things. Just turn on the T.V. and watch our stupidity in action.
Right of freedom of expression also dictates that we can be critical of other points of view. Nothing changes in our world without the conflict of argument. The world would remain flat, the sun would circle the earth, and bathing would be bad for your health, if nobody stood up and countered popular opinion. If nobody argued. If nobody disagreed with mob-think. there is nobody more stupid than all of us at the same time.
Not that I believe that in writing a blog I’ll be affecting the world in any meaningful way. This will probably go unread by most. But if you’ll permit me my intellectual self gratification, I’ll be more than happy to permit yours. If you read this blog and it offends, comment. If you read it and disagree, discuss. Argue. Even call me a moron. I can take it. At many times in my life I am, for all intents and purposes, a mouth breathing cretin.
Such is the spice of life.