With each new day we are supposed to be able to experience a new, different set of possibilities. Study the past or you will be doomed to repeat it! Still carrying the ghosts of a past relationship, doing everything possible to not repeat the pitfalls that caused things to go so very wrong? I’ve got that sitting here in my handy suitcase ready to be packed into whatever form of transport we are using today! The only issue is that in some ways I have chosen to purchase the matching carry-on. If I don’t come to terms with some of these things, I might even consider the toiletry bag and possibly the garment bag to round out the set.
For years I have tried to figure out a way to deal with the loss of a friend. Someone who from time to time I try to capture in this blog, some record of the person I loved and want the world to have had a chance to know. Even now, while I’m trying to get my cancer under control, I’m sitting in her parent’s house. Two people who love me enough to kick me in the ass when I need it. Not that my family hasn’t been willing, but I have always been able to run here for protection when things have been at their worst.
Patre was a lot of things to me, a lot of firsts in my life. Her life and her death to this day have a very strange effect. She is the reason why when someone I know is hurt or sick I try to do my best to help. Even if I can’t do a thing, even when I do the wrong thing; it’s because in my head that 15 year old boy still lives inside of me and is scared. That scared kid inside the body of a 43 year old man reacts differently, my coping mechanism is hampered by that 15 year old me.
When Whitney was sick, any time she got sick, it would bring me back to that place where I was sitting in the I.C.U with Patre. It took me a few years of us being together to get the courage to talk to her about everything that went along with those fears. [more than I am willing to go into here, only three people know everything and those conversations hurt every time to have.] It was my job, my responsibility, and my pleasure to want to take care of her the best I could. But those fears crept back any time she retreated to her parent’s house so mommy could take over. The anger, frustration, all of those feelings of being helpless and marginalized meant that there were times when things got heated.
The biggest reason I have remained in Newton, MA rather than head back to Maryland is that the hurt little boy needed help recently and I didn’t know where to turn. Patre’s parent’s know almost everything about me. They know the good as well as the bad, or even the terrifying aspects of who I can be at times. I know that’s why their granddaughter stayed here last week, to help me deal with life. She asks lots of questions and there is no way to get angry with a 13 year old. Only one friend in Maryland has ever seen me cry, I lock it away and pretend I’m okay. Lying to them as much as lying to myself.
Last night I was up until 3 a.m., just laying around in bed not wanting to move around and disturb anyone. My brain trying to fight through the depression wondering if what made me laugh yesterday, which made me sad today, is going to be the thing that makes me fearful or worse tomorrow. I look at the picture of Patre sitting on the dresser and remember something she told me while I was nervously suiting up to tryout for baseball. I’ve got my mask perched on top of my head, trying to measure the speed the coach was pitching at and she leans over to me and grabbed my chest protector. “Vanity press is going to be the end of you!”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“Stop worrying about trying to look good for me and go do your best!” And with that she left the gym. [This is December inside to deal with the cold weather!]
She got sick over that Christmas break and never saw me play. It was just the back-up and I only saw time in the later innings. But I went through that season always imagining her sitting somewhere clapping for me. [like I said, she left a mark that I gladly wear on my sleeve].
I’ve told people over the years that I have some heavy bags that I drag behind me. I’m vague enough so that they know the general ideas, just not all of the details. No reason to burden some of them with my baggage, they have some of their own to carry. I just hope some day the guy who stepped behind a plate and just tried comes home for a while. I like the memory of just having someone help me unstrap and tell me they were proud of me. That’s something missing in my world.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Baggage Check.”