Reverse Eulogy

Abandoned

There are plenty of things that come to mind when I think about how the word “Abandoned” can relate to anything in my world.  Toys that were left behind when I was a kid, a story about playing with this tractor that used to rot in a field not far from the house I grew up in, even some lengthy treatise I could write about how relationships twist the soul when they end.

The worst of these is abandoning myself.  My mother was here for most of the past week helping me get resettled after too many days hooked up to machines.  While I long ago learned from the torment that was dealing with my grandparents medical situations, explicit instructions for just about every scenario written by my lawyer has made my mom feel at times helpless.  I don’t want her to have to make a decision that I know from experience takes a large part of you and it never comes back.

While she was packing her bag to head home, she said the following “You aren’t anything like you once were.  It’s hard to get used to years shifting in what feels like moments for your father and I”.

Too many factors changed too quickly in such a short period of time that I needed to leave quickly.  Give up on my home, some friends, and other things that I write about here but never speak of with others.  I knew the mental costs needed to be placed first on the list and even today, 18 months later, I don’t have a great grip on some very important factors in my life.

I non longer talk openly about the anger that can be debilitating at times.  Surrounding me are plenty of good people with honest motives, and yet I push so hard at times to get them out of my room I know they end up hurt.  Even when they acknowledge the reasons, I try my best to abandon my emotions to guard theirs.

Too often I fail.  That promise I made my daughter comes back to haunt me that I haven’t been the better person she needed.  Adults understand, children just get hurt.  It the one aspect of my life that I waver between sadness and relief that she can’t see.

When the car stopped and my mom jumped out for the terminal all I could say to her was “Thanks for coming”.

She looked confused, like I had thanked her for picking up groceries.  I know she cried later, but at that moment she knew I was back to placing another brick in the wall.  So she did me the favor of letting me.

I keep getting asked what it is like knowing you have limited time left.  Not Bucket List items, but how I handle it.  The only advice I can give is that you shouldn’t handle it the way I have.  Abandoning everything originally so that my ex didn’t have to see any of this was a smart choice, for me.  [maybe I also couldn’t be strong enough to handle knowing she had abandoned me?]  But now I find myself writing reverse eulogies for people offering thanks for what they brought to my life, even as I ignore it or deny it’s presence.

Emotions are a tough thing to quantify.  Every single one of them is valid.  Every single on of them reaches farther than the recesses of my mind.  And every single one of them has an affect on others that I can only partially see or predict.

My mother is right.  Outwardly I have become cold to some people.  Never the kids/teenagers, but it’s hard to hid some things when they are connected to my arm by a pump and tubing.

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Reach, Row, Throw, GO!!

Flow

It’s a simple word association for people who work as lifeguards. Really for anyone who tries to save someone from drowning, that particular order could save you from yourself. But does it work as well for when you are on land, trying to tread water while standing on a hard wood floor?

About a week ago someone REACHED out giving me some hope that they could help me find the answer to a question I had of myself. Nothing that matters to the rest of the world, just something that matters quite a bit to me. So when I get a chance to sit across the table and learn something I didn’t know, I needed to take every opportunity to be taught.

There was no need for me to ROW anywhere. That would have looked ridiculous along the streets of Newton, MA. Some guy with an oar? Monty Python could have made that amusing, not me. So I went the other route and called for a car to drive me over to the restaurant. At least I picked a place I knew well, my niece waits tables two nights a week during the school year to earn some spending money. (Too bad it is on slow nights to begin with, but that’s not anyone’s fault.)

A few minutes of sitting at the door turned into kind looks from the Hostess asking if I just wanted a table. I looked down at my phone and over towards her before deciding that 30 minutes was long enough to look and feel foolish. Inside I was THROWING a temper tantrum because it had me recalling all the time I sat around waiting for the ex who never showed up on time for anything. And more importantly it hurt to not be able to ask my questions.

The Universe tells us that we can’t always have the answers, that most lie within anyway. But this topic eats at me daily and even the smallest hint would be of great relief.

The smart move fortunately is what followed. A simple text asking if I had screwed up the time or place. (I was taught to always take the fault on yourself so that feelings don’t get hurt. A good business lesson!)

“Oh, you didn’t remind me. So I’m home.” Those words almost sent me back to the throwing portion of the evening. I never consider sending reminders to someone who made the initial plans.

The thing that really got to me was how it became my fault. I was there, on time, with my questions ready. Even picked someplace that was quiet and closer to her than to me. Old Lary would have gotten very angry at this point. Modern Lary isn’t a fan of this behavior either, but I just don’t have the energy to waste on people who are inconsiderate anymore. Future Lary just isn’t going to allow this to be repeated.

So I went home after telling the niece thanks and slipping some money in the jar they split each night. High school kids still need to pay for things they don’t tell us about!

GO home…

Four days later and it still eats at me.  The blame is a huge trigger point for me.  There are enough things in my world that weigh heavily on me daily, some creatures of my very own creation.  Some are just words spoken by others that have never left my ears.

That feeling of complete emptiness is one I fight too often.  It was hard enough for me before all the changes to be comfortable with myself socially.  Work was something different, I was supposed to be the smartest guy in the room.

Now I’m just the guy constantly raising his hand, sometimes waving both over my head, hoping to find a voice for my doubts.

A Quaint Curve

Mad Libs

 

 

Last week the depression won.  The battle was over before I got into the car and started driving and almost ended with me doing something that would have been an article in the paper.  Sometimes the voices are louder than reason and once in a while they just can’t be quieted.

Getting the anger out of my life has taken work.  Hard work that needs constant care, upkeep, and a very public acknowledgement that it creeps up from beneath the surface.  It’s been suggested that writing a book about my journey would be helpful to others since the topic is usually case studies or medical journals.  Why is that?

Men rarely talk about pain in real terms.

Do you know why History Books were big sellers in the late 2000’s?  They shifted form being academic works and began to tell stories.  Not cold facts, but anecdotes filled with humor to get information across.  Make something accessible and people will flock to it.

Sitting behind a catchers mask, watching a curve ball come at you for the first time is an experience.  The gentle arc it makes catches you by surprise.  Much different from the batter who sees it from a different angle.  You need to train yourself to not jump to the left or right to line up with the ball that is coming right back to where you started.  ((I could tell you about the physics of rotational effects in regards to the seams presenting an optical illusion, but that just is boring and not as romantic.)

With work things, people have always been comfortable letting me be a little abrasive about getting things handled.  Not rude or abusive, they just know I have no issue with being the hard-ass in the room.  Anger doesn’t enter the equation unless I’m dealing with Comcast, then all bets are off!

This anger is a poison.  A chronic condition that springs up at times I don’t really need it.  And when you are feeling low and alone, it is the worst time for it to show up.  A small bump turns into a pothole that swallows the car.

Getting angry about people seemingly forgetting about my kid was necessary.  What should have been done was opening my mouth to say something about it.  Instead the silence rang in my hears like leaving a concert having sat next to the speakers.  It drowned out my only hope for that day.  Just a smile while talking about it for a few minutes.

Those gentles bends in the road that led back home looked more like hard turns.  With each passing light my urge to take the wrong one kept getting stronger.  I don’t really know why I didn’t in the end.  Home was where I sat in the car, listening to the car tick down as the power was cut.  Going inside and handing off the keys and asking they not be returned was the smartest thing I did.

Letting the anger tag-team with the depression was maybe the dumbest?

 

Lean Back, I’ve Got You

Happy Endings

I needed a break from everything.  Not just writing, which has been sort of a lifeline to humanity, but the pressures of life surrounding me.  Getting so spun up because some members of my family made the holiday worse than it already was for me, it sent me back to the hospital.  The anger was so out of control I wasn’t able to rest and I couldn’t find any peace.

The funny thing is that the push over the cliff was caused by something so petty, it should have just been forgotten right afterwards.  Someone getting upset because they couldn’t understand why they didn’t get an ornament for Christmas and having the gall to complain about it at dinner?  Sorry, my father had too many other things going on and just plain forgot to order more.

It was a circus without the entertainment value!  And quite selfishly this wasn’t how I wanted to spend what most likely is my last Christmas with anyone.  I know my family well enough to not expect harmony, but this was just the beginning of too much complaining.

Maybe my perspective is colored by my own life experiences at this point.  I looked at the tree and missed my daughter.  The suncatcher I gave my parents last year shining brightly down on the tree kept her in the forefront of my thoughts.  Even though the windows were open and the weather was warm, I still had on a sweatshirt and flannel pants.  Later I sat in a chair wrapped in a blanket my mother had made for me, mid 70’s be damned!

By the time others got down from Boston to help return me to my tranquil life, I was hooked up to the wires and fluids again.  If my niece had been there she would have most likely let loose on my family in a way that would have made me proud, but also sad for putting her in that space.

Getting rid of the anger has been the most difficult part of my life.  I’m at times ashamed of it and other times I know it needs to come out or it has the potential to destroy me.  In the past I would have just picked myself up and walked away, it’s a little harder now.  When I did go lay down people kept calling my name forgetting that all-day marathons are not part of my life anymore.  20 minutes of mattress time was too much to ask.

I would do just about anything to not feel this frustration.  The inability to express it without taking a part of myself has been confounding.  History proved that I could just sit and talk out my frustration until I felt like I wasn’t being heard, then the loud voice had to come out.  But everyone feels that at times, volume being a measure of the emotional state.

A friend keeps reminding me that maybe I should spend some time writing about this anger and how I have dealt with it.  That the subject matter is rarely dealt with from my side of the equation.  My uniqueness might at some point help another in the future.  He may be right, I try sometimes to put it to paper but it also means going back into some things that I don’t know if they should ever be brought out of the closet again.  Protecting some people is still a core value, even when I have faltered I still know I have to do so.  And back comes the anger.

Hopefully I’ll be able to continue writing.  The pain of the medical stuff I can handle, I always have been able to.  But lately I just keep clinging to a promise made years ago, to be a better person for my kid.  That single thought is what has kept me from sometimes doing even what I know is the right thing.  It might end up hurting someone else.

So I guess my best option is going to “Tuesday with Morrie” route.  Keep writing and trying.  Same lesson I always told someone else, just keep trying.  I catch you when you fall.

I’d Love to Go Back

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pick-your-gadget/">Pick Your Gadget</a>

 

Recently, so very recently, I had someone tell me that my feelings weren’t valid.  That they didn’t think that what or how I felt matched their level of understanding.  It hurt to hear that.  I never thought that somewhere there was a measuring stick that someone had created to measure the loss of a child.  Why did my short time not measure up to someone who had lost their child when they were an adult?

The setting for this argument was even worse, a group whose sole purpose is to offer advice and comfort for parents.  A helping hand for people who are at some many different stages of grief that they sometimes need to be around others just to see if there might be a better method.  [there are no better methods, just times when it is better than maybe the previous day.]

I didn’t know how to respond.  The guy who used to be so very angry about this topic, the guy who would have fought with every ounce of strength to justify even the slightest downturn of a smile because of some memory, fell silent.  My ability to hopefully paint a picture that gives a moments insight into how I feel left.  And when I did speak, I am now more upset with myself than I am with any other person.

“When you don’t have enough information, you have to see it like a null set.  Trying to engineer a solution without enough factors.”

That is the biggest bunch of bullshit I could have spouted.  Trying to relate to a scientist who didn’t think the life of a small child measured up to the life of a adult child.

That hurt so deeply I can’t explain.  The knife that resides just outside of my stomach got a definite jarring straight through me.  In the matter of a few sentences someone had tried to reduce my daughter to an insignificant person.

When I got back to the car and looked over at my ride, I asked them to step out of the car for a minute.  I screamed like someone had just hit me in the knees.  Kathy was so worried that she jumped back in the car and asked if I needed to go to the hospital.  In 30 years of being friends, she has rarely seen me get this wound up.  I scared her and I didn’t mean to, I needed to let it out.

Last Christmas was the first I had been through without her, without her mother as well.  It was painful and I didn’t do well with it.  Sitting in a chair holding another child was absolutely more than I could handle, I had to leave the room afterwards and get control of my emotions.

This Christmas feels worse.

I never thought I would hear someone ever tell my grief was insignificant next to theirs.  Would you tell someone that because they were only married 5 years that if they lost their spouse it wasn’t the same as losing a spouse of 50 years.  The memories are different, but the loss is the same.

I’m so angry that I allowed myself to lower myself into his beliefs.  Explaining my daughter away just so I could try to get this man to in some way relate.  Yeah, I don’t know what it is like to lose an 18 year old.  I also don’t know what it feels like to walk on the Moon.

It took more effort than I thought to go to the store and buy a gift to place under the tree.  A silly Disney themed doll and a sweater with Winnie-the-Pooh on it.  I’m not a good wrapper of gifts, but I took all the time in the world to do my best.

I would do anything, absolutely anything to be able to see those things unwrapped.

Beast Mode

Just keep pushing that button Lady!  If you hit it for the tenth time, it might respond.  Oh, not really part of your plan, just keep pushing until you get a response?  Some ding that goes off letting you know you’re efforts weren’t in vain?  Well that describes how my Wednesday afternoon went.  Only we weren’t in an elevator or even a place where there was a real button to push.  This was about getting me to reply to a series of prompts, only I didn’t want to play the game.

The harder she pushed, the further into myself I went.  That is until she just hit upon the right button to select and I started to talk.  And the more I talked, the louder I got until the people next to me started pushing their chairs a little further away from me.  Eventually there must have been enough room for me to swing a baseball bat because the women who had been next to me saw now sitting almost directly across from me.  I didn’t see them move, I was so wrapped up in the growing anger that I didn’t see anything but the blinding emotions coming out.

I wasn’t in the mood to talk, I was there to listen and maybe pick up some advice along the way.  But that button got pushed and I couldn’t ignore the finger poking me in the arm any longer.  I turned into that rage monster I don’t like to let in the room and most times don’t want other people to even know exists.  It’s easy being a difficult person, but once you cross over into Raging Beast Mode, people will always step back.

It was a simple question, why don’t I get upset with people anymore?  The individuals in this group have seen me go from upset at the course of things to being almost passive anymore about my personal life.  Anger has been reserved for work things that haven’t gone quite right.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m anger with people.  I’m at times blinding angry and know not to pick up a phone or look at an email because no matter what the topic is, I’m going to become nasty.  Quickly at times!

I don’t need to worry about an imaginary friend, I write about how life might possibly be different at times and that’s enough pain to make most people shut their mouths and wonder if I’m truly okay.  I’m not!  Far from it.  Not a single rational person would say that I handle the topic of my daughter with anything other than unremitting guilt and anguish.  So having it brought up when I just knew I couldn’t handle it at that moment, it hit just the right button.

There are lots of unpleasant side-effects that come into play with the drugs they give me to deal with the cancer.  Sometimes they are the ones you see or read about, other times I have such lucid dreams that I sometimes need to take a step back later and figure out fantasy from reality.  But the one constant, the imaginary friend who encourages me to do the right thing would be that ghost I fear during my best days.  Once in a while I give into the need for a painkiller and then the marching of costumed children walking by enter the brain.  Is she behind mask #1 or #5?  [guess I shouldn’t make fun of my aunt for having seen Micheal Jackson and his llama when she was in the hospital!]

The interesting part for most people is that I’m not even mad with the person who intentionally set me off.  The world recognizes a fellow traveler on some broken highway, sometimes we flock together out of necessity.  Once in a while we hold hands and give support to someone other than ourselves.  Some times we need to hold onto that hand so we don’t fall down.  Other times we just sway with the breeze and hope we can take that next step forward.

After I was done screaming, I apologized and walked out of the room.  The last thing you want is someone being afraid.  Fun part was I was the one afraid.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Imaginary Friend.”

Fireflies Can’t Be Caught Twice

There are times when I absolutely want to go back and try to capture that lightening in a bottle.  Some perfect moment that made the world so much easier, so much better.  But it can’t be done.  Something always changes.  People do it just a little bit differently because they want to try for that perfection.  I made that mistake with my ex, it couldn’t be done.  That picnic where everything was wonderful, maybe the next time we tried it just felt forced.

Moments like hearing someone tell you they love you for the first time.  Or the sound of that first cry of a child being brought into the world; those are moments that just can’t be duplicated.  The second child is always special in their own way, but the anticipation is less because you know some of what is to come.  You can try everything possible to make it special, or unique, but some times “been there, done that” enters the world.

My house has kid stuff in boxes, some things on a shelf in the garage.  I’ve asked, no begged my family to see to the donation of those items but my mom keeps holding out some hope that maybe I’ll get better and maybe at some point I’ll want to have another child.  I’ve told her over and over that’s not going to happen.  I can’t make any complete assurance about the cancer leaving my body, it seems to have quite the grip this time.  I want it to go, but I’m learning that the reality of that is questionable.

The pain I feel about the kid, that hasn’t lessened in any way.  The most honest and open thing I have ever seen a politician do was two weeks ago when Joe Biden talked about how he felt he couldn’t be a leader of men [just a phrase, women too!] because there he was on national television weeping about his son’s passing.  Some men are taught that showing that vulnerability makes them weak.  Showing that makes them strong!

Just the notion of sitting in a room waiting for some OB/GYN to tell me that everything is okay, I can’t do it.  The panic is strong with this one.  It’s not that I never wanted another child, but those complete circumstances changed and I know I can’t go through that process without someone who is much stronger than I am.  I wouldn’t begin to know if that is fair to the other person.  I had so much fun thinking about my daughter from day one, everyone deserves to understand that feeling.

I understand better than I should that some people can’t have children.  Some people want them so desperately, but nature or society, dumb accidents happen to ensure that sometimes just can’t happen.  My high school reunion is this weekend and I’ll avoid it for two reasons.  The first is I don’t need the looks about my health, but more importantly I know I will never be able to get through the simplest of answers about what happened with the kid.  I can’t get through writing about it without my eyes welling up.  Like every adult, at least the normal rational ones, I would have traded my very existence to ensure hers.  [This case in Boston with little Bella makes me want to hold public stonings for people who harm children!]

You can;t re-write history without effecting the future outcome.  That’s why the winners get to write their version.  It’s the position my former mother-in-law took.  She won the fight, she got to proclaim her victory but at what cost?  In her mind you just excise the chapter, burn it and forget.  Great, wonderful way to deal with a grandchild!

There are plenty of positive memories that I have.  I cling to them life a life-preserver.  At a time when some doctor tells me that make the next seizure could wipe some of them away, I wrap my arms that much tighter and pray that if that time should come, please just take me along with them.  Losing them means losing myself and that would be the worst outcome of all.  Living but not knowing.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Night and Day.”