Excited Utterances

Surface

Through the look in her eye you could see a lifetime that had passed.  If you went a little deeper you could find the dreams of the future.  But today was about the present.  Just two people sitting across from each other talking but also listening in a different way to the words.  It was time and this morning last nights words still sit echoing in my ears.

Hope is an awful thing to lose.  You never want to take that away from any person, for any reason.  Small wishes in large ways make us want to see the next sunrise.

For the past year I have done one simple thing, made sure the people around me know I appreciate their efforts.  Not just my family, although some are doing it for their own selfish reasons, but even the person who walks me to the next test at the hospital.  It’s a simple kindness that I feel they should hear.

Last night I found myself not being able to utter a single word.  I didn’t know how to say what I felt without taking away from how she felt.  The problem was she also knew.

A long time ago I once spat out in a hospital room how I felt about someone.  A long winded profession of a short phrase.  Nerves, maybe a little bit of someone else being slightly groggy from medicine, a stupid excited utterance.

This story she also knew.

So I sat and listened and tried to keep everything just beneath the surface.  My eyes however were just as telling as hers.  She needed to say something, needed to be heard differently than some text message or while in a room full of people.

It’s very difficult to have people around you when dealing with cancer.  At least for me I still carry a very deep wound from the last set of people who just left without a word.  That not anyone else’s fault but theirs.  And it certainly isn’t something to be held against someone who sends a text message almost every night just to make sure I know if I want to talk they’re still awake.

Everyone comes with some drama.  People who say they want a drama-less life usually had some closet door being propped closed to contain their scars.

For some reason drama doesn’t bother her.  She’s not seeking it out unless in book or movie form, but her life has also been hard in its own way.

So this morning I sit wondering if I said the right things.  Looked the right way at her.

I couldn’t say back the same things she had said, not for lack of feelings but I’m just trying so hard to close a life without it hurting more people than it will.

When you take away hope, you take away life in every form.  That’s worse than anything.  I had it done to me, I won’t allow it to happen to another.

And I know she knows that.

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Strong Words, Stronger Feelings

Crisis

We’re going down the personal lane this morning, so if you’re not in the mood, skip ahead to someone else.  But I need this to be out there…

I’d been looking forward to watching this silly cartoon.  The latest Batman thing hit the stores and I was school boy curious about it.  Too tired, just hit pause and watch it later.  Usually these are the things I just watch on my own because rarely do others share my giddy feelings.  Last night was different.

Without getting into a movie that I ultimately didn’t like, it just destroyed a strong character for no reason other than to add length to the presentation.  Having a friend openly join me knowing the evenings plan, and to do it willing and without hesitation, normally I would question their sanity.

No cell phone watching, her attention was on the screen for most of the time and making sure I was okay the rest.  Long ago we had that talk about what we both needed from each other.  Strong shoulders from each, for each, and the rest of the world would just work its way out.

So rather than go home and just enjoy the silence of her own place, her teenage daughter at camp for the week, she was sitting on the couch?  We split some salads and I stared at the cookie but passed.  The only disagreement was her pulling on the blanket that spanned the both of us, but mostly it was a joke.

I couldn’t help but ask as we each picked up our leftovers to head our separate ways, “Could I ask why you would put yourself through that cartoon?  Not your normal viewing.”

What I expected to hear was not what I got.  I handed her the bag with tomorrow’s lunch and walked toward the door.  It was early, most nights I can’t stay up late, other times the medication just wears me out in a different way.  So 8 p.m. and I’m getting my evening ritual started.

“It’s more than being worried about you.  Some days when you are asleep and I’m awake I wonder if I’ve done enough to help.  I want to do more.  But love makes people do things for others at strange times.”  And out the door she walked.

I watched her go and never said anything in response.  She knows all of the damage, the stuff you see and the stuff she has had to hear.  That has worked both ways, I know her secrets as well.

There was never a chance to respond, she knew better than to wait.  It would have taken me forever to say the wrong thing anyway!

My assumption has always been that someone was going to get hurt.  I also knew it was going to be her, because I was the one leaving at some point.  We decided during some silent conversation we would live with that, while trying to live with the daily issues.

Her husband was a piece of work [really a piece of shit].  I don’t want her or her daughter to feel an ounce of pain because of me.  They seem to think I’m worth it, I’m not so sure.

Anyway, knowing her daughter also will at some point see this and write me a oddly worded email talking about how she doesn’t see the difference between me and the boys at school [a reference to maturity, I’m sure], let me say this as simply as possible.

The people I have surrounded myself with I love deeply.  Without reservation and without an ounce of regret.  Those not around that is for a reason.  I don’t have the time to spend with people who aren’t going to be there when  I need them.  Lived that life, it hurt.  Those scars are on the outside as well as the inside.

I could have Han Solo’d it and replied “I know!” or “Ditto”, but hopefully those words echoing into the humid air as the door closed didn’t need a reply.  I appreciate every moment, I’m lucky to have people who care.

Useful Tool, That’s Me!

Sanctuary

The guy I roomed with for about ten seconds after joining my fraternity came with the pledge name “Tool”.  He thought it was because of his prowess with the ladies, the rest of us knew it was because he sounded like an idiot trying to regale the crowd with his tales of conquest.  Eventually he learned, not just of his nom de plume but how to act around other people.

My niece has a guy in her life.  And he is doing his best to put everyone in the family at ease while still being a 16 year old boy.  He brings flowers for her grandmother, tries to remember to “Yes Sir, No Sir” when talking to her father, and he is absolutely not sure how to deal with me.  But over the weekend he made a valiant effort towards gaining my trust.

He has a car so in need to daily repair that he actually spends time each day tightening some bolt or hoping that all the pieces come home from his lawn cutting hours.  Purchased with money from his own grandparents when he was 14, his father has helped him rebuild as much as possible.  But then I was asked for some advice…

Number One Rule: don’t get between a father and son when they are trying to form a bond.

In this case it was with permission.  It was about some electronic portion of the stereo that his father just couldn’t decide on so he opened it up to the floor.  Since the young man is over on the weekends for Sunday brunch, he asked me to sit and talk.

I know nothing about restoring cars.  Minor things I can fix, major things have me making calls to the mechanic for an appointment.  But adding some speakers and a radio, I can handle this.

It wasn’t even a talk about the price or even what he wanted it to look like.  We talked about the music.  Knowing the engine is always going to be heard, that squeaks and rattles are the symphony of the metal and rubber, it never was going to be a concert hall of silence when the doors shut.

My dad taught me about acoustic models when I was a kid.  Different power ratings, ohms, peak watts versus balanced output.  An engineer’s dream set of questions asked by his son who wanted to listen.  We were building a sound for my keyboards, but we also built a better understanding of each other.

He was the tool I needed than, I’m the tool someone needed now.

Of all the things I miss about my daughter, not having the ability to see her face when she learns something new truly upsets me.  That set of eyes growing wide [that scene in Zootopia with the Sloth is a perfect example.  That’s why everyone loves it, they know that feeling and want it every day!], her excitement with her accomplishment.  My smile knowing her exact feeling.  It’s also why I feel a simple level of guilt about having been the one to teach my nephew to ride a bike.  On a basic point I took something away, even though my brother didn’t care.  This also was the same time my daughter had passed away so I might have also been given a pass from him?

Last night, before crawling into bed I ordered something on Amazon.  Nothing big or expensive, but a puzzle piece that will get them started.  My niece will be the one who actually gives it to him, another one of our little secrets that harm no one.

Having retired last month since I felt my work wasn’t up to snuff, having someone ask me for advice made me feel useful.  Just a simple reminder that even when I don’t see it or even feel it, others do.

 

Funny Little Icon

I must have forgotten that it was even still on my phone.  A silly addition my mother had suggested and since it didn’t take any space and definitely wasn’t worth arguing about, I installed it.  Some chat program that would allow me to remain relatively anonymous and yet be able to reach out when the need arose.  Leave out the things and only talk about the present.  Here and now was all that mattered and if something slipped out, well I could take it from there.

Assuming anyone was on the other end of the line…

While retreating from the world, I had closed it down.  The program and me.  So it really was a surprise when this afternoon it dinged and let me know there was a message.  It had my username, so it wasn’t a fat-finger typed letter that accidentally ended up in my hands.

I can’t recall when it last notified me that someone was trying to reach me.  The profile I set up wasn’t great.  Truly, I didn’t want to follow through and hoped that if you leave enough “code words” for damaged or I’m here because someone forced me, the icon on my screen would never light up.

One time, in some fit of either loneliness or just longing I had talked to a few people.  It didn’t last long, silence on my end can push away anyone who even needed the same thing I was supposed to open myself up for.  Just another voice to sometimes drown out the other voices that made me feel lonely in the first place.

When I lived away from all my family, it had been a choice.  I needed time.  I certainly needed to find me again.  My parents told me later they hated the idea of the limits I placed, but they knew I had to do it.  Forcing me to act differently wouldn’t have solved anything.

But now this icon still flashes on my phone.  This person was brave enough to place a photo for their avatar.  Mine is just a sports icon.  There’s a way to look up other information without someone knowing.  But that feels like an invasion to me.  Hiding behind a screen is one thing, tricking someone is something completely different.

Why can’t I just read their message?  My profile is very clear about having a terminal illness and that I wasn’t going to make the best choice for someone looking for anything long-term.  No dating here, but it didn’t stop me from talking up my dog or like of baseball.  [There are details I left out because I didn’t need someone actually finding out who I was in the real world unless I chose that!]

Curiosity has the better of me.  I could ignore it.  But some part of me sees it like a tap on the shoulder asking a question.  I’m not the type of person to turn away.  I’m the guy who has no issue holding the door while the entire crowd ushers themselves in while nodding or thanking me.  [my parents did a good job with the manners aspect.]

Maybe just a quick look?  Could be just a simple hello?  A person in the same overall situation needing their voice heard?  Lots of good reasons I can think of for this flashing icon.

The only bad one is if I can be what they need or if I’ve tricked myself into thinking there’s nothing for me to offer anymore…

Can’t Reach That Shelf

Forbidden

After looking at how all of the words were either misspelled or just didn’t make sense, I’m embarrassed to write many days.  I just don’t know how many more of these I have within me.  Seeing the decline hurts.  Knowing that words that used to fly out are now sitting on a shelf in a jar marked “Do Not Touch”.  There’s something I want to get out and hopefully it means something to someone.  Really anyone?

Like the Queen song “And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few”.  For a long time I have kept a tight grip on my guilt.  It’s like a second skin I wear underneath my clothes.  Forgiveness isn’t going to come.  Not from the only person it truly matters, myself.  As this stupid cancer is making things harder, I can’t keep from clinging to the idea it has always been my fault and my punishment.

If it were any other person, I would tell them they needed to stop.  Stop thinking that way, make sure to get help and find a way to live with their life.

It’s absolutely impossible for me to hear my own words.  They get drowned out by the other voices.

Guilt is a horrible thing.  It is good to feel, but not to make it who you are and what you show the world.

Having someone leave me a note that said “I am always sorry I can’t give you more, that I cannot do more” brings me to tears.  They’ve given me so much and for them to think they aren’t enough, it’s just wrong.  It has always been about my inability to fix myself, not the daily kindness they show me.

At some point I’ll no longer be able to fix a cup of tea let alone fix the world’s problems.

I wish I had never let someone get inside my head.  Now when I want to reach out to people I can’t.  But I still long for that feeling when someone just grips my hand and gives it a squeeze.

What’s is my point?  Learn to forgive yourself for whatever you may carry on your shoulders.  The people who love you, care about you, they’ll help if you let them.

Silence…

Help

This is a tough topic for me to write about.  Asking for help has a different meaning to every person.  Knowing when something is out of control and needs correction means being able to identify the problem in the first.

There are lots of things I can point out about the positive and negative effects of requesting help.  But they only matter if you follow one simple suggestion –

Asking for help doesn’t make you weak or wrong.  It doesn’t mean you are a bad person or that you should feel shame in any way.  Not asking for help causes you bigger problems than not.

I speak from experience.  I asked someone for help and they proceeded to make fun of me for having done so.  The amount of shame I felt as a result colored everything that ever followed.

They were wrong.

These days I ask for simple things.  A ride to the doctors or a stupid errand to be handled.  But I no longer sit down and tell anyone what is happening in my head.  That simple, cruel act from my past has ensured that all the therapy in the world won’t correct my misplaced feelings of inadequacy.

It’s hard to ask anyone for anything.

That time, right after my daughter’s death, I only cared about getting help for the ex.  I turned away every single question because I thought it would take away from others being able to help her.  Not altruism on my part, just needed to make sure she was okay before I could allow myself to handle things.

Things for me got worse.  I closed myself off to everything, anyone who might have been able to talk.  By the time I was asking for help, it was being denied to me.

There’s help out there.  I’m just too scared to let those close to me know I still need it.  Or that I really needed it to begin with.

Maybe a New Serial?

Ripped Into the Headline

Dimwitted Man Goes on Date, Doesn’t Know It!!!

A 43 year old man was recently spotted out at a local restaurant with an surprisingly age appropriate woman.  What people at surrounding tables are most talking about would be that he seemingly had no clue.  One customer stated that he overheard the conversation between the odd man and his companion and was shocked to hear someone tun down the offer of having their meal paid for by someone else as a gesture of kindness.  Another customer thought it was just a family outing since they were accompanied by teenagers who chose to sit at another table.

Our Editor contacted the manager who gave the name on the charge slip.  After some research, this reporter was able to track down the male and sit down to ask some questions.

Lary stated that he thought it was just the parent of another kid being nice.  That they offered to let him tag along since the evening’s plans were boring.  Dr. Lary had intended to just continue reading some material and hopefully get some rest before the house became clouded with noise later.

Further research noted that Lary has been dealing with a chronic form of Leukemia that has progressed to a stage were the doctor’s prognosis has been less than favorable.  This in some small way might account for his complete and total ignorance of this past Saturday’s activities.  It seems he believed that since hope was lost he has lost his way in some respects.

Reached by phone, the female in question (who asked her name be withheld since she didn’t want publicity) was shocked at the general outcome.

“How often do you go out to dinner where someone wishes to pay for everyone else and not accept even a portion of the check?  And don’t get me started about how he cringed when I went to give him a hug!  He’s a nice guy and all, I just wish acted differently.”

All further questions were stopped and a gentle reference to asking the kids was offered.

“My Uncle doesn’t understand people very well.  People do nice things, he just doesn’t see them the same way.  Life has been difficult for him and he shuts out people so he doesn’t get hurt.  I think he’s just like the boys in my classes, stupid and goofy at times!”

When asked if she would go out with him again, the female stated that she would have to think  about it.  While the conversation was pleasant and even at times fun, that hug stood out in her mind.

“I think Lary needs to learn that if you lock yourself in a room, you eventually only see the darkness in every corner and not the light shining through the windows.  The way he is with my daughter, getting her to even talk to her own father; I just wanted to repay that.  Divorce is hard, people say the wrong things, he got her to understand that.  His niece talks all the time about how she wants him to get out, meet people.  Give the world a chance.  Maybe I’m trying to be a tour guide.”

So to anyone who witnessed the interaction Saturday night at Paddy’s Pub in Newton, MA we’d love to hear from who.  Does this end up with a second meal?  Hopefully the readers will keep us informed.