Path of No Resistance

Fierce

I wish I had the strength to open her letter.  It’s not a physical thing, but my emotions get so far out of check about certain people and events that I have done my best to hide from them.  And now I carry this note with me wherever I go.  The joys of email that is synced to my phone and tablet.  There is only so fast you can run from something that is sitting within your grasp.

It’s been two years since I’ve spoken with her.  And that conversation didn’t go well.  It was after my daughter had died and neither of us knew what to do for each other.  So silence became the path of no resistance.  Never far from my thoughts, but distance was what we both needed.  We shared some of the same reasons and on some level knew there was pain that couldn’t be avoided for either of us.

Friends are funny things.  They can be thousands of miles away and yet right next to you all at the same time.  I ran so quickly to Boston that I didn’t leave a forwarding address.  And I didn’t try to involve others in what has become a futile attempt at life.

When  you wind down a business most people try to do it quickly and with little fanfare.  I’ve been applying that same theory to my own life.  Just a notice my parents will eventually send out letting people know the cancer did it’s job.

Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, it hardens it.

Even while I’m typing this all I need to do is switch over the window and there it will be, sitting in the folder with her name and a number behind it.  Some days it would blink throughout the day with updates and replies, other days silent but always a welcome diversion to whatever was happening.

Last week when it light up all I felt was panic.  Pain and anxiety, worry that something had happened to her family or someone else where she felt the need to inform me.  It took most of the day to fight off those feelings.  To hold back every desire to just click here.

If this had been a piece of paper, I could have put it in a drawer.  Waited for a time when I could emotionally handle the words.

I love the feeling of having just finished a run and the sweat is dripping so rapidly my socks are starting to cling to my feet.  Water stinging my eyes and my knees are burning from the miles of pavement left behind.  This I can’t move fast enough from.

Hopefully soon I’ll be ready to read even the couple of sentences this might contain.  I don’t know, maybe during a therapy session in case I just let my feelings for the past overcome the wall I have built in my present.

I do miss my friend.  Staying silent was the last act I could think of to let any of them live without fear.  Only now I fear a silly letter.

Autographed Kindle

Vice

Every Saturday morning she jumps out of bed.  Before leaving the room, she pulls the sheets tight and makes sure that everything is in its place.  Each item carefully lined up on the shelf and nothing laying on the floor for someone to get their feet tangled up in.  It’s Allowance Day!  The list needs to be complete before she could even ask for that money.

The dishes are put away.  Her clothes have been taken from their basket and placed in various drawers.  And the most important thing to her father, the flowers in the kitchen had their water.  A simple list to help instill not only responsibility but a sense of accomplishment.

All week she knew what that money was going to buy.  The trick was making sure there was a little bit left over so some candy could be picked up after school.  Knowing that reaching into her pocket showed everyone she was an adult on the rise.

Each Saturday the store owner kept this week’s addition to the collection behind the counter.  Sometimes his wife handled over the package, other times it was some kid trying to earn their own money for whatever they might be dreaming about.

She’d show her bag to everyone in the house before placing it on the shelf.  Once in a while she had completed the previous week’s book.  That was what was important to my aunt, making sure she her finished last week before beginning the next weeks book.

Everything that some company thought were the classics.  At least what had been written by 1935.  So you had The Hunchback of Notre Dame next to Plato and The Collected Poems of Edgar Allen Poe.  The gold lettering covering the various shade of brown and maroon of the faux leather with titles that could take her anywhere.

My aunt collected those books for years.  Adding whenever possible, a shelf becoming a bookcase.  All of them carefully kept neat so that they could be re-read anytime.

I don’t know why she stopped buying them.  Maybe they didn’t make them anymore.  Possibly with the advent of WWII someone hit a pause button on their production.  It didn’t stop my aunt from buying piles of books throughout her life, but they were different from these.

When I was a child I was given this collection.  I’ve read them all.  Some where the copies I used for book reports in school and others just something that sounded fun.

My own collection of books has been a vice worth falling prey to.  Very few get bought in hardcover form, it’s just so much easier to hit the “Add to Cart” button.  Turn on my Kindle and there it is.

Ever been to a book signing where the only copy you own is in electronic format?  I’m a smartass who actually had an author sign the back of my device!

At some point I hope my nephew wants those books.  It needs to be something he falls in love with not something that is just handed over.  Maybe that same sense of wonder will come to him like ti did for me when reading Jules Verne.

The other reason I want him to love these books?  It will bring him closer to his own family’s history.  The way they came to him and hopefully people will tell him stories about his great-great-aunt.  Living history from words written long ago.

The Light and Shade of Things

Fifty

The levels haven’t gotten better.  Some days are filled with such pain I can’t explain it other than to say “you have to have been there”?  But in the past I would have done anything possible to make sure no one ever knew how this feels.  The physical stuff I learned to deal with years ago.  Sports taught me how to cover up minor stuff, being an asshole taught me how to cover up the rest.

Some days I pray that the cancer will just win and a nap turns into something permanent.  Guilt gets a large opening on those days.  The lose of control over my life isn’t who I am.  Long ago I accepted the narcissistic qualities of who I am.

Now I need lots of help to get through the days.  Some of it for little things you don’t even consider.  Every now and then not being able to get a glass of water?  The hallway is just too long.  I’m not used to having to sit on the floor to just let my body catch up with my drive.

Watching the sun rise through the window is still a wonder.  And some days I consider it to be a gift.  Even if the sky if covered in grey and the guy next door is entering week two of concrete removal from his driveway, I try to hope.  One more chance to get things right.

And then it creeps back…

The darkness that makes me think of those old cartoons where the character has a cloud dripping on their head.  Even when the umbrella is open, the water still soaks them through.  The waters on the inside?  Guess that is some reference to inner turmoil?

Hope left the building some time ago.  Parts of my life that were funny, aren’t.  The doctors have told me that with so many things that occurred in my personal life in such a short period of time, my brain just isn’t wired the same anymore.  It goes far beyond a defense mechanism, my emotions have just stopped.

Could be protecting others?  Might be protecting myself?  When you close the circle around yourself it hopefully falls into a little of both.  Mostly I think it is protecting others because I still have such emotional response to certain people.  I keep grasping for the light and only come up with

I feel like I let them down.  Even with the cancer?  But you can’t control that one!  Stop acting like an idiot!

See the battle isn’t as easy as some people think.  You can’t just will your way out of a mental state.  You can delay it.  Push it off.  But it always comes back.  This change in myself isn’t one I like.

The darkness will win someday.  The sun won’t come up and that damn jackhammer will be silent to me.  I’m only wondering if the pain goes away as well?

 

 

Ghost in the Machine

Ghost

28 years ago her aunt sat in a very different Volvo and had to learn to drive a manual transmission in a matter of minutes.  Patre might have been 16, but I was only 15 and my parents were willing to loan the car if she could drive it.  Nothing motivates teenagers who long for some alone time someplace away from their parents like the freedom of a car!

Yesterday Susie was driving an updated version of that Volvo down a country road while we hunted for ice cream.  This time she is 15 and well I’m a much older 44!  She knows the car will be hers one day.  The summer job has been helping her save money for the day she turns 16 and has to pay for fuel and a bit of her insurance.  I’m not going to need to car, and since I’m anal retentive about maintaining this thing; she’ll not have to worry about those issue.  The dealer knows to eventually send the maintenance bill to the lawyer [yeah, that whole estate planning thing.  She couldn’t afford to pay if something big happened, teenagers!]

There no manual to worry about.  The car has every safety option they sell.  And like most people in Massachusetts, a grey Volvo won’t surprise anyone.  So I get to be a hero for one last time.

Amusingly I let her friends come along.  A few are 16 already and have their licenses, this one barely has her learner’s permit.  I even put one of those giant red “L”s on the back window for people to know they should be cautious.

The fun thing about a bunch of teenage girls in a car is the music choices.  I hate Justin Bieber!  Most modern pop music all sounds the same to me.  Oh, I did mention I dislike Justin Bieber, right?  As long Susie can hear me yell stop, we’re good.  [bonus, those seizures that still pop up from time to time?  The ones that make hearing things difficult? Right now I’m slightly thankful for them.]

Susie knows all of the stories about her aunt.  At least the ones she should know, I get a few to keep private.  So she also knows I’m the one who taught her to drive a manual transmission.  What she doesn’t know is that we drive some of the same streets today that we did 3 decades ago.

There are some ghosts that float around me and they scare me.  Memories of people and events that haunt my waking hours as well as those when my eyes are gently shut for the night.  This isn’t one of those times.

That night, my parents would have easily driven is to the movies or any other place we wanted to go.  They also could have given us the keys to the car with an automatic transmission, but my dad was not parting with his 2 door convertible for crazy teenagers!

Just like that day, I held Susie’s hand and told her that as long as she was sure of her actions everything would be great.  Back then I might have made a few dirty jokes, today it is about building a confident young lady.

As I looked over that ghost of her aunt was looking back with the same smile.  The same eyes but slightly darker hair.  I couldn’t have been more grateful for the time her parents have allowed me to have.  [I also taught her father to drive stick, just on a different Volvo!]

I know I don’t talk about the parts of life I’m grateful for having.  It’s a shame that I don’t look at the world quite the same anymore.  I see the rainbows and all the colors, they just don’t bring out those same emotions.

Yeah, I bought ice cream and sodas, a couple of sandwiches for later.  We ate the ice cream there and I have no idea what they did with the rest.

The sound of their laughter was everything.  It kept the bad away and brought back all that was good.

 

Carrying That Knowledge of…

Carry

 

 

In making this decision to end the slow march of cancer, I’ve had to separate so many factors that it required talking with various people.  Carrying the kind of guilt I have for so long has to be a factor removed from the discussion at all costs.  While this is going to be a selfish act, I am trying to make it a selfless act as well.

I’m not sure how to make that part work.  The lawyer has said a few things, but he has also admitted that having known each other since we were teenagers colors his opinions on this topic.  The therapist has had her chance to chime in as well.  That has been about the absolute weight of my emotions that curl my shoulders and strain my legs most days.

It’s easy to plan for what becomes of your things.  Who gets what and who gets told they get nothing.  [sorry I have an aunt who would clean my house out before the body was cold.]  But the emotions that go into that are tough.  Some items mean a great deal to me and finding them a new home with someone who might also grow to understand that can be draining.

Strangely I have a teddy bear that will go up in smoke with the rest of me because that has been the pattern for the others who have the matching 5 other bears.  Odd since they are all handmade and I still know where each of the others are.

There’s a drawer full of letters.  All sealed and signed across the back so no person opens another’s without their consent.  It has taken time to write them.  Not a single one out of spite or anger.  I’ve done my best to only talk about funny or meaningful stories.  No reason to add weight to their journey.

I have even written a draft on this blog that eventually will get posted.  I won’t be the person pushing any buttons that day, but I’m a planner and a few people here need to hear how much I have enjoyed their writing.

My nightmares come from dealing with a few of the ladies in my life.  My mother, other mother Kathy, my niece and the two she has brought into my life to help get me through the days.  I saw what happened to the first three when we had to say goodbye to my daughter.  Family grieves differently than those reading my words.  I’ve spent a lifetime protecting them and I would give everything to protect them from what comes next.

It’s not like my father or brother aren’t going to be bothered, that’s not my point.  But they handle things so quietly I couldn’t tell you what they are going to do.

Like a few posts, I’m not sure of what the point has been.  My emotions are at times very difficult to get a handle on.  I’m confused about how to handle a few people and experiences.  That female who keeps knocking on the door asking what she can do has asked to be there.  For all of it, damn the laws.  But really who goes after someone who sat in a chair while another person drank a very medicated milkshake?

Maybe tomorrow we can talk about the road trip to get ice cream?  That sounds like more fun.  Especially since we ‘re letting a 15 year old drive part of the backroads!

Road Trip

Confused

For some reason it all fell into place.  Maybe finally having a plan and acknowledging that I had a plan helped?  Why Saturday the weather chose to take a break from the unrelenting heat and humidity is beyond me.  Upper 90’s dropping to barely 70’s meant we could cross something off the list for several of us.

We threw some clothes in a bag and drove to Maine.  It’s not that far, maybe 3 hours to get to our destination.  Everyone in the car is very Catholic, so I had to stifle a laugh once or twice when they thought a Divine Hand had some part.  I love and respect these people, so I’m not about to argue!

We made a pit stop to visit my daughter.  I still believe that she is always with me and this marker is just a way for others to know about her.  Guess my faith is just different for the others in my crew?  Finding purple-ish roses in the middle of nowhere Maine is surprisingly easier than you would think.  Having said what I needed to we headed of for the water.  The walk was a little further than I recall, but I wasn’t needing something to steady myself beyond a helpful hand the last time either.

My comments above about religion make the next part that much more confusing for me.  That sense of calm that came over me was something I haven’t experienced in many years.  There is a picture next to “Type A personality” that is unmistakably me.  Having lost some of that trying to be something I wasn’t used to anger me.  My ex needed me to be a kinder version, but everyone else needed me to be the rougher person.  I needed to be that rougher person in order to do my job.  Part of what created that downfall was my not being me anymore.  Odd since the guy she met was the kind you wanted making nasty decisions because I didn’t feel bad about them.  [it necessary when you own a business to at times not be nice.  That doesn’t mean disrespectful of others, just tough!]

Think Jerry Stiller yelling “Serenity Now!” while inwardly feeling a great sense of peace!

Moving on…

At dinner I told everyone what I was thinking.  How for a flash I was calm.  Not worried about the past or the future.  Trapped in moment that didn’t make an ounce of sense to me.

All along I have known that these folks were going to push me to do what was necessary to bring me back.  It’s been years of knowing that I felt guilt about some of my choices and that there were times when the running was my way of trying to inflict pain on myself I didn’t feel otherwise.

You can’t outrun ghosts!  They always win, every time.

Friends of friends own a cabin that is rustic in every way.  One room with beds in the opposing corners.  As the lights went out, we had that Walton’s moment with everyone saying goodnight.  [then the snoring began!]

There are plenty of things I wish I knew how to explain.  Right now I’m starting a different journey from everyone else.  At times there are going to be some companions and at times I need to be completely alone.  Figuring out which is which is the hard part.

I’ve planned a few surprises for the next couple of weeks.  We’ll see how they work and whether they get shared as well.

Aside from that one last thing I know I’m going to do, there is something I know I need to do.  And it is as much for myself as it is for another.

I hope to not screw that up!

 

My Guide to Ending It…

Obsessed

If you have read my stuff over the past 20 months, you know I’m sick.  Let’s push aside the depression issue that came with a few episodes and stick with the cancer diagnosis.  It’s killing me slowly and I have a new plan.

I’m going to help it along in a more definite way.

There have been talks with doctors.  Talks with lawyers.  And recently had a more exacting series of discussions with a few people so that we understand what I need to do and what I need from them.

In Massachusetts they don’t look kindly on people ending their lives.  It’s a criminal act and in some ways a financial lose if your insurance company wants to be difficult.

I’ve made sure to map out those details so there is no issue.  And cashing in my policy was easier than I thought.  A phone call, sign a piece of paper and the money was in my account a few days later.

There’s a stack of pills that could make even the best college rave a tame event.  Whenever they shifted some medicine, I just kept the leftovers.  And for anyone who has dealt with cancer or really any long term illness, they know the piles of colorful little capsules and tablets.  [the economist in me only sees the colossal waste in all of this!]

That conversation I tried to talk a out yesterday, all about how someone basically insisted on being there to hold my hand.  The argument that went with exposing someone to the potential pain.  I was loudly reminded that whether she was in the room or not it was going to hurt.  And the less said about the other people who have offered to stand in a room the better!

In plenty of things, control is a illusion.  We try to plan but something always gets lost along the way.

Not this time.  In my mind those things don’t matter anymore.  Which is where my mistake resides, I get that.

So I picked a date.  Circled in my mind.  There are no triggers for anyone.  For a brief moment I came up with a different date, but realized I chose for the wrong reason.  Revenge.  [yeah, still have some anger issues that fortunately remain mostly under control!]

There are a few things I want to do over the time I have left.  Simple things like visit my daughter’s resting place one more time.  [at least before I take up residence?]  Go to the aquarium and watch some penguins?  And definitely go sit at that baseball field I played so many hours on and remember when the only concern was keeping my eye focused on the ball.

So I have a plan.