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.

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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…

A New Gathering Place

Purpose

This was the perfect time to ask for some assistance.  If I was going to actively chose falling down the cavern, having a person to hold the rope was smart.  Allowing depression to take hold for a short period of time means trusting someone to shine a light I could follow back.  Finding a person who is strong enough to be there and not take it personally or become trapped beneath the surface was easier than I thought.

My surprise came from having someone volunteer and push their way to the front of the line to help.  Not a series of words but actions that allowed me to do what was necessary and come back.

That gave her a purpose.  A long overdue acknowledgement that I valued what was being offered to me and that I was finally ready to accept a small portion of assistance.

Long ago I became accustomed to having to beg for someone to be there.  It became so desperate a plea after my daughter left that it was impossible to get anything done.  At a time when if things had been different maybe my future would also be.  Those months of not sleeping, barely eating, and carrying around a level of anger and grief that served no purpose other than to turn rainbows grey; they left me weak.  Prime for illness to take hold and keep it.

Saturday I had to go deep.  Talking about death is one thing, talking about how you expect people to handle your own combines a strength to get through the words and complete weakness as a result.

Most days I don’t allow the pain to show openly.  There are signs, but that just letting go long enough to get it out and move forward, not a chance.  I’m still haunted by showing previous weakness and have it exploited.

There were just two of us in the room.  It was a movement in our friendship that needed to occur.  I know that there was no amount of things I could buy, or meals I could cook that would be as meaningful as simply letting someone see me break down.  Accepting her hand to get off the floor hopefully was growth.

When someone at work feels like they aren’t fitting in, you find them a purpose.  Let them do something that brings out their confidence in themselves.  Let them know they matter as more than a nameless, faceless cog in the wheel.

It’s taken a long time for me to be able to open myself up to show that I understood that when I fell, those moments of weakness I try to hide, I was comfortable taking hold of a hand that has allows offered to be there.

Let’s put it in the simplest form –

I took a few bricks that have been built into a huge wall and moved them off to the side a started a foundation for a different structure.  Not a wall this time, but how about a nice patio where a few chairs can gather?