Thursday, April 25, 2013

Honoring The Fallen

As of late, I find myself somewhat obsessed with death. Not in some unnatural way mind you. I guess a better description is that death has taken great interest in hanging around me. So of course I have taken great interest in return. Naturally.

As usual with the specter... no spectre (I like that spelling better...). As usual when the spectre of death hangs around, it brings many things with it. Usually those things are not positive. For me it has brought on a bit of surliness, less ready smiles, I am more withdrawn, a little more extreme. Some days I just plain old require solitude.

You see death has taken a toll on me recently. As I write this, I still can't fully measure what I have lost. Mostly because I can't see things from an objective perspective. At this point I don't want to understand. I don't want things to make sense. I just want death to go away for a good long time. I know people don't come back, so I don't really want that. But I do want that spectre to realize that it is not being very fair to me. Far be it from me to wish such a thing on someone else. But when dealing with such, that is sometimes how things go. “If not you, then who?” seems to be the question. My answer is “NOT DAMN ME! Come back when you have evened things out EVERYWHERE!” I know how that looks. But then again, pain doesn't give a damn how things look.

I guess I should take a minute and give a bit of backstory. I find that context tends to help paint the picture.

Two days before Thanksgiving, the phone rings. I think nothing of it since I was the farthest from the phone at the time. Then I hear “Nooooo!”. I have only heard that once before in my life. Fear fills my insides like there was previously a vacuum there. Just as it did the first time. The questions “What?” “Who?”, “Where?”, “When?” and “How?” all explode in my mind at the same time. Then I hear “Don't tell me that!”. Now every possible alarm bell is going off. At this point I know the relationship between the caller and the callee. I also know it is VERY bad news. The list suddenly narrows itself down to a 4 year old girl and a 65 year old woman. I am desperate for information at this point and am on the verge of knocking my wife over and ripping the phone out of her hand. Instead I try to concentrate on calming myself before my heart thundered itself right out of my chest. And then “Please don't make me tell this man that!”. The odds on the 4 year old suddenly dropped to near nil. My wife finally composed herself enough to realize that I was waiting on confirmation that my mother had passed. All of those questions I had were either answered buy that or became unimportant because “Why?” was the only one I cared about at that moment. Over the next several hours I spent time with a lot of sad and shocked family members. You see, my mother had some health issues, but she wasn't ill. She was watching TV as she always did and folk were coming and going. My nephew went to the store to get them some snacks and was coming back to massage her legs as she asked. My sister returned home less than 10 minutes after he left and she was gone. And my life changed. Those next few hours was the first time I have ever felt alone in the company of people. She was laid to rest with a wonderful memorial service. Her ashes will be spread at her favorite park either on her next birthday or around the 4th of July during our annual family picnic.

Fast forward to the end of January. I am at work during a lull in the action. I log onto Facebook to see what is happening. I get an instant message from a great aunt that I barely see online. She tells me to call her. The fact that she contacted me that way told me it was something of great import, so I called her immediately. She infomed me that my Uncle Frankie had passed the night before. A sad event to be sure but not unexpected. He was 81 and had some heart problems for a while. Of course it was too soon for me. I mustered up the strength to make one more call and grabbed my cell phone. I went to a little used spot in the building where cell reception was better and privacy was higher. I called my wife to give her the bad news with a ton of tears in my eyes. He was one of her favorites in my family. She didn't take it well either.

Fast forward to the end of March. I am working from home early one Monday. I get a call from my cousin, who was like my brother while growing up. I hadn't heard from him in a while because as many of you know, I am part hermit. And other such grown folk stuff too. So we chit chat for a minute or three. Then he says to me, “I was calling to ask if you could be a pall bearer”. My immediate reply was “Who, what, when, what?!?!?”. His reply was “Oh, you didn't know! Dad passed on Saturday.” I didn't know because I was still a little down and had not been to the family page on Facebook or the family website on My sister also neglected to pass the word on. I told him that “I could do no less for him and that it would be my great honor to do so.” This really messed up my day and no work would get done. You see this man was like my other father. I was the salt in his salt and pepper twins. He was also one of my mother's favorite cousins. Needless to say, I was pretty messed up. My wife was rather fond of him and his wife. Again, not news she took well. The depression I had been running from for the last few months found me, and it held on tight.

Rewind to mid March. I read a FB post about a cousin from my father's side. He was in hospice for cancer. I called his brother to find out what was going on. We talked for a few minutes. I got caught up on cuz' situation. By this time I was running that losing race with depression. I wasn't able to bring myself to call Auntie though. Fast forward to Mid April. I run across another FB post about the cousin I talked to on the phone. It seems he had a stroke and was in the hospital with little to no memory of anyone. AND another cousin was in ICU because an asthma attack nearly took him out. A couple of days later the stroke patient has recovered some memory and function. The asthma patient improves enough to leave ICU. A few days after that my sister remembers to call. The cousin in hospice passed early that morning, his brother was still in the hospital recovering from the stroke AND their mother was admitted to the hospital due to stress and other complications.

Today is the day before my cousin's home going service. For me, this will be the fourth time in five months. Let me restate that. Four funerals in five months with two near misses. Obviously I am not doing that cool. To the point that I let slip my own self discipline and desire to be better. Some days I win, some days I lose. But I shall still strive until I no longer have the ability. I will get back on my meds and stay on schedule. I will get back on my bike and ride like I am young again. I will try that damned Insanity workout again! I gotta say though, that shit was hard!!! I must be a glutton for punishment because I liked it. My old, fat body didn't necessarily agree with the abuse and I had to wave off before I snapped something. But I will be back. And I will give myself a better diet and a better attitude.

I promised myself I would not write depressing stuff here again. But I needed to let this out. And I had to something to honor Loraine, Charlie, Donald and Layman. I don't think I can get better without having done so.

I ain't promising that I am back. But I am removing that dumb promise to myself. When I fell of writing here, I fell off having that therapy. I thought it was because things felt better. But I do this to make things better. Every time...