A Rock Feels No Pain

In despero , obscurum ; In Diligo , Lux lucis. (In despair, darkness; In Love, Light). -Me

Anniversary that sucks

Some anniversaries suck. There’s no other way I can put it. Unlike the anniversary of a birth, which (at least if you still have a bunch of kids around), is a cause for a party and a celebration, and presents and cake and singing off-key, or the anniversary of a marriage, which (hopefully) is also a cause for celebration and if not cake, perhaps hot sex or close cuddles, the anniversary of a death is not fun.

Two years ago, my mom died. Mostly, I’ve adjusted to life without her at the other end of a phone line, without the visits to California, without the silly emails and the guilt-because-I-don’t-call-often-enough. Said guilt put on me, by me, by the way- she never said a word to make me feel that way, guess it’s part of my brain.

So mostly, I’ve gotten used to it, as I say. But there are still those times, when I really, really want to be able to talk to her. I want to tell her about the silly things one of the kids did, or when I’m feeling lonely and depressed, just to hear her calm voice, reminding me that we’re not given anything we can’t handle; to hear her say, as she often did, “Things have a way of working out.”

So today, it’s gray and cold, and I’m grateful for all the good things and people in my life, my wife and kids and friends; but, it’s still a sucky day, and I’m wishing that I could tell her, just once more, that I love her.

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Filed under: death, depression

Goodbye Madeleine

A sad day, for me. One of my favorite authors has died. She was elderly, lived to 88, and wrote prolifically, and I love her work. Madeleine L’Engle died yesterday.

Her books have been companions to me, since I first read A Wrinkle In Time when I was perhaps 12. Even as an adult, I’ve been adding more of her works to my library, and enjoyed most of them.

Wrinkle is especially important to me, as I use her knowledge of the darkness that is waiting, The Black Thing, as my own mechanism to cope with, and come to grips with my darkness, the depression that waits for me.

I know it doesn’t matter that the author didn’t know me, doesn’t know that I used her metaphors as my own. She had no clue that this particular book had such a profound and lasting impact on me that years later, I could find in my memory a way to think about darkness that worked for me.

No, she didn’t know these things, at least not in the way we “know” our family, or our friends or neighbors, or even in the way we who share our thoughts in blogs do, with our comments and reactions to each other. But, from interviews I’ve read, from the writings she’s left us, I know that she was aware of the depth that she gave to millions.

I’m going to miss her.

God Bless you, and Thank You, Madeleine.

Filed under: death, depression, goodbye, madeleine l'engle

Time Passes

Time can be a very interesting phenomenon, as many have observed before me. It stretches, vast and endless, as we wait impatiently for something much anticipated to arrive, or the special day to finally get here, or the end of school for all the squirming, restless kids. It can be interminable, while we wait for the diagnosis, the lab results, the next appointment that is available: “TheDoctoronlyseespatientsonalternateThursdaysinmonthsthataresafetoeatoystersthataren’thurricaneseasononthetropicalislandthatGilligandiscovered,whenhe’shadoatmealforbreakfastnotGilliganofcoursebuttheDoctorhadoatmealShallImakethatappointmentforyounowsir?”

Or, it can be astonishingly fleet, hours passing in a heartbeat of two entwined lovers, one position flowing to another and exhaustion setting in, with the realization that it wasn’t an hour, it was four. The brief glimpse of an afternoon, which speeds by in hardly the time it takes to turn the page when buried and engrossed with your favorite authors, be they novelists or bloggers.

How quickly indeed, an entire year can fly by, even when many, many of the days that comprise this twelve-month dragged with the slowness of molasses.

It has been about a year- (forgive me, but the exact date has actually been lost to my mind, and I’m not sorry about that)- it’s been a year since that day when in the midst of despair, buried under the crushing weight of black, cold darkness when absolutely nothing at all was even slightly, even remotely interesting; a year, since that dark, dark July day that I made the decision. It was, at the time, the only sensible thing to do- I marveled at my own slowness, my own stupidity. How could I have not *seen*? How, for a reasonably intelligent middle-aged man, could I have been so *dumb*?

The answer, it came to me blindingly, and I welcomed it, embraced it, cherished it, for it offered the solution- the pain, the dark despair, the hurt, oh, the constant never-ending soul grinding pain-

Kill yourself.

Kill yourself, and it will stop. There will be no more pain, no more darkness, no more bone-deep cold that no external temperature ever changes.

It was so seductive, so wonderfully soothing, that thought, that whisper from the black depths of my hell:

“If I were to kill myself, just think! Not only will it take away the pain, but Lynn, the kids- they’ll be better off too! They don’t need you, you’re in the way, they’re happy as long as you are the invisible man with a wallet. Why, they probably wont even miss you!

“Oh, sure, they’ll be a little sad maybe, at first, but they’ll soon realize that their lives will go on, just as before, and Lynn, she’ll appreciate one less person to take care of, a little more space in her bed, more time to play her games.

“The kids, they’re young, they’ll get over it, and they deserve a better father anyway, if you’re gone, maybe they’ll fix Lynn up, and have a dad that they deserve, you’re worthless as a father anyway.

“Go on, die a little, it’s better for all in the long run.”

So said the black thing, on that sunny day. I left my office, left my computer and chair and desk and the cells that we call cubicles. I left, and drove; my thinking was clear, I was going to head north and west, and I had just the spot- if I continued (as is normal for that area) at eighty miles-per-hour, and twisted the wheel just *there*, I would hit the bridge stanchion just so, and peace would be mine.

It had to be the bridge, you see, if I went tidily for pills (my other option), it would invalidate the insurance; and, I wasn’t so far gone even then, as to think leaving my children paupers would be a good idea.

A year, since then, and time has flown. I remember, as clearly as if it were yesterday, that day- bright sun, dark, dark shadows on my world. Clear blue skies, and all I could see was my own despair.

Obviously, I didn’t twist the wheel. I thank God, and Frank Warren, and Casie every single day. God, for letting me pass an accident, showing me that someone would have to clean up.

Frank, for constructing his project PostSecret, which book I had purchased not long before.

And Casie, for the letter she’d written, regarding the suicide hotline number that could be found in that book.

Now, I look back, and marvel- not at the simple clarity of my conviction that the only thing left was to die, but at the sneakiness of the Black Thing. Twisted, evil, malaevelent, wanting only pain, and in the end death, is the Black Thing. Disguised as a peaceful solution, offering the way out, and I almost fell for it. Missed it by about 8 inches, which I shall be eternally grateful for, now.

Amazing, where the time goes, isn’t it?

Filed under: Black Thing, death, depression, time

Thinking about death

October 25, 2006

Thinking about death, and life, and how many of the little things in life are like pieces of us, dying. How many things we grieve for, so many of them unimportant. Even knowing it’s foolish, how easy it is to get sucked into the cycle of mourning, even unconsciously.

I miss, sometimes desperately, so many people, so many things. Mom, and Ron, and Merle, and Grandma and Grandad. Even Gramps, who I have such a vague memory of, I miss sometimes- or rather, I guess I miss not getting to know him better, to see the man that so many children look up to with such awe.

It’s a part of growing, growing up, and all the platitudes apply; they’re in a better place, they’re not hurting now, lalalallalalalala.

So what? What does that do for us here, left behind to miss, and mourn, and grieve and cry and scream out our anger at them?

Feelings, too, I miss lately. I’ll never again be quite so naïve as I was, even a few months ago; for, I have seen the beast, and he’s big and scary and cold. The fog, it’s dank, and rank, and stinks. Yet, it’s a seductive, almost persuasive feeling; for all the scariness of it, it’s not as painful as allowing the real emotions, the true feelings to come through, to be experienced fully.

So what do the dying and the dead have to teach us? That to shut down, is to die, as surely as they are, as they have. And to die by giving up, that is the ultimate sin- for despair, it negates all the love that is around us and in us, and discounts as worthless the love that people have for us as individuals, as struggling imperfect human beings.

What to do, then, with the tears and the heartache and the sadness and the grief and the anger?

Feel it. Savor it, in all its pain, all its terror. For if it can be acknowledged, it can be overcome. “The truth will set you free,” is just as apt for an emotional state, or stage, as it is for the factual truths- which are so easy to handle, comparatively.

Innocence is never going to be here again, nor will blind unquestioning faith- but, how much deeper is a faith tempered by experience and reason? In so many things, faith is what is needed, in God, in Lynn, in Myself and my Family- so, how deep can this faith go?

Deep enough to live with.

Filed under: death, grief

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