This is a distant memory. Circa 1998
So much happens it's hard to remember what order they happened in.
For me, the last 9 years have made everything before it hazy. Stupid Hallmark Holidays like Father's Day have been imbued with such bad memories for me, I don't want anything to do with it. Sure, I was a father. I largely failed at it.
I remember the boys in this photo, taken on the 4th of July at a cousin's house. The one on the left has not gone off the rails at this point. Although he was always a willful, difficult and intelligent child. Puberty has not happened. The lying, long silences, drug abuse, jail time and violence are coming, but for this moment, with innocent anticipation of cheap fireworks imminent, no one knows it.
The one on the right, he's going to have his problems too, but they are the normal problems, benign problems. He will make mistakes. But none of his mistakes will involve parole and probation, or cardiac arrest and an ambulance ride. So, for that I'm grateful.
My own father is gone now, he's been gone for over 10 years. I've forgiven him for his failures, even though I haven't forgiven myself for mine. It's a long process.
I still miss him, and think of him often. And I see flashes of him in the mirror every morning. The fear. The fatigue. The lifetime of work. All done voluntarily, I might add.
It's how I was brought up. I fall far short. I don't work nearly as hard, can't do nearly as many things. And my sons were brought up differently. This is where the mistakes were made. I should have made them do things. Made them learn how to do things. Made them fail. Taught them not to fear failure. That is my biggest failing.
You can talk about what a "man" should do. How a "man" should handle things. You can talk about things all you want.
It's what you have done that is the measure of you. And will people see your works as a good thing or bad thing? What you say is a pale echo of what you have done.
Or, didn't do.
Of all the things taken away, or given away, or lost, lighthearted laughter is something I miss the most.
What am I supposed to do? I probably have 30 years left. Probably.
I don't want to live. I don't want to die.
My stubborn sense of history has gotten me this far.
But now I lack the confidence, the underlying conviction, that I'm right and alright.
That things will be fine.
Am I supposed to pretend that things are great, that reality will conform to my wishful thinking?
That's what all the self -helpers and 12-steppers tell me to do.
I have felt the unease my entire life. Even before I was aware.
I can't help but feel that we are going down the wrong road.
So, that leaves me with the conundrum. I still have to live.
I have no choice in the matter.I have to fight the quandary.
I don't want to put the book down.
I want to see what happens next.
So that's it, then. I'm disengaging from the pettiness.
I'm looking for things that matter, when I believe that nothing matters.
It's going to be. It has to.
See you around.