“Strength shows, not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hello old friend.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I have four good friends, including my wife.  She’s the only one who lives close and out of the four, I’ve known her the shortest, although most of the time it feels like I’ve known her my whole life.

The next closest is the one I’ve known the longest (going on twenty years now, buddy!).  He lives about three and a half hours away.

My next closest geographically, and the one I’ve known the next longest (what is it? 13 years now?) lives about eight and a half hours away.

The farthest lives about seventeen hours away by car and I met him a few months after I met the last guy.  We made that drive once.  From there to here.  It was an amazing experience.  We drank caffeinated beverages and ate No-Doze like they were candy.  We drove through a exaggeratedly-lit tunnel in and under Alabama that I still see in my dreams sometimes.  We skated across the foggy swamps of Louisiana in a fog of our own.  We jammed Tom Waits and Modest Mouse and whatever else the burned CDs and iPods had in store.  It was something else.  Surreal but Hyper-real.  Life-changing to say the least.

We don’t talk as much as we used to.  Life’ll do that.  But he’s still one of my best friends and when we do talk it’s always a treat.   I talked to him earlier today.  I’ve had a whirlwind of a past year or so and I’m trying once again to start over for the last time so I needed some feedback.  Do you know what he left me with at the end of the conversation.  Verbatim:

“.. get the blog back!  Its been almost a year man”

Damn, Bones.  You got me again.  So here it is.

I didn’t know what to write about when I started this.  I just knew that I wanted to get it going again.  Make some changes.  Do some things more and and some things differently from here on out.  Restart.  Start again.

It’s been a rough year.  We observed? celebrated? the one-year anniversary of my Dad dying a few weeks ago.  I’ve dipped in and out of depression and anxiety and anger and fits of manic happiness and numbness.  I got fired from my job for not doing something that I was never told to do.  I got another job and have since nearly double my wages.  My wife and I had another beautiful baby girl, born on what would’ve been my father’s 69th birthday.  I’ve been beaten and lifted and soothed and then beaten and lifted and soothed all over again.  It has been, in my own words, “a landmark year.”  But I’ve gotten through it.  Not flawlessly or expertly or effectively and sometimes just barely.  But I’ve gotten through it.  So far.  I don’t think the struggle will ever go away.  I don’t necessarily want it to.  But I’m changing the way I react to it.  I’m going to struggle regardless, so why now struggle for what I want?  For me, my wife, our family.  I’m starting anew and I’m starting here and now.

My wife, my best friend told me today to “choose my hard.”  She said it’s all hard: going to work, doing the things, why not pick the hard that works for you?  Goddamn brilliant.  So I’m choosing this for her, for me, for us, for anyone and everyone and no one.  I’m choosing my struggle and carving out the life that I think is worth struggling for.

Here we go.

 

Again,

Glass

“The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” – Carl Jung

I’ve been avoiding this post.  I’ve been avoiding this whole blog to be honest, save for the occasional stats-check here and there.  I haven’t written anything in about five weeks, which is along time, even for me.  I’m going to tell you now that this post is not going to be a very pleasant one, at least in the beginning.  It is going to be very dark and then probably darker and very emotional and then it should end on a positive note, if all goes well.

You see, my dad died on March 8th.  I typed and retyped that sentence a few different ways to maybe soften the blow (I hear I can be overly blunt sometimes), but the truth is that my father is dead.  He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last summer, it was 95% gone by November, then came back with a vengeance and took his life.

My wife and I consulted Betsy Braun’s book Just Tell Me What to Say when we were trying to figure out how to break the news to our four year-old daughter.  We didn’t tell her much during the first round of chemo because the outlook was good and we really didn’t know what all was going to happen.  Then the cancer came back and we felt like we should prepare her for the worst, especially once my dad decided that he would rather stay at home than suffer through another round of chemo.  So Betsy Braun says to be honest and use the medical terminology and avoid euphemisms.  During the first round:  Papa has lumps inside his body called cancer that makes him sick but the doctors have a very strong medicine called chemotherapy that they think will help and they know a lot about cancer so they’ll know the best ways to help Papa get better.  Later, during hospice:  The medicine didn’t work and cancer is making it harder and harder for Papa’s body to work.  Papa’s body is going to stop working soon and he is going to die.  Then:  Papa died today.

This is difficult.  I can remember her reaction to each conversation.  I can remember the works coming out of my mouth feeling like barbed wire but sounding much smoother.  Trying to stay strong for everyone around me.  I think it might be harder now in some ways though, now that the shock is gone, and the memorial service and internment have passed.  I feel like a  lot of other people have moved on and maybe don’t think about him as much as I do.  I know they don’t.  But I think about it everyday.

You see, I’m the one that found my dad.  My wife spilled her heart out to him, we left the room, and when I returned less than five minutes later, he was gone.  I still think about his face.  His eyes.  His hands.  I think about the Medical Examiner coming to the house and the funeral home workers coming to get him in the hearse and how terribly sad it all was and my  through all of it.  I kept/keep thinking it’s a joke and that he’ll call or come around the corner and we’ll all be pissed that he played such a mean joke but so happy that he’s still alive.  I think about all the things he’s going to miss and how I should’ve called more and how I miss him so much that it physically hurts.

My dad is dead and I was not, am not ready for it and each second, hour, dayweekmonth that goes by is that much further from the last time I’ll ever see him alive or otherwise.  I held his hand as the warmth left it and my heart filled with pain and sadness and I sat and played guitar for him while we waited for the official people to come and officially say he was dead and take him away.  I helped the guy take the hospice equipment out of my parents’ bedroom and out of the house so that my mother could sleep in the room again without the glaring reminder that her husband had just died there.

Her husband, my dad, my hero is dead and I keep hoping that I’ll feel better about it if I tell myself a hundred, thousand, hundred thousand times a day, but it doesn’t.  I was not, am not ready for him to not be here.  I was not, am not ready to be an adult without him in my life to provide me with the paragon of what it means to be a husband, a dad, a hero.  There are so many big things coming up that I want his advice on, that I want him to see and be a part of.  I want my daughter to have two grandpas because I didn’t.  I want her to have strong, decent men (and women) in her life so that she grows up with high expectations and standards for interpersonal relationships.  I want my dad around because he was, is the best man I know and I miss him so much it hurts.

It’s almost exactly one day later and I’m glad I stopped where I did.  That train of thought tends to dip into some even heavier stuff that I probably shouldn’t ever put in writing or say out loud.  I talked to my wife last night.  I talked to my mom, too.   I slept better; I feel better.

[My dad’s death is like a semi-colon; a break in the sentence that unifies the pre&post the before&after in all of this.]

One of the biggest thoughts I have about all of this, something that I wrestle with almost every single day, concern the Why’s.  Why him?  Why us? Why now? Why not that guy? Why did the cancer go away in the first place?  Why did it come back?

The truth, The Truth is that our world in its entirety, life  Life as a Whole is beyond our understanding.  I believe in God and Jesus.  My God is not a white-haired old man, but an energy that permeates everything and creates a balance within all of existence.  This thought, this idea of a balance is what keeps me going when the going gets tough.  Faith is a powerful tool in situations like this and situations that aren’t like this at all.  Faith is the current in the river, the warmth in sunlight.  I feel better today, but I don’t feel great everyday.  I have to wrap my head around this and have faith that my dad is in a better state.  That his energy lives on and that his soul is balanced and cleansed and where God intends it to be.

I miss my dad.  I know that it is going to continue to be hard without him around.  But I also know, because he told me, that it’s important to keep living my life.  It’s funny but I appreciate the days like this, the ones where I feel good and energetic and happy? more, mainly because of how sad I’ve been recently.

So, in closing.  I would like to proudly announce that Mrs. Glass and I are expecting Baby Number Two!  We don’t know if it’s a boy or girl yet, but the due date just so happens to be on my dad’s birthday!  We are so very happy and thankfully my dad got the opportunity to see the first sonogram while he was alive.  I now that wherever he is, he’s looking out for us, all of us, and that he lives on in our hearts and our blood and our name and our memories.

I love you, Dad.

 

 

Half-full, half-empty,

Glass