Beyond some superficial discussion, I have not said this out loud…
The reflections here are my own and are not intended to be representative of anyone other than myself. Take what you need. Leave what you can.
Some of my favorite people have been beautifully broken. The best part about a break in perfection is the unique way that healing takes place. Scars are not made to match another, but to represent a story, an experience, or an injury. I love to know that at some point you have failed, learned a lesson, and found that part of you that wants to carry on. I admire what happens to people when, for a moment, the obstacle looks much larger than the will to overcome it.
Imagine that on any given day, without warning, the baseline that you encounter falls at less than zero. You are wading just below the surface. The waves are insurmountable and your arms are weak. The only thing that unites your lungs with the air you need is a brick. As you grab the brick, you are able to float briefly. You can see the sunshine. You breathe in deeply. Then you are back under. This happens repeatedly and in short enough intervals for your body to sustain life. It does not end.
Take yourself to the shore. That is where you can find me. Watch as someone you love gasps repeatedly. There are moments when the time above water lasts for a moment. You can see that if they just let go and relax, they will float. In this time you can speak, you can dream, and you can hope. Then the waves rise and the brick comes back. You are not equipped with the tools to break this cycle. Left helpless, but hopeful, you are an onlooker to destruction.
In brief, I am the child of addiction. There is no simple way to encompass what that means. There is no further validity in giving a vice a name. There are groups, complete with manuals, for people like me. There are people that think addiction is a weakness, a complete an utter lack of perseverance. There are also people that are not correct. There are people fighting to survive now. And, there are people that are watching at a safe distance, probably silently ripped to shreds.
There is relief now. There is no worry when a car accident has been broadcast that I could know the driver. There are no more questions when my phone rings. The days of wondering how it could end are a safe distance behind me. I find myself in a parental place. I hope that for a moment, or for a collection of moments, there was peace. I want to believe that joy permeated every part of his being for a moment.
I am thankful for an incredible work ethic. My improvement, though, is determination to succeed without sacrifice to self. What would my life be like today if I was never able to lose myself in textbooks? What if he never gave me my first complete set of encyclopedias? What if I never watched football? What if my lullabies were never written by Kipling?
My father passed away. I was naive. Although there are always stories, or someone else’s experiences, I made death a romantic process. There would be a time to be old, and health would decline in a way that was not tragic. In my bubble, I imagined, there would be sadness, and I could see it coming. Sudden, ugly, and painful were not on my imaginary menu of experiences. It is impossible to say what was felt, because a combination of everything and nothing does not have a word.
I have stumbled repeatedly over what kind of message I wanted to relay when I decided there was a message to give. There are moments that can not be duplicated. I am the child of addiction. I am also the child of a father that did everything he could with everything he had to make sure I did something more than he could. Fear-driven rage turned to empathy with time. I have genuine compassion for anyone touched by the pain that addiction can bring. We cope differently. I have learned that the best relationship I can have with some people is a complete absence of one.
Grief will not expire. I do not want to meet the day that apathy wins over an intense emotion. One extreme will not exist without the other, and I remind myself of that when the feelings are blue. When thinking about my own approach to spirituality and death, as concrete as it is, there is poetry. I will, often without intention, assign a song to something or someone. The following is where I keep myself close to my father.
Take What You Need. Leave What You Can.
Audioslave- Like a Stone
“On my deathbed I will pray
To the gods and the angels
Like a pagan to anyone
Who will take me to heaven
To a place I recall
I was there so long ago
The sky was bruised
The wine was bled
And there you led me on
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I’ll wait for you there
Like a stone
I’ll wait for you there