Friday, December 2, 2016

Tis the season...

I didn't write a blog post in November. In fact, I didn't write a single thing (except a one-page journal entry) for the entire month. Although I had several writing projects going, and I'd said that I was going to do NaNoWriMo, I didn't, and I pretty much abandoned everything regarding writing. Or singing. I didn't sing, either, which is pretty unusual for me.

While everyone else was weeping over or celebrating the results of the national election, I was learning that a close family friend had taken his own life. So yeah, as time periods go, November really blew. In most years, November is a good month for me (despite the dreaded time change and the ever-expanding darkness). Our family celebrates a big Thanksgiving at my brother's house, and I see people I don't see the rest of the year. But this year my brother had the stomach flu... and certain family members were unhappy with other family members.... You know, typical family stuff (though in other years, we've been great at setting all that aside).

So Thanksgiving was canceled, essentially. And John opted out of a life that was fraught with pain and loneliness. And my son, who had originally planned to stay a week with me, ended up staying for two. When I returned from driving him to San Diego where he will hop a flight back to Ohio, I told myself this: "You may now return to living inside your head."

Because that's what it takes for me to produce anything on the page. I have to ponder, contemplate, muse and reflect. I have to be still in the silence and listen to what my heart is singing about. Whatever the song turns out to be is what I am feeling. All that is left, then, is to determine why I am feeling what I am feeling.

My son has been gone nearly twenty-four hours and mostly what I have heard is silence. I did not hear the owl calling last night nor did I hear the coyotes howling. The churning of the washer and the hum of the refrigerator are all that are breaking through.

I don't know what to think or feel or say about John's death. Of all my friends who struggle with the darkness, he was the least likely on my list to finally say, "I'm done." I'm trying not to feel guilty. (If I'd called more often... made more of an effort to go see him....) Intellectually, that's wasted energy; it wasn't my fault, was not my decision, and it certainly won't change things for John. I think I'm also trying not to feel relieved or at least admit to those feelings. John was a big, hard man and he lived a big, hard life (to riff off of Eddie Vedder's song). Once his body began to break down from all its years of hard living, his pain was monumental. And he wanted to be loved. He desperately wanted to find exquisite, transcendental, romantic love (as we all do, really, if the truth were told), but that had proven to be an elusive dream... and he was nearing seventy. I'm sure he felt his time had come and gone, and there was little left to live for. The last several times we'd talked or spent time together, he'd cried. He wanted to go off-roading in his 4x4 truck and take long motorcycle rides on his Harley, and he wanted to do all that without feeling stiff and tired and achy the next day. And he wanted to fall head over heels in love. In short, he wanted to be young again. I wish on all that is sacred to me I could have helped him do that. But I couldn't.

I guess I'm glad Thanksgiving was canceled. It would not have been the same without John's booming laughter (followed by his horrendous chronic smoker's cough) at the table. It's almost like the Universe felt my pain and said, "You know what, let's just skip this one. Next year will be better."

Next year will. Time will give me opportunity to muse and reflect. And hey, back there a couple of paragraphs ago, I think I started to hear a song.

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