He had four kids of his own. His wife ruled the roost, he said, but I always knew he was a co-conspirator in running the household, taking care of what he could. She died not too long ago. He was crushed, utterly devastated. We would walk in the park sometimes and not talk, just walk. He didn’t want to be asked how he was, or make conversation. He was so obviously distraught. He could not understand why everyone else could not figure that out and ask anything but how are you, or say, “If there’s anything you need…give me a call.”
We usually shit the bed when something like death approaches us, particularly if death is on another person, lingering around. It is as though we think if we stay away, it will stay away from us. My uncle told me today we are all walking around in dead people’s clothes. We just haven’t died yet. (the older, wiser way of saying, “Don’t kid yourself, it is closer than you think.”)
It is unusual to know this super, duper guy is not on the earth anymore. That he is past-tense. I remember my last interaction with him – a text message, of all things.
My mother texted me the news last night. I sat there in bed looking at the message for a while, reading it, re-reading it. Trying to be sure of what I was reading. She has a wanderlust for emoticons.
My father left a note on my door the day one of my coworkers committed suicide. Kind of a “just letting you know this happened” note. Total dick move.
That went through my head briefly. I put it aside and called her.
It is always a good idea not to be mean. We have no idea what anyone is going through in life. If anything, we need to be cared for much more than we will receive care. My mother is no exception. She is a tired woman. She lost her cousin, too. I explained how close I was to this man who died and she realized on her own how much I must feel his loss, too. And we connected, just like that.
My wife sat next to me, concerned. My mom chose to make a political statement by declining to attend our wedding. So, it goes without saying that being emotionally destroyed is a possibility when dealing with my mother.
I tracked down some of my cousins this morning. They live close to my son’s school. I had to talk to a few neighbors because they had relocated recently, but I showed up at their front door eventually. It was good to be face to face. We are so rarely able to face each other when we need to, relying on the stupidity of technology to gloss over our fears and do the bold confidence for us.
I have enclosed an Erica Jong poem from a collection called Becoming Light. It just jumped right out there, out of the folds at me today, so I’m sending it to you. Along with a Metro ticket from 18 years ago, because that was holding the page.