June 23, 2002

reality check

If you suffered through some early trauma--say your father's death when you were a kid--and at that moment they tell you he's dead you feel it alter who you are, who you will become, and at that moment it settles within you like some heavy suitcase you are assigned to carry around your whole life, well if you've ever felt something like that, then you know what I mean.

You know what I mean when I say it's there, it's always been there, will always be there. Sometimes you can put it down, like for a few minutes at a time--when you're riding your horse, when you fall in love, say "I Do." When the doctor's pulling your baby out of the hole in your abdomen, when you're making love. I can put it down then. I feel it slip off of me. I feel so light. Which makes picking it up again all that much more overwhelming. And when I don't feel the exhaustion, then I feel the anger. Why do I have to lug this stinking thing around everywhere I go, and look at her, she's not carrying one like mine. What'd I do, what am I being punished for? Why am I different?

But the real kicker is that sometimes the loss you have always believed was the biggest loss in your life, that heavy samsonite hardshell you take with you everywhere you go, wasn't the biggest after all. And sometimes you get flashes and glimpses that maybe the things that were there in your life--the things that you counted on--the things that should have helped you with that suitcase when you were just six, and then 12, and then 16, 18, 22, 38, well, they didn't. Maybe they even gave you theirs to carry too.

And then you start thinking, what is the source of my sadness? My anguish-turned-terror sometimes. Is its source that person you had for six years and didn't have for 34 years? That has been my journey--the journey of mourning "without." And maybe you ask yourself, is this kind of a heavy trip to lay on your Dad, and on yourself? Or is it, maybe a convenient one? Can't do anything about that one but deal with it. Can't bring him back. Can't change that six-year-old child's reaction. Job done. Pick up the samsonite and move on. Find a skycap if you're lucky. Get some good poetry out of it.

But, what about the other 34 years? Um. What happened? Who were the players? What were their roles? What was my role?

What the fuck, what the fucking fuck?

And now what?