Faces

Have you ever gone an extended amount of time without seeing someone?  Maybe they live far away and all you do is talk with them on the phone, maybe they are distant relatives and you see them once or twice a year, or maybe you haven’t seen someone because you grew apart, one upset at the other; and your hurt too much by their words and actions, or maybe you both decided it is better to go your separate ways.

Yesterday I went to my dad’s shop.  I drove into the parking lot and his truck was parked in the back.  The previous three times I had gone there in the past 9 months, he wasn’t there.  His lot was empty, his shop closed, and my heart still broken.  We haven’t seen eye to eye for quite some time.  My decisions don’t exactly measure up to his plans for me.  He couldn’t understand my logic or my life’s path.  So, there was silence.  A long silence.  And a distance grew between us even though we were only 20 miles apart.  So I would take out a piece of paper, write a note on it, “Dad, I miss you. I love you. Wish you were here so I could say hi.”  I taped it to his front door, sat in my car for a few minutes, cried, and then drove away.

During those months of silence my heart ached.  It ached out of loneliness and sadness.  It ached for losing my father, for thinking I wouldn’t hear his voice again and see his face, or feel his skin on my skin.  It’s a devastating thing, to have family torn apart, ripped at the seams that once were sewn in place so  carefully.  With my little sister across the world and speaking badly about me, my older sister second guessing my decisions, and my dad upset with me, it left my mom in the middle.  By no means was she happy with my decisions, but nonetheless we tried to remain somewhat in touch, somewhat civil.  I’m sure some will ask why?  Well, because, we are family and there is love between us, and when nobody else talked to me, I tried to mend things with my mom.

I remember there were times I cried, I sobbed, I couldn’t control my emotions, and the tears just poured out of my eyes.  I couldn’t stop the pain and hurt that I felt inside and I wondered how could I go on without speaking to my parents.

But on this day, my dad’s truck was there.  Part of me was nervous, and excited, and part of me fearful.  It had been 9 months since I saw him and now was the moment I had been hoping and waiting for.  I knocked on the front door of his shop, my heart pounding.  I put my forehead onto the glass and peered in, I saw him walking towards me.  He unlocked the door and opened it.  We both smiled at each other.  Father and daughter face to face.  I looked at him, his face old, tired, thin, his hair gray, he seemed to have shrunk, I was just about as tall as he was now, his back hunched over slightly, and his belt seemed to hug his body tighter.  I was certain he had lost weight. Time doesn’t stop when you grow distant, it keeps going, people get older. Faces change and age is more easily seen. He will be 68 next month and after months of not seeing him, he is looking like an old man.

I said, it’s good to see you.  He said it’s good to see you too.  As he started to talk about his work and walk into the shop, I asked, can I give you a hug?  He paused, turned to me and we embraced.  It was short hug, he patted my back and let go, that sort of hug was not unusual for him.  But then I said, a longer hug, please.  I held on tightly to him, my arms wrapped around his body, not wanting him to go.  After a moment, he softened, and we hugged, for real.  He started to tear up, as did I.  I whispered I love you and I have missed you in his ear, and he said I love you too.  As the hug finished we stepped back from each other, I looked at him, and couldn’t believe how much time I have lost because of not seeing him.  But on this day, I was grateful for him, for the time together, and for being near him.

Can’t See the Happiness through the Pain

It rained today as I walked along the shoreline of a pond; I stopped to watch the drops sink below the surface of the water strewn with dark red leaves, and studied the shallow ripples as they rolled together, slowly dying out.

The air was quiet, dull, thick and moist and as I walked the fallen leaves made no sound below my feet.

I didn’t mind the rain, it was light and the drops seemed to float to the ground in no big hurry.

I wasn’t really cold nor was I warm, and the rain on my neck didn’t bother me much.

I didn’t care that I had to go back to work soon and I didn’t care that the trees were bare and the sun was away.

In fact the only thing that seemed to matter was the lack of everything; I felt no connection to the Earth, the trees or the sky.

But pain is always there to welcome me, there is a sense of sadness, a feeling hidden somewhere beyond the colors of the fall and the reflections of me in the raindrops.

It’s there always, rising from the ground like humidity in the desert brilliantly reflecting everything back at me, making everything appear real, but I know it’s just a vision, a transparent image that hides the hurt until I need it again.

Sometimes though, the reflection hides even the good, the happiness, and then I can’t see it through the pain.

contemplation

Don’t let people that don’t matter, matter too much.

Are you ever disappointed in yourself and you get down and just feel like crap, like mush, and like a loser. do you ever feel like whenever you seem to get one step ahead, you get pushed back about ten steps and then you have to start climbing again.  How about those thoughts in your head, the voices saying you’re not enough, you don’t compare to other people, what you’re doing is sub-par, you’re not making an impact, you’re wasting your time and your talents. Do you ever lie in bed at night, tossing and turning wondering what tomorrow will bring.  Will you be disappointed or will you be elated, will you be singing praises or melancholy.  This life is so unpredictable. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it all, you are quickly washed away and taken out to sea, amongst the rubble, the waves, and the storms.  There is never a break.  There is never a moment that is 100% stillness and rest.  The world keeps on moving, keeps on keeping on, and it doesn’t get easier.  It is a hard realization that life is not a piece of cake.  That is why you have to savor the good moments and know or hope that the sad moments won’t last forever. You have to find the good in yourself and others and not become too bitter about the idiotic people around you.  You have to know that you’re doing the best that you can and give yourself credit for all that you are going through and all that you have been through, and where you are in this moment.  I guess it’s never to late to make a comeback, or to find yourself smiling for no reason.  The best moments are when you’re laughing, the real type of laughing that makes your belly hurt, and then you ask yourself why was I laughing in the first place.  It’s about surrounding yourself with people you love, and people that love you.  It’s about finding solace and inner peace.  It’s about losing yourself in the moment and then coming up for air and saying today isn’t so bad after all.  It’s about being grateful and thankful, finding time to be generous with yourself and giving yourself a break to just breathe.  Today might be dark, rainy, and dreary, but the sun still shines overhead and will one day come out to light up the world and your inner soul.

disappointment

life doesn’t always go your way. shit get over yourself, life isn’t just about you.

there are disappointments and there’s regret, there’s sadness and there’s grief.

nobody said this life would be easy.

it comes with challenges, it comes with struggle, it comes with trials and it comes with dead ends.

I suppose the people that say life is grand, are living in a perpetual dream.

there’s no such thing as never ending bliss. it’s just not how life is.

that happy face gets tired of smiling.

sometimes I feel numb inside and feel sad.

thank goodness it doesn’t last forever, like it once did.

please tell me I’m not the only one that experiences these emotions. tell me I’m not alone.

So this is it

So this is it, I sit nervously speaking directly into the small microphone on the desk in front me, to the judge poised above me and behind his big oak dais. To my left is my attorney, she is older, appears frail to a point with short, dark crimson hair but doesn’t hesitate to speak up. To her left, my soon to be ex-wife, she is dressed for success in a sleeveless blouse and nice pants. She has a look that seems to say she is somewhere far away. She never looks at me, even when we met in the hallway before hand, when she spoke to me she looked out the fourth floor window or at the floor. Now we all face the judge, it’s a very quiet room and we wait as he flips through the divorce decree page by page. He takes a sip of water from a clear glass and the folds his hands together and leans forward, in a deep and pudgy voice he says “You two have been very respectful and mature during this process, I don’t often deal with a couple like you whom manage to get through this with sensibility.” I respect that about you two and applaud you for it.

I don’t know how to feel just then, I am proud of us, my ex-wife and me. I am beginning to falter also, I look over at Angie and I see that her eyes are full of clouds; she uses the middle part of her index finger to check her eyes in an attempt at keeping the tears at bay. This has been a long process and I have been impatient at times but mostly I have felt great sadness as I do now. I feel a sense of loss for something that has lasted twenty two years.  When she and I met she was 16 and I was 20, we married in 1992 and moved far away from her parents. We have had four children, the first one is Aspergers, extremely high functioning; she is 21 and is in college studying to be a prosthetics engineer, the other ones are also all very educated and intelligent, kind and wonderful. We must have done something right, together. I think for many years our marriage was amazing, and I think for years we struggled, especially after my tours in the military overseas in South West Asia, and we both grew apart emotionally, trying to nurture and develop our own selves through-out strain and emotional neglect.

It’s at those times that a person must reach inside and rely on their skills at surviving and adapting, and neither of us ever had those lessons as we grew up kids in the homes in which we lived. For very different reasons, both homes were very dysfunctional and I am afraid we both learned inappropriate ways of dealing with emotional struggles. That didn’t serve us well later on in our lives, in our marriage. Eventually we looked for different things to make us happy and help us go on. We concentrated on the children, they were always our main focus, albeit with different ideas and styles but still it was about the kids.

Two people can only go on so long in that way, they become less of a couple and more of a team, and when that team begins to fade and fall apart, so too does the communication and support and success of that team. And that becomes obvious to the children and that becomes hurtful and neglectful to them as well. We practiced good front stage behavior for a while, but more and more time was spent in separate dressing rooms off stage. We tried counseling and tried a few different avenues and means of treatment both as a couple and as individuals.

Finally, in the end all we had left of each other in our hearts were echoes of past times when things were good, but even those have been muddied, covered over with a thin but rank layer of regret, anger, disappointment and misery. I still love her and I always will, I think she is responsible for saving me more than a few times, I am broken and always was and from the start she knew it but saw something then that she wanted, that had value, that she was attracted to. I guess that only lasts so long until its only shadows in the fog, drifting in and out around us until we don’t even recognize it any longer and then it melts into history.

So this is it, as the judge signs off on the twentieth page of a document that legally terminates our marriage I am conflicted, feel torn apart and opened up like a gutted fish. As we walk out the front door of the Family Justice Center in the middle of downtown, surrounded by cranes and jackhammers, cars and busses and trucks, I watch as she quickly, steadily and forever walks away from me, never looking back. Lost in the crowded streets, a friend, a wife, and a consort. I have lost someone I have loved for more than twenty two years. Regardless of the circumstances, the hurt, the deception, the anger, the heart still bleeds; even whilst it runs dry it will desperately continue to beat until there is nothing left to beat for. Then standing there, empty and alone, looking for a spark, for shelter from the approaching cold and waits.

The Breaking of a Father’s Heart

When she smiles his whole world lights up and his mind goes blank,

his heart slows and he wishes all time would stop and let him see her like that forever.

Her eyes sparkle and her skin becomes radiant, when she smiles.

 

When he thinks of her when she’s gone he can’t wait to see her again,

he misses her and tries to think of reasons to text her just to say hi.

Would a man dare become a father if he knew how much his life would change,

Would he back away and try and protect his heart from breaking all the time?

Could he walk away, knowing that on the darkest days, when storms rush all around him,

And he’s cold and afraid, that his daughter can make everything disappear with a simple “hello daddy”?

 

Once committed, a father‘s heart never stops getting broken, from the day his little tiny girl gets on that big ‘ol bus, to the day she drives away all by herself in the car, he worries about her, he thinks about her.

 

He can no longer protect her, he doesn’t get to hold her hand and walk her in to school.

He can only wait for her to come home, and when she does his heart breaks all over again.

The Strange Presence of a Man

Every morning he awakes in a strange home, he showers in a strange bathroom, he brushes his teeth and shaves the face of a strange person, there is something recognizable about the guy staring back at him through the mirror, as though he’d known him a long time ago. He makes his coffee and eats his breakfast and goes to work. He spends 8 to 10 hours a day working at the same place he has for the last 16 years. When the business day is over, he gets into the same car he’s driven for years and travels a strange route to the strange home he goes to sleep in every night.

When he remembers things, when he smells certain things that spark echoes of experiences past, the feelings attached to those echoes, seem different, they seem almost false, like they belong to someone else. As he gets out of his car and walks to the strange mail box to get his mail, his shadow keeps step, but it is only reminiscent of his self, even his shadow seems strange. When he lies down at night, in his huge strange bed, as he closes his strange eyes he begins to dream, in which he is always standing at the helm of a small ship, like a long sailboat. He stands gripping the cold teak wheel in his hands that never feel strange in his dreams. Looking out over the bow of his craft, he can’t see through the thick fog, as he glances side to side now and again he catches glimpses of shoreline both port and starboard but never fore and aft.

In his dreams he never questions where he is going, he just keeps moving, and the fog collects on his cheeks and rolls down his neck in clean, translucent droplets before soaking into his shirt collar. The only sound being that of the otherwise still, quiet water as it washes along the hull of his boat and forms a settling wake off the stern. There is an air of patient excitement for what lies ahead in the cool, bright, enveloping whiteness, and as he turns to look back there is an unsettling notion of darkness that stains the fog left behind. There is no strangeness here on this vessel; there is no pain, no sadness, and no loneliness. There is just present time, an existential existence, a sentiment of being present for the sake of it.

And so he dreams, and when he wakes, he opens his strange eyes, sits up and stands at the window and looks out at the strange tree in the backyard. There is no boat, no vessel to quietly drift upon, and as strange noises slowly collect in his ears, so does pain and loneliness and fear followed by desire, and hope and a sense of wonder and desperation.