I’m going to be temporarily out of my mind and probably suicidal when my father dies. Everyone knows this. So I’m trying to mitigate. It will pass, I just have to ride it out but it’s a trip trying to protect yourself from yourself. I mean – think about that…. seriously….
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
— Dylan Thomas
So my dad’s heart is failing. It’s just a general wearing out process. He won’t get better. He’ll continue to deteriorate until he lands in an ICU somewhere… and then shortly after that it’ll be over. It’s hard to wrap my head around that.
So daddy is in a skilled nursing facility. It’s not a hospital but it’s not a nursing home either. It’s some netherland that feels like both.
But he’s got climate control.
Crazy seduces. Even when it sucks it’s awsome and that blows. It’s hard to describe the sensation. It’s about pain and joy and distance. Wait long enough and no matter how stable and med compliant you are, it always, always returns. It’s deeply personal. It alters your trajectory in unpredictable ways.
For me it usually starts out with sadness that then progresses to mania. The sadness is wholly seductive. It feels like love – the way you feel when you love someone or are in love with someone. That nurtures the whole fucked up experience. Eventually sadness makes it hard to sleep and once sleep deprivation sets in, mania blooms. Compared to the sadness, mania is a shot of adrenaline. The best manic states are deeply painful. Awfully so. It’s really cool and none of it is real.
Snap out of it.
I miss my pops.
Where I was concerned the world was a chess game to my dad. He plotted every move and counter move – he loved me so.
I was a risk taker and that drove him bat-shit-crazy but I never worried. Daddy worried enough for both of us.
He doesn’t worry anymore.
I don’t know who i am without that. I really don’t. I navigated the world through constant disapproval. I thought that meant I didn’t measure up but the truth is that he never thought my choices were worthy of me.
I wish I’d been smarter but I was so focused on opposing the true north of his disapproval that I couldn’t see that he really did love me. He always loved me. I’d pay good money for that wrath today.
I’ve been through this a few times. I was first hospitalized on an involuntary admission after a suicide attempt in March 2011. I stayed out of the mental healthcare system for three years or so…. then in January 2014 I checked into a psychiatric hospital in my area. The city where I live has a thriving homeless population – it’s reasonably temperate climate throughout the year attracts an amazing array of characters. They goose the mental health system for short term housing, medical care and social services support. There are a lot of frequent flyers who spend many months in the same facility every year. Although private pay insurance reimburses the hospital at a higher rate, the county programs allow for longer periods of hospitalization so the hospital makes its money processing the homeless and the disabled.
You almost never, ever want to end up at a place like that. I’ll go a step further and flatly declare that if you feel hopeless and in need of help – keep it to yourself.
These are not your people.
So dying blows but living is hard too. When death grips you – there are no more choices, mercies, mistakes or pain. All you can do is strap in and trust the universe. Inevitability cradles and comforts you – and only you – in the maybe the most intimate exchange possible.
It’s the living who have to deal with the void.
Fuck that shit. It’s time to get drunk.
Seriously. You have these innnocent babies and all they know is mom and dad. Eventually they know mom and dad in turmoil. It’s always a unit even when there never was one. The parents eventually loathe each other but all the kids see is mom and dad. That’s it.
You want to be nice and you’re mostly praying for fairy dust to make that wish come true.
The time you spend between birth and your 40’s is about expanding your influence and power. It’s possible to lose sight of the fact that it will end. You know in the future you’ll retire and your career will be over. Hopefully you saved enough money to be comfortable and safe. Small moves.
In the beginning it’s a tall arched trajectory – endlessly climbing toward an apex that signals, hopefully, a gentle forward decline, although that can certainly go horribly wrong. My trajectory is at the apex – suspended in midair without a parachute – no more climbing – just waiting for gravity to pull me back down to earth.
I’ve done the very best I can do. I can do good work for years to come but I have to decouple my identity from my accomplishments. A body in motion transcends altitude.