Friday, October 17, 2014

when grown men cry.

we are supposed to grow up good.

and in this world of all being fair or all being well, there's not enough love and there's too much war and not much really ends well. i miss grant. and as much as i didn't know jeni very well, and as much as i cried real hard at jake's funeral, and as much as i wanted to go to jim's but couldn't get my passport in time, i've not been as angry about death as i am now.

i'm fucking pissed.

when we grow up, we are supposed to look up to people, supposed to be fed myths and legends and things that will make us be good people when we're too old for band-aids and too tired to fall in love. when we grow up, we are supposed to be good, supposed to be exemplary, supposed to still believe in concrete and important things that are enormous and amazing and too profound to fit in an italicized hallmark card in the stuffy aisle at the drug store. when we grow up, we should know better than to think things are fair, than to believe in santa claus or tooth fairies, than to go on inspiration alone. and at the same time, we should turn right around and nurture this behavior in the youth; propagate myths and outrageous hope; believe that good will prevail.

well, it fucking won't.

because there will be cancer. and there will be bodies that can't overcome cancer. and there will be patients who'll 'lose' their 'battle with cancer'. and there will be doctors who can't fix people and nurses who can't walk up the fucking stairs to administer drugs that won't cure the people we love anyway.

conrad marched slowly toward me in the line and looked like a mountain undergoing immediate and devastating erosion. he was a landslide. as he towered over me and crumbled visibly, he dwarfed my hands firmly in his and strengthened his voice and uttered a few words about 'a good man'. then he said it was too bad 'we couldn't save him'. conrad is a fucking financial adviser and i'm a useless son-in-law and neither of us knows shit about oncology other than knowing that word means you know sadness and loss and how fucking stupidly unfair all this sham is. then he blinked into the distance and took small steps away before fading into the hallway all covered in taupe and tears. funeral homes are not fair.

and tonight my daughter is sad because she no longer has a grandpapa. she only ever had one, and she was the one who made him a grandpapa, and now that amazing wonderful man is gone. and he wasn't even done yet. some people get taken when they're done and ready. some people get taken before they've even gotten going. and her grandpapa got taken in the middle of it all, in the prime of his rich, rich life, practically right out of her chubby little arms.

my lady is too stubborn to let go in front of any of us. she insists on being strong and tough and independent. she insists on taking care of all of us. she insists that that's what her dad would have wanted. and she's probably right. but i'm pretty fucking sure he would have wanted me to take care of her too. and frankly, i don't know how.

i have spent many of my ottawa hours in the good man's garage, fetching tools for him when he was well, then looking for hidden items when he wasn't, and now trying to make sense of things i've never understood. like the MG-B. or the collections of tools and lubes and paints but nothing to clean them up when they spill, or cover our ears from the noise. i guess that's kinda how things are going right now; we were so caught up in getting it all done, we weren't ready to clean up yet.

my lady mentioned today in her eulogy that she needed her dad's cancer diagnosis to slow her down, help her focus on the time that we actually had left, focus on making memories while we could. i drove thousands of kilometers every month, up to ottawa and back, making sure we had memories. and the old man, bless his heart, always had a ready smile, no matter the pain, and a firm handshake, no matter the lost weight, and a fire in his hopeful eyes, no matter the sunken cheeks. we slowed down. he sped up. in the friction between both lifestyles we made sparks of memories to keep. tonight i'm grasping at them before they fade into the sky. it is not fair.

so i held little z tonight.

at just seven months, he has been a perfect little gentleman the whole of his little life, and he seems to embody all of the calm and patience the old man put forth into this world. i held him just now, for a few hours, watching him sleep and breathe and dream and flail in his slumber, then settle and breathe again. he is calm and strong. his smile is ready.

my lady just got back from cleaning out the old man's office. stuck to a sticky corkboard on faded yellow paper was a simple objective typed, on a typewriter, in courier font size 12: to provide for my family and somehow do something to make this world a better place. in all that is completely unfair and undone and left unfinished and unwell, at least he accomplished his objective. a million fucking times over.

salut, monsieur. dormez bien.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


the first five notes of the koln concert are the least important of the first twenty-six minutes and they are followed by a ringing silence that can open a soul.

i have listened to the koln concert throughout most of my overemotional existence, ever since i was almost a teenager, ever since i had a favorite uncle, ever since i could stay up too late and wish that i was having a deep conversation with my dad while the rest of the kids were supposedly asleep. my daughter was born to its notes six and a half years ago. and now, while the kids are supposedly asleep, i listen for the silence.

i had learned that music was organized sound and silence in time, and i had learned this from the greatest music teacher in the nation, way out in the country, spending his gift on the rough and tumble youth at the tail end of a golden era. the silence is as important as the sound. without it, we've just got noise.

these are noisy days.

the weeks between this and the last post are plenty and strong. dates and times and faces and rhymes have taken to the current and blurred right on by. jada had a baby. so did the nanny. the postman ran a slow half. i made the hole shot in a masters race. my father in law breathes his last days. my mother in law tries to remember. i haven't kissed in years.

if you want to remember what it was like the first time, try forgetting the last time. if it's something that gnaws at your consciousness, if you just want to figure it out so you can let it go, if you can't help but keep it on the tip of your raw, stinging tongue, spit or swallow and then move. it's in the silence. that has to be found first.