Squandered Epiphanies

*

Sunday was one of those rare days when I found myself actually awake well before I needed to be, with more than enough time to get ready for church without rushing about.

Of course, and as these things go, I squandered every damned last extra minute, and found myself still bolting through the door yelping, “wait for me Jesus!” when I realized that I was already supposed to be where I was just now heading off to.

In fact, I was in such a rush that it wasn’t until I was seated, moistened by both a late summer sweat and just a hint of former Roman Catholic guilt – and exactly at the point in the mass wherein we pray for the recently deceased – that I realized something:

Someone wasn’t here today.

Someone who had been here – to my knowledge at any rate – just yesterday.

Not “here” as in the church itself, but “here” as in at all; as the day prior I had gotten word that Someone dear to me and dearer to others still had finally come upon their great reward. It was a Someone that I loved.

Someone that I loved.

And how odd it is that only in their death was I finally able to appreciate that feeling for what it was. Understand it for what it is. Acknowledge it to be true.

Someone I love and now miss is not here today. No, not ever more.

Wish-you-were-here_grande

And, as these epiphanies tend to cluster ‘round a recently illuminated mind, it then also occurred to me in very short order that this sort of thing happens every single day, a million times over. Every single day there are others – many, many others – who simply are no longer here today. Gone. Dust. Legacy. No longer are they a curse nor a blessing . No more are they anything, but what they gave unto us, and what we gave unto them in return.

And as such I wondered, why can’t we be better?

Why can’t we stop hating, judging and fearing?

Why can’t we forgive, and mend, and build anew?

Why can’t we be, and let be?

Why can’t we – well, as one of the greatest rock songs of all time once said – be friends?

Why can’t we let go of the trash in our heads, and use that freed space for great thoughts, and inner peace, and outer love, and for the possible and final realization of the full potential of what those wonderful grey bumpy things bouncing about inside of our heads promise to be when We grow up?

Whenever the fuck we decide to finally grow up…

On a microcosmic level example I suppose, and in an effort to shed even more ever-present R.C. guilt, why can’t I – even though the pain caused by their transgressions was deep, overwhelming, intentional and still being doled out in sporadic venomous rations – forgive my ex-hole enough as to finally stop calling them that? And why can’t I take that forgiveness and apply it to the incorrectly (and sometimes justified) assigned failings of my own good self as well?

For fucks sake, I watched both my dad die miserably years ago, and the ex-hole choosing to live in a similar fashion today. How many examples does it take for me – for any of us, really – to finally learn The Lesson?

Someone I love and will now miss is not here today. No, not ever more. And I never even got to say goodbye. I never did so because in my daily blindness, I never once thought that the time was nigh.

And yeah, I did use the word “nigh” just now so that you’d think that I was some sort of educated writer, but in honesty, I would give up the impression desired if I was granted just one more kiss on Rae’s cheek before she bolted off to her Yahweh.

Honestly, I would.

*

Stumbling back into my office from a quick run to her funeral service today, I was met by a private note amongst friends that two of the very best I have ever been blessed with were themselves blessed just hours before with the birth of their long-awaited twins; twins that I will forever more now call only Luke and Leia, by the way – regardless of their parents chagrin.

In reading the note, especially on the heels of the service I had just attended – one wherein a life was celebrated instead of a death being cursed – I had one last epiphany and saw that Tomorrow was once again here. Another chance to learn, grow, share, enjoy, and maybe – just maybe – build upon the efforts of those who lived yesterday to become just a little bit better tomorrow. For, just as someone isn’t here today, there are two more who have just arrived. “And the ripples of the good will continue to spread in wider circles than the ripples of the selfish, for they travel across much deeper waters.

Sounds good, right?

Someone I love and will now miss is not here today. I would like to be of a mind, and live in a world, where that is a celebration instead of a curse. A world where goodbyes are heard only through all the hellos also being made. A world to come, if We make it so. A world to come, if we decide to be friends.

Dedicated to Rachel Cohen.

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Today…

hawaiiIt’s Easter. And everything starts anew today. Though in actuality, it’s tomorrow when that will occur.

But that’s another story.

The day is belligerently bucking the usual tradition of Buffalo NY cold and wet, for that of sun, warmth, and cloud-free endless blue sky. I am enjoying this change of pace with a change of pace as I mosey along for a Sunday stroll, wrestling into knotted position around my waist, the sweater that I initially felt I needed – until the very moment that I was too far away from my starting point, as to actually return it.

As I cinch the sleeves into the hug they’ll embrace me with throughout the duration of my walk, I first spy them. A family. Another multi-generational, happy and utterly complete family. Gayly smiling and playing all on the front yard. Almost as if to say, “yeah, where’s yours?” Hell, they might have even been carrying around their own personal white picket fences, as they were so perfectly Rockwellian in their nature. And as I passed them, I once again felt plainly the epiphany that I have felt so many times over these past several months: Your father is dead. Your marriage, equally so. One due to his inability to quit smoking, and the other, due to her inability to ever stop looking for the next “big thing.” Combined both with your inability to ever give either a good enough reason to just stop.

Stupid people making stupid choices. Stupid choices that hurt others, and stupid choices that hurt you. Stupid choices that you couldn’t altar. Stupid choices that you at times even emulated, because you yourself are stupid.

Withholding a preemptive mood-ruining hiss, I passed the family without harming them via the daggers being launched at that moment from my jealous eyes. But as I did, these thoughts came to mind:

• I can’t bring dad back. But I can learn from him, both in his victories and in his defeats. So that his life will live on in me, and in the lives of my children, and – should trees prove to drop apples once-to multiple times more – in the lives of my grandchildren and great as well.

• I don’t want to bring the marriage back. No, not anymore. For I have already learned that I will know love one day, and it will be a love that is bound not by a contract, but by Love itself. It will be a love that ends, if it ends, not because of foreign men with interesting names, nor because of my fear of me standing up for me.

As I continued on my walk, I saw another family. Again, multi-generational, again happy. But this time I thought: maybe both members of that couple aren’t the birth parents. Maybe their love was a love first realized only after failed earlier attempts elsewhere. Maybe the people before me were happy in earnest, only because they had known times when happy was woefully absent before. Maybe these people decided upon celebrating Easter long before Easter came. And maybe – just maybe – my life can be like that as well.

It’s Easter. And though in actuality, it’s tomorrow when this will occur, everything starts anew Today.

•••

Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven

I apologize for posting twice in a row so closely together, but you see, a couple of things occurred.

First off, I had to get myself out of the fumes left behind by my last piece as quickly as possible, so as to let the past be past. Secondly, the Friday Fictioneers prompt this week almost screamed at me an immediate conversation, held between two mates (and quite possibly dolt-savants.) A conversation that – after a ton of whittling to get it down to the 100 word limit – follows…

copyright – Adam Ickes

copyright – Adam Ickes

Right. The arrow’s quite obviously pointin’ upward, now i’nt it?

But whatuvit?

Weellll, obviously it implies we’re goin’ to ‘eaven.

Bah! Don’t mean that a’tall. The bloomin’ thing IS red after all, i’nt it?

And whatuvit?

Well, i’n’t red the color of ‘ell itself?

Not like they’ve got that copyrighted or anything.

Don’t know ’bout that. I’m still not goin’.

Then what? You’re gonna stay ‘ere? Be a ghost?

Yeah. Reckon if this WAS really ‘eaven’s gate, it’d be otherwise constructed anyhow.

How’s that?

Way I figure, He’d make it more accessible-like, seein’ as He KNOWS I’m deathly scared of bridges regardless

•••

I hope you enjoyed – and today’s song is “Reader’s Choice!”

Choose from either Loretta…

Or from Love…

Asleep

Admittedly, I do seem to be on somewhat of a depressive story line arch lately with these Trifectca Writing Challenges. I promise it’s not nearly as bad as it may seem.

Now, with the prompt being the 5 words that follow the 33, here’s this week’s effort…

Picture11-1

The pain ebbs, a fat cat dozing after She’s realized her fill.

Breath seeps.

Light pales.

Wait…

It’s over?

“Ah, but wasn’t it you who said you wanted to Sleep?”

Maybe…

Yes.

But,

That wasn’t what I meant.

•••

654 Words Plus A (n excessively long run-on) Sentence

So when Professor SAM – on behalf of Master Class 2014, and via Kelly Garriott Waite – gave us the longest written prompt in the vast history of written prompts EVER (thanks A LOT, Kelly!), I of course had to rise to the challenge.

I hope I didn’t screw it up too badly.

storch-badge

Dad was dead.

That much could not be denied.

I’d seen him breathe his last. Hell, I’d damned near given him permission to do so. He would never have left mom otherwise, and she was very much in need of his finally finding some sort of peace, some sort of solace.

Mom was still around of course, but only by mere inches.

The other woman – the one I thought I would love forever – offered some token assistance, but her crocodile tears could hardly hide the gleam of the “Steve McQueen-esque” boys she was not-so secretly dreaming of, while feigning concern for me and mine. She escaped at her first self-serving opportunity, and left me alone with a grieving widow, one going through an unwanted separation 45 years in the making, and a Life for us all that would simply never be quite the same again.

I suppose you could say that, as far as self-serving opportunities go, she got out just in the nick of time.

240591.bird-ostrich-photogaphy-head-in-sand-s.txt

I was born in a Roman Catholic house. And in these regards, the capital “R” and “C” couldn’t have been more prominent had Jesus Himself come down from a puff of blue sky, and utilized His very Own personal holy typewriter in creating the cards that they carried continually throughout their lives. Cards so well used that the fictional corners of each would’ve been much more like dog-eared worry stones than they would mere 90 degree angles. Personally, I struggled for years against their R.C. ideology, all while still hoping to believe that J.C. was quite alright with me. They in turn struggled against understanding how I could ever sit with “fags and junkies,” when J.C. Himself wouldn’t have been caught dead – well, resurrected, I suppose – with that sort of crew. Whores and tax collectors, sure, but even He had His standards, they presumed.

Mom was losing her grip fast, but not so much as to not realize that when she went, her “faggot-loving” son could very well tank the whole deal of a promised familial salvation. As such, she made me promise to believe as she. And, as I figured that she was the only woman to ever truly love me, I lied and said I did. This resulted in more than one of my friends – long after dad’s service had been performed – thinking to themselves, “He was the only one left to fulfill that contract and try to justify the labor and the harshness and the mistakes of his parents’ lives, and that responsibility was so clearly his, was so great an obligation, that it made unimportant and unreal the sight of the motley collection of pall-bearers staggering under the weight of his father’s body, and the back door of the hearse closing quietly upon the casket and the flowers.”

What can I say? My friends have always been fans of run-on, overly literate smart ass commentary.

In short, what they were thinking was that I was the douche who had to make amends. Amends to a God that I didn’t truly understand in my parents light – amends to a religion that never did do anything but strangle their love towards their fellow-men. Fellow-men deserving of love, though they be of a different color, or sexual orientation, or political bent. You see, my folks loved J.C. more than they ever loved His people. And much like the woman I thought I would love forever felt towards me, when push came to shove, they loved themselves even more than they did He.

So the hearse doors closed, and the body was buried. But the belief was not. Though I could’ve swore that I caught a glimpse of J.C.’s back, as He walked delicately across the partially frozen cemetery grounds, just like all the others, slowly away from me.

And I stood. Alone. One arm empty, as the self-server had by then run off with the first of many Steve McQueen’s to come. And the other arm full – though still empty – struggling to hold the woman who had once bore me, the only woman to ever truly love me, the woman hanging on now, only by mere inches.

And through it all, I just kept staring at my arms, both empty and full, while thinking to myself…

I had seen him breathe his last – I’m sure I had.

Dad was dead.

That much could not be denied.

•••

691 Words Plus A Sentence.

I’m uncertain as to whether I am understanding, and as a result, responding accordingly to a recent Daily Post prompt. But in all honesty, they never pay me any attention over there anyway. So I suppose that it doesn’t matter if I’m spot-on, or off-target to the point of looking much like Mr. Magoo shooting a potato gun backwards into a wind tunnel.

Yeah, you’re trying to envision that now, aren’t ya?

I DO however, know that I’m well within stated regs in regards to Master Class 2013, and I’m also certain that the Professor pays attention to me over there. So much so, that it behooves me to regularly ensure that all my “i’s” are crossed and my “t’s” dotted, before publishing.

Having now done so, following is my response to both prompts. As always, please play along, and also as always, I hope you enjoy!

Copyright: Robert Hunt

Copyright: Robert Hunt

It was only a duck pond, at the back of the farm.

But it hadn’t always been that way, no. It had started its life as a crater; blown out of the earth from a shell that had hoped to slam itself noisily into the building that actually stood several hundred feet from where the missile eventually took root instead.

As these things go, the crater was quickly made useful as it filled with soldiers, huddled together in a cold, wet, quivering mass; all in the hopes that their proximity to each other, combined with their quasi-concealment, would somehow prevent them from taking similar shots – from much smaller, yet equally deadly shells – to their own bodies.

As the scout furtively raised his head over the brim to see if they were alone, the round that blasted arrogantly through his skull quickly provided both him and his comrades with dramatic evidence of the answer that they were hoping to not receive.

Leonard wanted to vomit as Scout’s blood and brain sprayed across the pit, covering the other soldiers faces and mouths. But he found that he’d no more substance to expel, and even less energy required to carry through with the exercise anyway. In fact, he’d done so so often, that Leonard could honestly not see where he should ever need to vomit another day in his entire life, once he got out of this unholy mess.

If he got out of this unholy mess.

“Martin…”

“Yes Lenny?”

“Do you… well, do you ever wish that it was over?”

“The war? Of course I do, you dolt!”

“No, no. Not the war, Marty. Everything.”

“Everything? You mean like, the world, the universe, time itself? What are you doing mate? Going all philosophical, at the very moment Jerry is trying to blow our fool heads off?”

“Well, we might not have any other time to do so, you see…”

“Blimey! We’re trying to get our arses out of here! Not start a debate with the High Lord Above and His Boy over the meaning of life. The ‘meaning of life…’ there is no meaning to it at all, if we can’t get out of here with it still in our pockets!”

Leonard knew that his chum was right of course, and as the clamor of explosions protested closely overhead, he realized once again how true it was, that the next serving of splashing brains could be his to provide, if he found himself unable to get his head out of the damned clouds.

But still. How he wished that it were all over. Over and done, and everyone assigned to their new and eternal dwelling places. Of course, there was still that certain fear that his would be the dwelling place less desired. But war had an odd way of making a man fear hell less than heaven, as it is common to fear the thing you don’t know, over the thing you do.

Leonard’s reflective fog dissipated abruptly as Marty roughly jostled his shoulder while shouting, “Oi! Time to go laddy!”

Taking a fools gamble on a sudden lull in the general chaos, the band of men rose haphazardly from the shell-blown trench, only to be met by an unexpected and fresh swarm of projectiles, buzzing through them in a newly formed river of red, like a metallic wind hell-bent on creating of itself a tornado. Leonard wasn’t the first to fall, but by the time the round that would pierce him did, he’d seen enough of his comrades crumble as to make him aware that this very day he could well be seeing the High Lord Above’s Boy in person. As he lay in the bottom of the crater, his blood pumping ever efficiently through the two new gaping holes torn through his neck, he murkily realized that he had received his wish after all. If nothing else, it really was all over now. Just the Reckoning left, he reckoned, and then he could call it a day forever more. As the blood continued to burble out, he inexplicably smelt the pungent odor of pond water permeating his dying nostrils, while swearing to himself that he could hear the faint murmur of approaching ducks…

•••

From Master Class: “Tara of Thin Spiral Notebook… was asked (some time ago, honestly) to choose the assignment for the next class. I gave her no specific instructions, and she chose…” from Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.”

Somewhere.

One walks free. Another runs – either from or to. And a third is locked rigid, never to walk nor run from where they are, right now, forever.

Here are the 100 Friday Fictioneer words that came to mind when the picture was fully taken in; a draft originally slated for my other, “woe is me,” blog that never saw the light of day. Not until now.

I hope you enjoy.

copyright-renee-heath

Copyright -Renee Heath

the thing that ran away, the thing that you don’t want anymore, the thing that is gone…

is it ok to still weep at its passing?

the thing that is to be, the thing that you desire so badly, the thing that is *just* ‘round that corner…

is it ok to sob over its delay in coming?

the thing that is, the thing that weighs heavily upon you right now, the thing that relentlessly encases you…

is it ok to lament that it’s neither the former nor the latter, but rather just a painful, albeit hoped-filled, bridge between the two?

•••

A special thanks to my dear sister and friend Renee for this weeks photo prompt. I’d tell you to go and check out her site, but I am certain that all of you already do…