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.

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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.

A Mother’s Love…

Troy,

I read your “As Long As I’m Singing.” It really moved me (as all your writings do.) You truly have a God-given gift to share your thoughts in a mind-provoking way!

I hope you continue to write and share with the world. It would be nice if you could get your works published. Please don’t pooh-pooh the idea. Give it lots of thought.

Love & very proud,

Mom

•••

I’ve been delinquent with this blog as of late. And I apologize. I’ve been delinquent even with responding to comments – a much larger sin than the first, if you ask me – and I am sorry for that as well.

My life – after a long dry spell of being emotionally bullied, financially destitute, and legalistically put-upon, is at long last coming ’round that damned dark corner and back into the Light. I need to start sharing that, and I need to do so here.

Sans pooh-poohing, of course.

Thanks for your patience. I love you all more than you maybe know,

t

All The Sad Men, revisited

His name was Daniel, but he answered to Dan. As in when his mom called out, “Just tell the man ‘no,’ Dan.” 

From my register I was asking him the same questions (those designed as blatant pleas to grab even more of your cash before you leave the store) that I ask everyone. I was doing so, both because we’re supposed to, and also because I didn’t want Dan to think that I saw him any differently than those customers that preceded him. Even though I did.

In fact, my interaction with him reminded me of a post that I wrote a little over two years ago now. A post remembered as I asked God to bless Dan and his family while they happily left my store. A post that I’d like to revisit here today…

She sat there, munching somewhat sloppily on her burger, occasionally spitting forth bits as she yelped out to no one in particular. And I sat there and stared. I felt bad that I was staring, but I wasn’t doing so out of rudeness. No, it was more like envy than superiority that I felt. It was more a case of “what if” than of “thank God not.” And here’s why.

Whenever I experience one living with severe special needs, I become somewhat immersed in what I imagine is their imprisonment. Their imprisonment in a world who wishes that they just weren’t around. Or at least, not quite so visible. But at the same time, I find myself jealous of their freedom. Freedom from this same world that ofttimes judges them in ignorance.

A world, mind you, that can be far more handicapped than they will ever be. A world filled with folk who care more about little dollar bills than they do each other. A world that places much more emphasis on the cut of the cloth than on the content of the character. In my very humble opinion, this world isn’t nearly good enough for people such as her. This world is a damned and empty shadow of what it could be, and I feel that we’ve all worked pretty hard at making it so. Or at the very least, sat back and simply allowed it happen.

So what of the poor girl-woman that suffered under my “not intentionally rude, but extremely rude nonetheless” stares? Why do I sometimes feel jealousy towards people like her? How could I be so crass as to make mention of the concept? Well, imprisoned as she appears, I would love to see the world through her eyes, just once. Just once to see if what I think to be true, actually is.

You see, I’m of the belief that her vision is much clearer than mine. I’m quite sure, in fact, that mine is muddled beyond the point of ever recognizing the Truth. A Truth that I believe she most likely sees quite naturally, and on a daily basis. A Truth that she may even long to share with the rest of us, if only we weren’t so ignorant to her language.

She sees the Truth, and I see only what I choose to see. And yet she is locked in the wheeled chair, while I roam free…

I suppose I should step back for a moment and let you know where my meanderings on the topic come from. I’ve no personal experience in my own family, but when I was young, I was forced (yes, I meant to say that – or at least did at the time) to volunteer at an institution that cared for people like my incidental lunch companion.

As my parents felt it was important to teach us about stewardship, part of their education to this end included a trip to a local long-term care center that managed the severest cases. As a young and unappreciative pisser, I recall hating the place when we first arrived. The stark white walls did nothing to conceal the smell of piss and medicine. The painted-over drop ceiling served more to rebound, than muffle the occasional non-sensical shout or yelp. The halls were clogged with wheel chairs, and in each sat an alien life form. A being so far removed from my knowledge of the world as to be almost comical, if only they didn’t frighten me so.

Being young, and being a pisser, and being there against my will, I decided that hatred would be my best response. Hatred towards these creatures. Hatred towards their needing my assistance. Hatred towards their being around at all. I did as I was told, but only just. How dare they make me? How dare they be here? How dare they exist?

And then, as happens so often in life, something happened. And that something was this. One of them began wailing. And not just a whimper or a sob, but an honest-to-Jesus moon-raising moan. One that would make you think that they were seeing Satan’s ghost himself. And for all I know, maybe they were. The wailing only made me feel uncomfortable. But to another, it provoked a different reaction. I can’t recall if it was an employee, a volunteer, a random passer-by, or maybe even an angel in disguise. But I do remember watching one soul walk deliberately up to the young wheelchair-entrapped wailer, and hugging them. Simply hugging them. The wails continued, but so did the hug. And eventually both were quietly put to rest. Both the hugger and the wailer were at peace. I stood there dumbfounded as the blinds were torn from my eyes, my little stupid pisser attitude backhanded to the floor.

I could physically feel myself growing up a little bit that day. One of the first of many times I’ve had the experience.

A little while later I was pushing along one of the more talkative residents who would speak and speak and speak, and occasionally even say something. At one point he looked me dead in the eye, and with no prompt or reason whatsoever, told me very lucidly the exact day it would start snowing and the exact amount – in quarter inches – that we would receive. I’m sure you already know by now that I’m going to tell you that he was exactly correct on both counts. EXACTLY. Dumb luck? Could’ve been. Dumb luck does seem to have a way of getting around. But I’d like to think that there’s something more to it.

In fact, I’d like to think that maybe – just maybe – there are certain people who are so spiritually in-tuned, so close to God, that they’re incapable of making themselves small enough as to deal with our little shambles of a “reality.” They’re exalted over the angels, but trapped on this mortal plain, and they simply can’t function at such a junior level. They need our help in this world, but only because we’ll need theirs in the next. We just don’t know it yet. They’re not “retarded,” we are. They are of a higher prominence, yet we sit smugly by and laugh at their superiority.

I know. It sounds a little too naive to be true. And that, in part, is why I wanted to jump into my lunch mate’s head. Just once I really would like to see if I’m right. Or if I’m an idiot. Or both. It’ll never happen of course. For one thing, we don’t live in a Disney movie, and switches of this nature just aren’t possible. But even if they were, I don’t feel that the swap would be a very fair one. For her, that is.

•••

I feel it’s important to note, I’m using this song today not in jest, but in respect.  I too, long for the day when all of us “sane men” are locked away, and we allow the “mad” ones to finally be free.

Happy Easter, kids.

 

A New Face

k~ continually inspires me. As such, much like she has successfully done previously, with this week’s Inspiration Monday challenge, I attempted to use not one, but all five prompts. I hope it worked, and I hoped you like.

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“You’ve gone and fouled up the whole scheme of things, now haven’t you? Why don’t you just wipe that stupid grin off your face?”

The words never left her mouth of course, but through her bristled stare and hardened oxblood-red lips, you could tell that that was exactly what she meant to say, the very moment that she worked up the courage to actually do so. Sadly, it was a courage she’d been “working up” for most of her adult life, but to no avail.

“That is OBVIOUSLY the blouse isle,” she continued to silently scream through the thrift store where she stood at a safe distance, “and YOU are OBVIOUSLY in no need of any of those!”

Again, her lack of courage being an instance where cowardice in one, is a blessing to the many around them.

Having difficulty swallowing her disdain, she cringed as she observed blouses – colorful, flouncy and free – being held up first in surprised joy, and then to the breast, checking to see if they would fit.

“And being so flagrant about it! The nerve! You should only be the way the good Lord made you – no use in being any different! Why, it would be a sin – it would be like going up the drain!”

Her face continued to harden, making of it almost a new face, as she stared only through the windshield of her ignorance and fear while murmuring finally aloud through clenched and ground-down teeth, “I can only imagine the shame your poor family must feel…”

Her words were cut short by the appearance of the man who saddled up next to the teenage blouse browser. Shaking his head slowly in sad disapproval, he pleaded, “son, we’ve talked about this. You can NOT buy that blouse. Dude, you know that that shade of green makes you look totally dead! Besides, I found a pair of cool pumps you might wanna buy instead.”

The boy replied with a quick and excited “awesome!” as he hurriedly placed the blouse back onto the rack.

And in that action was when he finally noticed her, their eyes locking for a brief moment. He smiled naturally, and before he broke contact, placed both thumbs high up into the air as he mouthed the earnest and complimentary compliment of, “I LOVE your hat!”

In that moment, and while still only a shade of a glimmer of a possibility of an idea to her yet-hardened soul, she could have almost sworn that as he turned away she saw in him a different face. A face somehow new.

•••

For today’s post, I was going to end with another song altogether, before stumbling upon the choice below. I think this says exactly what I was hoping to say, only far more eloquently. Mainly – in the (new) face of hate, Love is our only defense…

This is NOT a President’s Day Post

In fact, it’s not really a post at all actually, but rather, a recent facebook status update I made. One that I feel should be thrown into a larger web of the social media. One that, with a singular simple addition of a word (and more than a whole slew of singular edits), I feel will work pretty danged well for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge:

FUNK (noun)  3 :  SLUMP  <an economic funk>  <the team went into a funk>

Picture11-1While struggling to swallow my latest fit of depression tonight at work, I met a mom who had really nice kids, and pretty sweet tats. As these things transpire, in conversation I found out that each tattoo represented one of the children. As she explained each in turn, I learned that the child whom I thought the most mature (a birthday boy JUST turned twelve who simply HAD to have Minecraft merch to celebrate properly), was born with autism. But it was his sister who stole my heart and gave me hope, in that at no more than 10 years old, she knew that she was transgender – a knowledge held since six years of age according to the mom. To date, she is the youngest transgender person I believe I have ever met.

While mom shared with me that her daughter was treated very poorly by her classmates and the school, the girl that stood before me was still a happy, well-adjusted kid. One who knew and was comfortable with whom she was, and (from my vantage point) well-loved by her family. Including her baby brother, whom she could not carry correctly, even had he come with instructions sewn in. Seeing them all (four kids and one mom with pretty sweet tats) woke me up out of my self-imposed pity-party over my current (and hopefully temporary) funk, to the idea that there are still a LOT of really good people out there. People who love without condition. People who would rather build each other up, then tear each other down. People who can, willingly I would assume, love something much bigger than only themselves.

I’m glad that that mom, her kids, and her sweet tats came in tonight. I’m glad to know that they exist out there. This world is five people better off as a result.

•••

Admittedly, the song chosen today has absolutely not one singular thing to do with the post, but honestly, how many challenges come along that provide you with the *perfect* cue to end with this gem?