The last unread letter I’ll ever write you

I’ve struggled with this one. Both in committing the words to paper, and in pondering whether to even publish them at all. I only decided on the latter recently because I will this Sunday be one year past signing papers that free-fall gave me back to myself, at a very heavy cost.

This note serves both as a capstone to my final stage of grief as well as a promise to those of you going down a similar road, that it does end. And you can in fact not only survive, but grow from the experience.

As always, I hope you enjoy…

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To date I’ve learned to let go of:

Your allegiance towards your tribe over me,
And my understanding of what family truly is.

Your manipulation of my life towards meeting your individual goals,
And my complicity in this to ensure your happiness.

Your disregard over my own goals while doing so,
And my disregard of same.

Your infidelity,
And my courting temptation also to fill the hole you left.

Your persistent denial of,
And my surrogate guilt over, your perfidy.

Your continued attempts manipulating me and the circumstances, well after you’d no more use for either,
And my sense of injustice over witnessing it.

Your deception in purging me from your family and our friends once you’d wrung me dry,
And my understanding of what allegiance truly is.

Your eventual success in doing just that, even with my very own children.
All in the same fashion, one at time, over the course of time. Taking your time. Much like a form of water torture wherein the victim loves the water more than oneself.

Your every effort in having me erase my own life,
And my willingness to do so.

Your total and complete denial over all of the above,
And your narcissistic lack of regard for me throughout.

You early on joked that we’d never divorce, as you would kill me first instead. I now realize just how serious your intent was on the latter part of this jest.

I didn’t die though.

I’m still here.

And since I am, the last thing I need to let go of, the very last item I will lose through this useless and hate-filled rape of my proffered love and trust, is my anger towards you.

As such, and whilst I’ll most likely need to remind myself manifold times over the next few months (years, decades, whatever), you are forgiven.

You are forgiven.

Find peace. Get well. Treat your next love like they matter. Treat your next love better.

Or don’t. Ultimately it’s your choice alone, for it is no longer any concern of mine.

I’m still here.

And here, me I’ve freed.

An Errant & Somewhat Ashen Thought

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Sitting at the red light one frigid early Ash Wednesday evening, my preoccupied between-jobs mind followed my drifted gaze.

I observed them as they exited the nearby church, in twos and threes, mothers and children both, freshly ashen-faced. (And just where are the fathers anyway? Do we ALL get tossed aside unneeded after our seed and wallets have been harvested?) While they trudged through the cold air determinedly to get back into their colder still cars, I noticed something.

Of these husbandless tribes, some of the children seemed typically miserable, exact-mirroring the look of the maternal unit they were trying diligently to distance themselves from, lagging behind. And then there were others who were atypically fully engaged with their mothers, animatedly eye-to-eye communicating while staying close, better to prove their “whatever their point is anyways,” as clearly and lovingly as possible.

It’s probably no surprise that I found myself jealous of this latter group, what with me being a recently reluctant member of the tossed aside dad club too. But I also noted envy towards the former group as well; similar to the way I imagine a legless man must feel about someone with a limp. “’Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all,’ is a statement clearly concocted by one who has never actually had to test the theory,” I clucked to myself in defiance to that particular cult of thought.

The light greened, and I drove off to career pt. 2 of 4, forgetting soon thereafter about the experience till just now. Life does move on after all, whether you be limbed, amputated, or merely limping along.

Joseph’s choice*

Joseph was given a dream.

That’s all. Just a dream.

Mary had a bloomin’ angel bust into her house to give her the news. But all Joseph received, was what could have easily been attributed to one too many glasses of smashed up fermented grapes before beddie-bye.

Joseph had to live his whole life wondering if that dream was a truth or not. If his “Son” was the result of the Lord’s plan, or just one ill-advised and possibly regretted interlude.

Mary has been honored ever since.

Given top billing right next to her Boy, in fact. Prayed to no less, by many who seem to think that J.C. made this an option, somewhere along the line within his three years of tutorials. It seems odd, given what little faith was needed on her part, especially considering the fact that she knew she hadn’t done anything, and again, there was that bloomin’ angel, standing smack-dab in the middle of her living room.

And Joseph?

Well, poor old Joe wasn’t even remembered by the Gospel writers. Nope, right after his part was played, he was unceremoniously escorted off the stage, never to be heard from again. We can assume he died – most do seem to go that way. But if he did while Jesus still breathed, we never even get to hear about his “Son’s” reaction. And if Jesus was the first to go, then Joseph’s tears and anguish were never written down for posterity.

Again, Mary rocks it within the gospels, right through to the bitter end. But Joseph is left forgotten. Ignored. And maybe even with his final breath, still wondering if the angel’s message was really just after all, only a stupid dream.

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I’ve always had an affinity for Joseph.

Not only because we share the joy of fatherhood, but because I too have quite often felt – incorrectly or not – ignored in the whole scheme of things. Forgotten. Yes, even by J.C. As a result, for many years I’ve waved the Joseph flag to anyone who asked, simply because I felt that he needed to be defended.

I was wrong in thinking that of course. Joseph needs no more defending than his “Son” does. Joseph needs no adulation, similar to that being provided Mary by her cult, either. No, I believe that Joseph is just all right with the way things went.

Joseph – whether he truly believed the dream or not – chose to tell the angel that appeared in it that he would. Joseph – even if he was in the final analysis, history’s most gullible man – voluntarily put his life at risk then, and several times afterwards. All while defending a wife and a “Son” who weren’t truly his, just for his chosen belief, which truly was.

Again, we’ve no idea what sort of lessons Joseph imparted upon Jesus, nor how much of the Son of Man’s personality was weaned from the man who chose to believe in the Son enough, as to sacrifice his life for Mary and He. But when my children offer me the mantle of “Best Dad In The World,” I’m quick to remind them that – while I am honored – I feel that it’s actually Joseph who deserves that title. The man who gave all for his charges, and was then all but forgotten by the very ones who benefitted most from his sacrifice of ensuring that the “Son” (possibly of just a man), could live long enough to become the Son of Man.

Joseph was given a dream.

And he chose to believe that dream – to believe in those who were part of it. That’s a sort of faith that is stronger than reason, and that’s the sort of man I currently struggle to be. For my sons, my daughter, my friends, and for me.

Merry Christmas.

* My gratitude and appreciation to Rev. Ellen Brauza, who’s insight and wisdom served as the inspiration that finally allowed me to put down into somewhat coherent sentences the above trail of thought.

400

I hesitated only briefly over the “Publish” button before deftly clicking it, thus bringing another piece of my brain to life on the screen, for tens of tens of people to read and enjoy. I’ve done something similar about three times a week for a little over two years now. But this time was different. This time I was met with a jaunty little note that informed me that I had just published my 399th post. Now I’m not terribly good at math, but by my reckoning, that meant that my very next post was going to be the big 4-O-O.

As such, I decided to do something I promised you all I would do quite some time ago. Something I promised myself I would do as well. And here it is. The 100 Word Song originally written for “Car Jamming,” now fleshed out, and ready to become (hopefully), a real-life honest-to goshicles short story.

Ready?

Here goes:

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He had realized early on that any signs of kindness on their part, would be merely accidental. Or worse yet, intentionally cruel, under the guise of feigned affection

Wondering why they were so hellbent on being constantly brutal and mean, he carefully dabbed a stubborn tear away, smudging a bit of smoky eyeliner in the process. Rifling the tissue to the desktop, he muttered “Dammit!” while inspecting the mishap.

It wasn’t enough that he was abused for being true to himself, he now looked like a weepy rank amateur to boot. He knew, or understood at least, why they did what they did. He could see it himself sometimes, when he looked into the mirror. He would hear his mother’s final words, as she had hung up the phone on him for the very last time, “girls don’t shave their faces, and boys DON’T wear make-up. Grow out of it, Gabe!”

He was a child, and her words had seared right through him, as intended. It had hurt. And she knew exactly how to do that. She’d been practicing it for years, in fact. Some would say that she was the first bully he had ever had to contend with. It had hurt, but it was a hurt he eventually used to make himself stronger. Or so he hoped. It was a hurt, but just the first of many. And if he could survive that from the woman who birthed him, then what in the hell sort of power could some punk-ass borderline-barbaric classmates have over him?

He felt his fist hit the desk, much more than he heard it. Another “dammit!,” escaped his lips as he realized that that was going to bruise for sure. Quietly laughing despite the pain, he found himself thanking the angels that at least he wasn’t a hand model. Cradling the throbbing hand gently in the other, he took an unexpected moment to look at his natural nails. Finding them gnarled and bitten, he saw a deeper truth to that idea, based on how chewed upon they were, and he quickly began applying his Lee press-ons to cover his insecurity.

“Gabe? Err… Gabriella?” His father called out, concerned over the audible furniture abuse taking place. “Are you OK, honey?” Gabe smiled again. His father was never certain as to which name to call him, having not quite figured out the nuances of the scene just yet. That, and he always felt the need to yell through the apartment as if it were some sort of multi-winged expansive mansion, instead of the compact yet comfortable two-bedroom flat that it actually was.

Never one for needing a lot of space anyway, Gabe allowed his dad this second tendency without complaint, as he knew it was only done to accommodate for his feelings of inadequacy over not being able to provide “properly” for his son.  Gabe truly didn’t mind, and understood the strain of a man who was told by his wife that of all he was, and after all those years, the only thing of worth was his wallet and every penny she could bleed from it. And she had bled both it and he dry, even though there wasn’t that much blood to give in the first. As he had done during their marriage, throughout it all he simply kept his mouth shut and soldiered on, in the hopes that he wouldn’t inadvertently say something that would one day prevent Gabe from having a somewhat normal relationship with her. Gabe was certain that his dad’s efforts, on this front at least, were to be in vain.

Instead of voicing all this however, all that Gabe shouted back was, “I’m OK dad, I just banged my knee on the vanity!”

“Oh, alright then.” His dad responded somewhat skeptically, “Let me know if you need any ice!”

His dad may have been weak-willed, but was too smart as well. Gabe knew he that couldn’t keep this on-campus bullying hidden forever. Couldn’t keep the “strong silent treatment” up for too much longer. But his dad had enough to worry about already as it was, and he didn’t want to add to that burden. Still, he couldn’t not be true to himself either.

Sighing, he looked in the mirror again, coming to firm grips with the fact that the “smudge-proof” style of eyeliner was only different from the other brands in that it cost a hell of a lot more. He’d never make that mistake again. And he realized he’d have to come to grips with those borderline-barbarian boys as well.

He knew one thing. Lauren Bacall wouldn’t have ever let them get her down. And Nana had always said that it was this iconic star that he resembled most, when he was dressed “that way.”  Maybe it was high-time that he started acting like her as well.

Delicately clicking his freshly painted plastic nails against the vanity, to the beat of his favorite Waterboys tune that happened to be playing softly in the background, he sang along as he looked into the mirror one more time, and he smiled.

Briefly… The My Three Adoration edition

Simon’s 16 years-old.

My first-born, when he was first born, lay there on the heating-table as the nurse looked to me, saying “He’s yours – you can touch him.” I recently introduced him to the (somewhat painful) world of job applications, though it feels as he was only born a few years ago.

Simon has the power.

Hannah’s 15, and Hell on Wheels. Hell. On. Wheels. A strong young woman who desires popularity, while understanding the power of true friendship. She’s gonna dazzle the world with her persona, a trait she gets – oddly enough – from me.

Hannah has the power.

Ian’s 13. “Last but not least” never had a truer ring, and to me, he’s a Heart Of Gold on two legs – two very short legs. He keeps us four in check, making damned sure that I’m always on top of my game.

Ian has the power.

I named them with the following criteria – each should have names rooted in biblical history (“Ian” being Gaelic for “John”), and none should have names that could be altered in common conversation.

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All three bless my Life.

All three lift me.

All three have the power.

And all three,

Will someday use it.

•••

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Three (3) notes concerning this post:

1) This week’s 100 Word Song prompt was chosen by Linda Roy (who has the bestest business cards ever!) – “People Have Power” by Patti Smith.

2) Losing all punk rock cred, I never actually was that much of a Patti Smith fan. I mean, I caught “Because The Night,” and thought to m’self, “Well, that was rather nice,” before moving on. Hey, it happens. Truth be told, I wasn’t all that sold on Iggy Pop either.

3) There are three people in my life who continually inspire me, unconditionally love me, and make me a better man by their mere presence. They are currently walking with me through the hardest challenge of my adult life thus far, and I felt it was once again time to give them their due respect. Even IF I blew the 100 word limitation by a straight 100% in the process. Being their dad is never a pain, and always a pleasure.

3.5) Well. I suppose we can all safely assume that that last bit is a *touch* over-the-top, unadulterated and biased b.s., right…?