What I Really Meant To Say

I meant to say, I love you, Mom. I was eleven and lying on the living room floor, and she was falling apart. Crying about life, about the difficulty dealing with my youngest brother. She poured out her heart, and then she had to go. 

“I love you,” she sobbed. 

“Bye.” The cold cruelty in my voice startled my brother and I felt something die, inside. 

I meant to say, I need to be your friend. I had been strung out on meth for weeks, maybe months… It gets fuzzy. Fifteen years old and trying to destroy the thing called me. I was desperately in love with her, Twenty-three and so much that I understood. Smart, funny, damaged. She told me that I was too young, of course I was. I told her that I couldn’t hang out with her anymore, because I couldn’t get over wanting her. 

I meant to say, please don’t let me screw this up. Twenty-three and so easily destroying the only real love I had ever found, she needed me and I needed her. We fell in love together, holding hands and reading philosophy and poetry by the ocean. Making love every night and fucking every day. Innocently, desperately, with joy and enthusiasm, we loved our love. We licked it. We breathed it into each other, 

and there I was on the phone, saying, 

don’t come back. Inside my head I was weeping, begging the words to change, please don’t let me do this. I need to be in this love. I can’t let this happen. 

But I did. 

I meant to say, so many things. Death after death after death and I kept thinking of the perfect things to say, too late. Funerals and memorials and another and another and when, when, can I say the fucking words that I need to say, in the moment? 

I need you, I love you, I  sorry. You were so much to me, you were my favorite. I need you. I need you. I need you. I’m sorry. 
Please don’t die. 

Buckle up. 

Look both ways.

 Take care of your health. 

Go see a doctor. 

Stop doing drugs. 

I need you. 

I meant to say,  I waited my whole life for you and I screwed it up the first time but I will not, this time, thank you for loving me, today we are man and wife, woman and husband (why don’t they ever say it that way?) Today we are choosing to say, 

This is us. 

I meant to say,  

I’m not anything special, just another survivor of childhood trauma and abuse. Just another recovered drug addict. Just another tormented writer, just another contradiction. Just another overactive mind. Just another insecure, needy, desperate fool trapped in a moderately attractive and confident man. Just another magician, using sleight-of-hand to show smiles and talent while hiding broken edges and shattered dreams. Just another depressed person, struggling with PTSD and suicidal urges. Just another day in the life of the impossible. 

I meant to say, this. 

45 Missed Calls

I’ve been avoiding this. 

I can write short things, small poems, quick hits and move along, nothing to see here, nothing to fear… 

I have always learned about myself by writing. 

I’m afraid of what I might learn, this time, and that’s why I’ve been pretending to have forgotten about my little blog. 

April 26, May 3, May 6, you would think people would show a little courtesy and die on dates further apart so as to spare me the trouble, to spare my hurts from being doubled or tripled or god-damned infinite. 

Matt was a good kid. He looked up to me. He was 19 and having fun and then he was dead on a road in the middle of the night, and his mom and his brother and his dad and by the way his uncle, Big Matt, the 25-year-old that didn’t know what life meant yet, the guy that had so much of his identity wrapped up in a kid that had the same name, none of these people knew what to do, that night changed everything. I’ve read those words before, 

That night changed everything

And I didn’t get it until I was screaming at the sky, drunk and destroyed, a few nights later, after burying that kid, that fucking stupid kid with an easy grin and more mischief than a toddler, that kid changed my life by dying. April 26 

Ethan was a good kid. 

My only kid brother, he was 29 years old and he had never caught a break on his life. Our mother had babied him and never taught him how to live and then, when she was tired of him, she booted him, just abandoned like a kitten on the freeway, he had no clue how to live. Something we had in common, except I was gifted with so many talents and strengths and I had other people to help me, but for Ethan, everything was harder. 

He was a fat guy. 400 lbs of neglected emotion and he was a sweet kid, he lived with all of his heart and would give anything to someone he loved. He did some drugs, he got into some trouble, he was unlucky. 

He broke his leg, and that lead to an infection that went into his heart and he died. A few months before his 30th birthday, he just died, and all of my thoughts about trying to help him and my guilt over being unavailable to him are all I have left. My only kid brother, and what does that mean, I had two kids that looked up to me and they both died young, 

I’m starting to think it’s me. May 3

In fifteen years, I’ve had fourteen deaths land in my heart. 

I won’t go through the whole list. It’s enough to say, some mattered more than others. I think it’s fair to acknowledge that everyone has their own significance, in the lives of those they are connected to…

Some hurt a lot more, when they go. 

Matt hurt a lot. Ethan didn’t hurt as much, but there was more guilt. A few others ripped me up. One in particular that I can’t talk about. 

Ruane, she was good at a lot of things.

She had a life that was both amazing and awful. The entire spectrum of experience was visited upon her, and she lived with undeniable courage. She also made some terrible choices and hurt a lot of people. 

She was my angel. I was her angel. 

We were close, for most of my life. She was a friend, she was a sister and a mother to me, she saved me more times than I can count, she was damnably charismatic and she was absolutely broken, and she was my hero. I looked up to her. She told me, once, when she was going through some hard times, that she looked up to me, because I was trying to live a life of truth and integrity. 

All I had ever wanted was for Ruane to be okay. I had seen the whole story, I knew the good and bad and I understood the choices, I understand still what it’s like to live broken and damaged and somehow still face life with ferocity and courage, I got that from her. She gave me so much. 

I left Colorado because I couldn’t afford to stay. Financially and emotionally. Going to the places where Ruane and I did things, hanging out and living, for close to 20 years she and I lived in those places and the memories were tearing me in half. 

I remember still, and I dream about her almost every night. I am not ready to let go. It may take me more time, for this one. Some of the deaths I’ve carried were momentarily sad, and I moved on. Some have taken years to accept. 

Ruane is still alive, in my mind. I can’t let her be dead, yet. I need her, I have always needed her to help me understand life. 

She dropped her purse from her motorcycle. I hated that she rode it, I was sure she would get killed. She loved the rush of being almost dead and fully alive, going fast and feeling the wind on her body, she told me it was like a drug, and she loved the high. 

It was late at night, she parked on the side of the street and ran out to get her purse. A drunk dude hit her, speeding and not paying attention, and she died on the pavement within a few minutes. May 6

I don’t mean to take anything away from anyone else. I know that Matt and Ethan and Ruane impacted a lot of other lives and I’m not the one that felt it the most…

I’m just the one writing about them. 

People live and people die, and 

I know this life is awful and amazing

And I can only live my own life

But how I wish I could have lived

With them. 

I can imagine Matt, all grown up and 33, still with the foolish grin but a man, not a boy. 

I can picture Ethan, 35 and finally figuring life out. 

Ruane would have been 50 this July. Her grandkids miss her, her daughters miss her. 

What would I have been, if they were alive, if Matt hadn’t changed everything, what would I have become? 

Life doesn’t give anything

Without taking something else away. 

Some Day

One of these days, I’ll look back at right now and remember how I got through. 

It’s happened before, it stands to reason that it’ll happen again. 

One day all of the sleepless nights will seem like a distant memory, a fantasy I created to pass the time. 

Close your eyes…

I didn’t mean forever!” 

(What Dreams May Come)

Some day, this period will seem like ancient history, the Greeks with bronze tools, the Romans with togas and debauchery and deception. 

Some day I will sit at her side while she dies, or she will sit at mine while I go, and whichever way it happens we will remember all of the times we have rescued each other. We will remember the troubles, a little. We will remember the triumphs, a lot. 

Some day our difficulties will make us feel stronger. 

Once upon a time I thought I would be alone and unloved forever. Today I know better, that I have lives in my hands, I have hearts in my mind. I know today what I could not, then. 

Some day I will have the answers that I lack today. The stress and trouble I feel right now will feel as unnecessary as the loneliness I used to live in. 

Some day I will have the hugs and smiles that wait for me, across oceans and continents I have a family of real emotion, spread across the world. They know who they are and I know that they dream of that someday, the same as I do, 

Some day my life will end on this plane and I will be remembered as things I almost was. 

Some day I will think more about what I have done than what I will yet do. 

Tempus FugitĀ 

At 6 AM, I’m full of anger. 

I have nightmares, every time I sleep, I see old wounds opened and heartache in endless loops. Last night it was my sister, the night before my nephew, the night before my brother, maybe tomorrow it’ll be my mother or her sister, her mother, maybe my friend that overdosed or maybe I’ll dance with possibility, maybe I’ll see what could come, my wife losing life or my kids getting lost, 

Time shows no remorse. 

At 9 AM I am Mr. Professional, smiling and lying about how I’m doing, I don’t want to ruin the illusion of polite business interaction, I am paid for my demeanor, I am a billboard walking in and out of client’s offices, I am a commercial on the phone. 

Those in-between moments try to trip me, song lyrics reminding me that my mind is a graveyard, my heart is a dirty whore, thoughts of death and suicide try to knock me to the floor, and then…

Once I’m out the door at 5 PM, my heart belongs to her, she of the golden hair, the stormy eyes, the only home. She asks and I try to answer, she demands and I fulfill, she worries and I soothe, this is my part of the day to make her okay. She works harder than I do, wrangling the younglings, somehow not strangling the damn things, she lives on a steady flow of stress and anxiety, she tries so hard not to let me see but I know, I hear, I see, when the stars shine you can tell they’re not airplanes, when the sun is hidden behind clouds you can still see the light, and when she’s going wrong I can see how to make it right, 

Usually. 

At 1:30 AM I have an appointment with silent contemplation, a reservation at a table for one that wakes me to a dark and quiet room. I don’t know when it started but the time for me to remember all the broken-hearted pieces of a boy, 

(He was me)

Is when she is softly laughing in her sleep, and the wildlings are tossing in their beds, this is the time for me to examine what’s in my head, or what I’ve read, to sit in bed with my cell phone lit, what is it? Why am I awake? 

From waking up disturbed to exhausting my midnight energy, 

I wind down. 

They say time flies when you’re having fun, 

It’s creeping up behind you when you’re not. 

Time isn’t real but it’s a real bastard, 

The waking up is the hardest part (John Mayer)