This Is What You’ll Say

I am three months and a week from my fortieth birthday and I miss my mom. 

I am the father of three crazy, beautiful, intelligent boys and I miss my grandmother. 

I am living a love story with a girl I met when I was eight years old and I miss my sister. 

I am working on being able to reconnect with my daughter and I miss my daughter. 

The other night I was talking with my wife about dying. It’s not unusual to do this, we have had rough lives and her mom died a month ago. She and I have a deep understanding of the temporary state of life and, honestly, sometimes life is rough enough for us that we each consider that it would be easier to end. 

I’m not going to kill myself. My wife isn’t going to kill herself. 

We talk. We argue. We cry together, sometimes. We care about each other, and because we each have some self-loathing we usually care more about each other than we do for ourselves. 

Sorry… I get sidetracked. 

So we’re talking, lying in bed, and I ask, 

“What will you say to the kids if I die?” 

She starts to say that she’ll tell them I loved them and they’ll get through it, and they-

“No.” I said, “What will you say to Aidan?”

Aidan is our six-year-old hurricane. He is overly emotional (like me), he is overly intellectual for his age (like I was), he is and has been over-the-top expressive and reactive to everything, all the time (like me). 

I am the only one he will listen to. I am the lifeline that pulls him in when he is flailing. I am his hope, because he knows I understand him. I am his, and he is mine and we both know that we need each other. 

So I asked my wife, “What will you tell Aidan?” 

She doesn’t know. She made me promise not to kill myself, she’s convinced that if I died she will wither up like a tomato plant in Fresno during August (it’s hot).

She doesn’t know how to get through Aidan’s maze. He doesn’t know how to interact with her. She loves him as fiercely as she can, and he loves her as insanely as any boy has loved his mother, and they clash. Two storms fighting for control, and they usually both end up very upset. 

Sorry… I digress. 

What would she say to him? 

Daddy died and now you have to figure things out yourself. All the chaotic emotion raging through your mind are now yours alone, the only one that knows the way through is gone. 

So here I am, just in case. 

Aidan, if it’s time for you to read this, then I’m not coming home. I’m sorry. 

I need you to know so many things that I didn’t get a chance to tell you. I have all of these dreams for you, so many hopes and ideas of how you will live. 

I can’t start telling you those, for two reasons. First, if I start, I’ll never stop. Second, my dreams for you aren’t big enough for you. 

You’re going to make mistakes. You will do things the wrong way. This is a necessity. Doing things the right way doesn’t teach you much, if anything at all. Don’t be afraid of being wrong. You will get stronger, smarter, better because you won’t want to do things wrong over and over. Do your best when you can. Just do… Don’t let fear of failure stop you from trying. 

I don’t regret anything I’ve done. My only regrets are things I didn’t do. Things I didn’t say. Chances I was too scared to take. Be better than that. 

Don’t let anger be your go-to reaction. Your emotions make you angry, not getting your way makes you angry, being sad or being tired or being hungry or being bored or being ignored or embarrassed or basically everything except music and candy make you angry and I’m telling you in absolute terms, this is going to hurt you. Learn to let anger slide past while your other emotions load up. If your reaction is sadness, be sad. If you’re embarrassed, smile and laugh because it makes embarrassment go away. If you’re going to be angry all of the time, you will make your life so much harder than it needs to be. 

Enjoy the little things, and chase the big things. Little joys are where happiness lives. Eat the cookie. Play the game. Laugh at the stupid joke. You can’t focus only on the big Happy. 

Set goals and work for them. You need a direction and it needs to be your choice. Find the thing that makes your heart beat faster, the thing that makes your brain feel like fire, and just do that. Act, sing, dance, create, do whatever makes you, you. Don’t get so caught up in comfortable happiness that you lose track of your path. 

Be prepared for things to hurt you but don’t worry about the hurt before it comes. You will always recover and the things that hurt deserve to hurt. 

When you love someone, all you can do is give that person your love and hope. You can’t make them into what you want them to be, you don’t get to choose who they are or how they will love you. You can decide what you will allow but you cannot make people give you what you need. 

Sleep when you’re tired, and when you wake up, get up. Don’t lay around doing nothing. It makes your mind stagnant. 

Eat when you’re hungry and when you feel you’ve had enough, stop. 

When you miss me, remember me. Think of the times we shared. Think about my smile, my laugh, my voice talking to you. Think about the way we connected. Remember the things about me that make you feel good, loved, special.

Because you are good. 

Because you are loved. 

Because you are special. 

Don’t ever, not for one moment, believe that I am gone. I am right here, thinking of you. You’re asleep and your brothers and Mom are sleeping, and it’s quiet. I’m thinking of you, and my heart is wrapped around you, and I will always be right here in this moment. 

Can you see me, son? I’m smiling, and loving you, and I will be, 

always. 

Eyes, Skies, Lies


 
It’s okay if you feel like these are just words on a screen, and if that obscures the obscene from your mental regime than I cannot fault your resolve and try to topple your walls, if it’s somethin strange in your neighborhood and you don’t call Ghostbusters than I’m not sure we can really connect. 
So. I see a lowered flag waving from your heart, and I want to help it fly boldly and proudly, to stand true and strong and somehow find light in private imagined darkened rooms, pre-emptively constructed tombs of doubt and despair, to climb up the ladders and fly up the stairs no matter how the stares and the glares might pierce you and demean, your challenges accepted, you are coming clean.
] tell me what you need
And I will provide
When they read of my love for her they look above her but none could ever be supreme to her she is my queen to serve and my life is what she deserves to burn if she wants fire I’m fuel, an uncontested duel of whatever you want and what I’m willing to do, but I would sell my child’s organs for you because my skies are all lies covering a thin disguise and my eyes cannot pry from locked doors and closed minds what truth in my life I should not leave behind.  
i can’t say anything anymore without thinking of how it sounds, 
 
is there a gentle touch inside us all which might propel some form emotional evolution, some type of redistribution of values and ideas which have been seen to be false; perhaps on a cold day all men shiver, and time is a package which never remains undelivered, but the hearts of all creatures are designed with a purpose, to live the next fraction of a second before your life muscles contract, every breath is gone with no guarantee of payback.
At times I think the whole world has gone crazy and at times I know there is no world or any crazy which is crazier than the thought of a placebo effect and we still won’t believe that we are what we perceive…is there any sense to any of these insane pursuits which scuff up our boots and leave us bereft, clinging to the small pieces left from the last time we loved and got broken again. 
someday all the doubts that live in my head will be silenced for good and I will believe what I cannot deny. 
Maybe.

Glass & Gale pt IV

The sunlight through the clear stone was warm. The cub moved the stone side-to-side and watched the light change color. Red, yellow, green, blue, the cub lay on his side and pushed the stone with his paws. 

As the light turned yellow again, the cub heard something from above. Looking up into the trees around him, he spotted the falcon from the willow tree sitting on a branch high above the forest floor. The falcon watched him, unmoving. 

Their eyes locked and the cub felt something pass through his body, warmth spreading from his chest to his legs. Time seemed to stand still as the wolf and falcon gazed at each other. 

Pain shot through the wolf cub’s paw and his eyes darted quickly down. The clear stone had light shining through it, and where the light fell on some fallen pine needles, a bright red burst of heat was growing. 

Jumping back, the wolf cub watched in horror as the flame consumed the needles and started reaching up the nearby tree. The heat grew intense, billowing out from the flame and leaping up the tree trunk. 

One burning tree became two, then three. The fire seemed angry, lashing out at all of the world. 

The wolf cub ran. 

The fire chased. 

Reaching his pack’s den, the cub started howling and barking at his family. 

“Go! We must go!” 

His packmates looked at him as though he were mad and started yipping at him. 

“Why?” “What happened?” “What’s wrong?”

“What did you do?”

The last question was growled from the throat of his sire. A huge black and grey wolf, the pack leader stood a few paces away, hackles raised. 

What did you do?” 

The cub shrunk away, fearful of his sire’s anger. He had seen many times his sire challenged by other wolves, and every time the challengers had limped away bleeding, or died. 

“Fire,” the cub whined. “It comes.”

Sniffing the air, the pack leader stared the cub down. “What part of this do you own?”

“The clear stone, it let’s light through, and-”

A sharp growl cut off the rest of his words, and the pack leader leapt toward the cub. Bowling him over with a shoulder thrust, the great Wolf leaned in close and snapped his massive jaws at the young wolf. 

“Your fault. You, with your games. You have never been what you should be. This ends, now.”

Lunging toward the young wolf’s throat, jaws gaping, the big wolf was surprised by the younger wolf’s shoulder in his chest. A fierce push set the bigger wolf back on his heels, and the two started circling each other. 

“So, the pup wants to play,” the older beast spoke with derision. “Come at me, then, pup.” 

Feinting toward the young wolf’s face, then snapping at his flank, the big jaws ripped a gash along the young wolf’s side. 

Falling back, then quickly jumping toward his sire, the cub bit down hard on the big wolf’s front leg. Blood filled his mouth as he shook his head, and he heard a cracking noise as the leg broke in his jaws. 

As he let go, the bigger wolf turned and closed his jaws on the young wolf’s neck, just behind his shoulders. 

A sharp scream filled the air then, and a grey blur from the sky became the falcon, swooping down and burying her talons in the great wolf’s eyes. As she pulled away the older wolf snapped his jaws up at her, and found purchase in her leg. Stabbing with her beak, the falcon ripped the great wolf’s face open as she flew out of reach. 

Wounded grievously and blinded, the great wolf snarled and snapped his jaws aimlessly, hopping in a circle with his broken leg lifted. 

The young cub closed quickly, sinking his jaws into the soft throat of the old wolf. Clamping down and shaking, the cub tasted his sire’s life passing through his jaws. 

Motionless on the ground, the great wolf died with a small whimper, and the young wolf backed away. 

Looking around, he spotted the falcon on a branch above. Bleeding from her leg, she looked down at the blood-covered wolf. She gathered her strength and leapt into the air with a short squawk. 

The smell of smoke and the crackling of flames consuming the forest got the cub moving. With a final glance at his deceased sire, he raced after the falcon, through the forest. 

Glass & Gale pt III

You are Curiosity

Seven moons had passed since the cub found the strange tree-thing in the clearing. He had grown strong, almost as big as his sire. Learning to hunt had made him fast and agile. 

However, the cub had a tendency toward being distracted easily. His sire and packmates were often displeased by the cub’s flights of fancy. 

Your first duty is to your pack, his sire would tell him. Chasing butterflies won’t fill your belly, or your pack’s. 

Roaming far away from the pack’s den, the cub had found many things that he did not understand. A half day’s walk from the den the cub found a great expanse of sparkling rocks and water that stretched forever. 

For hours the cub would walk through the rocks, listening to the murmur of the water as it caressed the stones. Each rock was different, an array of colors and shapes unlike anything to be found in the forest. Gray birds flew over the rocks and landed at the edge of the water. The cub would chase them into the air, then run away as they screeched at him and dived at his heels, swooping down where he had been. The cub thought it great fun to see the surprise in the bird’s eyes when he would stop and snap his jaws at them. The squawking and sudden changes of direction filled his heart with mischievous joy. 

At the end of the sparkling rocks a huge stone sat, with a giant willow tree growing over the top. The cub would sit under its low-hanging branches and stare through the leaves, for some reason the place filled him with peace and a small sadness. 

On this day the cub crept quietly under the canopy of willow branches and heard a soft crooning sound. Looking up, the cub saw a falcon sitting alone in the highest branches. The bird stepped side-to-side and made the soft sound with eyes closed. 

A small chuff escaped the cub’s throat, and the falcon’s eyes opened quickly. Staring down at the cub for a moment, the falcon slowly extended her wings. A small shake off her beak startled the cub back on his heels, then the falcon leapt into the air and flew away. 

The cub watched the graceful flight, feeling a deep sense of envy for the effortless way the falcon swept through the sky. 

To be so free…

The cub stayed under the willow tree until sunset, hoping the falcon would return. As the sun dropped into the water he started for home. As he reached the edge of the sparkling rocks a glint of light caught his eye. Sitting half-buried in the sand under the rocks was a stone unlike any the cub had seen. Gripping with his teeth, the cub pulled the strange stone up then dropped it on the ground. Perfectly clear except for a small mark on the center, the stone caught the light from the setting sun and made colors dance on the other side. 

The cub picked his treasure up and started running for the forest. His sire and packmates would not understand, but the cub had to see what else this light-stone could do with light. 

At the edge of the forest, the cub paused and looked back at the willow tree. He saw the falcon flying over the branches, seemingly looking towards the forest. 

I wonder if she can see me…

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. 

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. 

Why Life Hurts

I have a sister I’ve not met. We know each other through words on a screen and the occasional photo. We are close to the same age but have lived wildly different lives. 

She is the person behind 

Our Lady Of Lust And Grace

www.ourladyoflustandgrace.com
On Facebook, and her blog is the first I ever followed. She has a way, she has a style that hits my brain like sugar cookies, she says things that feel like  home and she calls me Brother Matt, because I told her she is my sister. 

This was written in response to one of her blog posts, if you don’t read her you should. 

“I love this. I love you. It’s not up for debate and does not require any action on your part… It’s what I am. 

I have been debated and disagreed with on this point, but, my definition of love seems to me to be accurate. After seeing what is said and done, for four decades and in hundreds of varied relationships, I have narrowed it down to a one-word topic:

Love is service. 

A mother loves her child, and there is no use in arguing, because when she loves her child it can be seen (and if she doesn’t, it can be seen)

Spouses love each other when they put in effort to show love to each other

Siblings love each other when they make sure to exhibit love for one another

Strangers display their love for other strangers, for the needy, for the lonely, for the random asshole that needs a bit more concern… When one person feels love in their person for another, they act. It’s used as a catch-all go-to default setting type of thing, but so often it’s being used to imply some type of obligation… (Of course I love you, now do what I want)

But…

If I love you, it means I will help you, I will work for you, I will go out of my way to give you a part of me and whether or not there is any tangible return from you, my love is being shown. 

Love is service. Love is given. Love is acted. Love is Eve and her children are the gifts of nature. Love is an apple tree heavy with fruit. Love is a flowing, ice-cold stream of clear water, waiting for you to drink. Love is gifts left on a doorstep with no ‘from’ address. Love is the unnamed stranger changing a tire and leaving without a word. 

Love is not a weapon… Love is a choice, a decision, an action, a thought that brings a smile. 

Love is, it just is, love is. 

Love must be. “

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)