Backwards into a wall of fire.


Why am I so afraid of this place? I can’t find the courage to go back. The last time there I laid my father to rest. And I have not returned. And just a few hundred yards away from him I laid a little baby into his rest. He never drew breath, stillborn. And at his side there is my grandmother. My grandfather too. She died when I was just five months old. My father died when Ruby was three months old. Another scar both my father and I share, being a new father while buckling to grief. He searched for God and the answer, to know that the end really wasn’t just an end. Ultimately he threw aside that notion and just grew into anger and confusion. I am trying so hard not to follow that path. I have done it all just like he did. The addiction, the rage, the abuse. All of it. I was the worst of his being. His worst fears come true.

But now this angry giant, the crazy storm is just dust in a box beneath six feet of dirt. And I am more scared of him than I ever was when I was just a child and I knew a beating was coming and the anger was going to be set loose on me. He’s just a ghost now, that never lets me sleep. He is there when I do and when I am awake he stands just behind the black blurry line of my peripheral vision. I sense him always. Always there. That’s my curse, the albatross around my neck as death and life in death cast lots around me. I don’t want to feel this, I certainly don’t want to sit and write about it. I doubt at this point if there is much I can add to it. But it’s all I feel. All I can see. The thing that was so huge in life and so frightening seems to have died in the common variety of dying. How can that be so? How can the giant sleep?

Thinking back two years. I was there at his apartment. I had gone into the room he died and found his stash of pills that the police and coroner had missed. And I sat in the chair he fell from and consumed what he had left. I was a man with a monkey on his back and the morality of what I was doing barely entered into it. I just needed to keep from being dope sick and to keep from feeling the enormity of what was going on. This doesn’t make me sound like a very good person I know. But I was an addict in his addiction and I did what addicts do. I regret and feel shame for that and many other things. I was in bad shape even before his death. Even going so far as to need to eat handfuls of pills in the bathroom of the delivery room before my daughter’s birth. I can give a hundred excuses and explainations. And there is nothing that makes me feel a self-loathing so deep I want to erase my existence from the world than those two instances. So if you were to read that and find me repulsive or disgusting. The truth is on that you’re a distant second to what I feel for myself.

So this is my life. The consequences and debris, the ruins and the trudging hatred for what I was and what it has brought. What time has brought too. I am searching for redemption and salvation and it always feels just out of reach, just beyond the length of my outstretched arm. I deserve nothing, no grace, no joy, no hope. But I can sometimes feel those things. They scare me, what do I know of them, these feelings that are warm and good. Except that often in my life I was raised up just so I could fall down.

Nothing seems clear anymore. Black and white have pushed together into grey. Right and wrong are matters of degrees. And it is all so messy.

And another year has passed and I haven’t had the courage to go back and lay to rest the ghosts. I cannot bring myself to the spot where it all will lay down and sleep. Maybe it’s because in a cold, cold night even the wrap of chains can be warmth.


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