I’ve been trying to write for days.
This is what’s coming out. Slow dry declaratives. Short sentences. Non-sentences.
My brother-in-law died on Thursday. I got a text from my mother just as I got to work. It was not unexpected news. Still I had eight hours of work in front of me.
This is what’s coming, is pure historical record.
I had had visions of my reaction, had I gotten the news at work. We have a fire exit in the back where I work and I imagined myself ripping through the door and the alarm blaring and the snow falling. Instead I did my work and I told no one except to ask for some bereavement leave the upcoming week, once I learned when the funereal events were to be held.
How about a medication update? I got sad, occasionally organically, sometimes it was with effort, like I was chasing sadness down a twisting series of back alleys and sometimes I would glimpse it just turning a corner, and sometimes I could hit the accelerator and catch it. Sometimes not. Sometimes I ran out of gas and my emotional pace slowed and I would be numb for a bit and notice the colors of things. The taste.
Speaking of taste. I’ve been deep before and writing has gotten me out of it, eventually, not that this situation isn’t unique and terrible in its own right, its own unique flavor of dark. But I know enough by now to know I need to write.
How to get there, is the question.
At the viewing and after the funeral they had copies of some poems Ben had written. His commencement speech to the class of 2008. His best man’s speech at his brother’s wedding. I took none of them.
When the graveside services were over, his family starting pulling flowers from the bouquet to keep, presumably to keep. I did not take one.
His lot was down a small hill from the pavement where the hearse parked and I ended up on the right side of the casket in the corner, which meant I had to lift with my left arm, which has been gimpy for… months, I guess, like my elbow is rotting out or something is what it feels like when I lift something heavy. Going down the hill towards the lot I wound up in the bottom corner meaning I had the major portion of the weight of the casket and my brother-in-law inside and it was one of those moments like not adrenaline or anything, no super-human strength but I ordinarily would have said stop hold on I can’t do this I need a break I need to put it down. But I decided, as if there were a decision to make, that whatever my body was asking for would not be granted, not reprieve, not energy reserves, not oxygen, not even a second hand. My gimp left could do no more but it would do no less goddamn it would do no less.
My ex used to ask me to make promises of impossible things, and I would promise them. Like when she said what would happen when her MS got so bad she couldn’t walk, I said I would push her in a wheelchair wherever she wanted to go, and she said that in France they are not so great at making things accessible to wheelchairs and I said I’d invent a chair that could take the stairs, it wouldn’t be hard, I could do it, I still remember the design I thought up on the spot for my mind to grasp onto so that I could look her in the eyes and not lie. But there is a difference between not lying and telling the truth, and these inventions I envision and these novels I half-write and these remedies and workarounds for diseases beyond my comprehension that hold such promise when my eyes are closed, that seem certain to cure everything but death that I can’t sleep and can’t sleep and then it’s morning and only once I’m upright and back in the weather of the world do I seem to understand that physics is a truth unswayed by fantasy and hope. These songs I write the drumlines and the bassline to and once those are established I hear the guitar solos rip off into the night like a V-8 on a straightaway, until I sit down with a guitar or a drum and every category of overqualified equipment and I hear nothing. They are not lies but they are not the truth.
One of the priests quoted from Ben’s commencement speech in which Ben had said that after his diagnosis he realized he’d been asleep for the first thirty-odd years of his life.
This is what’s coming. History and pragmatism.
I’ve been drawing lately because I don’t know. It’s a good distraction until it isn’t, and then usually I put it down, but tonight I hit that wall and kept going and kept fucking up, kept getting it wrong and trying again and when I stopped I looked at the whole picture again and a lot was different but I couldn’t say with any honesty that I’d improved a single aspect of it. So, pointless activity in the face of humility, or something, whatever, it got me to the computer. Because even though it may be an illusion, here at least I feel like the choices I make matter. I feel as though I’m not wasting my time. I feel… something like awake.