Han Solo returned to the silver screen last year. Blade Runner and Indiana Jones sequels are supposedly in the works. I’ve always thought Harrison Ford bore a surprisingly strong resemblance to my father, so it is unsurprising that with him being on the screen in front of me so much, that my mind would wander to my old man. And with those muddled memories and confused feelings, I find myself swimming in a mental state that is somewhat…lachrymose. Not entirely, just…somewhat.
Now before you imagine me spending my days in an obsidian tower weeping uncontrollably, I must remind you that I come from an Irish family; I tend to keep myself rather contained. So no grand displays of sorrow, simply moments of quiet distance and seemingly out of place aggression. But I digress.
My dad was a great guy. I’m not delusional; I know he made his fair share of mistakes. I also know that he did his best to overcome those mistakes and give me the best life he could. He was always there for me when I needed to talk. Even when we were a thousand miles apart, he would sit on the phone with me for hours while I ironed out the wrinkles in my life. He would offer advice when I was lost, a helping hand when I was down on my luck, and a listening ear when I simply needed to work things out on my own. And then one day, he was just gone.
No more phone calls. No more advice. No more kind, reassuring words. No more anything. I was stripped of his quiet strength in a matter of moments, and his absence created a deep, lasting vacuum in my soul.
Dead. It’s such a cold word. Humanity knows no finality as harsh and as permanent as Death. It’s ironic that dealing with death is such a major part of living. In the end, everyone you love, everyone you know, and everyone you don’t know, will be dead. Gone. Cold.
At first, it was noticeable in every waking second. Each breath was labored as I learned to cope. People tried to tell me that things got easier or better, or that everything happens for a reason. Which, by the way, is bullshit. If you ever find yourself in the presence of the grieving, don’t you DARE say any of those things to them. Those are some of the worst things you can say to someone who has lost a loved one. What should you say? Not a damn thing. Sit down and just be with them, you dunce. There is nothing you can say that will ease their pain. What they need from you is silence. Quiet, uninhibited comfort. No words will improve their situation. The grieving merely require a shoulder to lean on as they regain their emotional feet.
And I digress yet again.
In the months after his passing, I looked in all the wrong places for comfort. I eventually found myself crawling into a bottle of whiskey every night just to stop feeling at all. It was a short-sighted move, for obvious reasons. In the end, it doesn’t solve anything. It simply prolongs the process. Eventually, I figured that out, and I pulled myself together. Because no matter how much you want to ignore it, time marches on. Life continues. And you have no choice but to find a way to keep living.
I didn’t notice it, but each day was a shade brighter. Just a little bit easier. And as the days became weeks, and the weeks became months, eventually building into years, That cataclysmic event faded further into the background. But…it didn’t hurt any less. It became a phantom pain. Things would happen, and I would be faced with the fact that I could not share anything with my father. I couldn’t call him when something good happened. I couldn’t share with him any of the things that I knew would make him laugh. I couldn’t discuss anything that was going on in the world or in my daily life. And that fucking blew. Hard.
But I got used to it. I developed calluses, and the things that once rubbed me raw eventually became almost unnoticeable. Almost. And then there came a day, a day that I cannot remember, where I was stable once again.
Stability, or rather regaining stability, is its own special kind of bittersweet. It means you’re going to be okay. I means your life can go on. It means you have moved on. And that’s great.
It means you’re going to be okay, despite your tragedy. It means your life can go on without them in it. It means, somehow, through time and sheer force of will, you have moved on just enough to stand on your own. And that’s kind of sad.
Now, here I am, several years after the fact, looking into the future, knowing that I have many more days like this ahead of me before my life is over. I have hundreds of days in the next fifty years where a song, or a conversation, or a stray thought will trigger the underlying injury, and I’ll experience it all over again. It never goes away.
I am forced to look at my life as it is, I must not live in the past or I will dwindle away and cease to be a person. I will be a ghost, someone lost in what has come and gone, unable to appreciate the passing of time and all the great and terrible things that life has to offer. Death, when viewed on its own, is a cruel beast. But we tend to forget that Time brings balance. Time graciously wraps its arms around our shoulders and leads us away from these moments, leaving them forever behind us. No matter how devastating the event, due to the passing of Time, we do not stay buried in the tragedy.
Time has left it behind; perhaps so should we.
I like to think that I have left it behind. Well, the bad parts. I try to carry with me the good parts. I no longer feel like a child left naked and alone in the savage winds of an unknown land. I am now a man. I may not command the seas upon which I sail, but I am in full control of the ship. I can weather typhoons and water like glass. I am a man.
However, every now and then, the old scars still ache. And every now and then I have a day that is just kind of off; it’s like a whimper and a sigh, a whisper and a scream. Like I said, somewhat lachrymose. It’s taken me a long time to figure out that there is nothing wrong with that; nothing wrong with feeling it, embracing it, and exploring it. But when the day is done, I must away. I cannot stay there, because tomorrow is something new, something I have never seen before. Whatever has happened in my previous days, when the sun rises, I am in uncharted territory.
I can hear my old man now. “In the spring, leaves burst forth on the trees. In the summer, they are green and strong. In the fall, they fade and die. In the winter, the trees are barren. And then, through some miracle, when spring comes around again, brand new leaves pop up on those very same branches, bringing green back into the world. Everyone loves when things are green and happy and warm, but it’s important to find the beauty in every season. Remember, whether good times or bad, this, too, shall pass.”
So, here I am, in this moment, beautifully lachrymose.