My mom is fading…like a solar light.
As each week goes on, she dims more and more.
My mom is fading…like a solar light.
As each week goes on, she dims more and more.
On crowded flights, I inadvertently get asked this question: “So, what do you do?”
I hate it. It makes my asshole tighten up. People hear what they want to hear. Some get it. “World traveler, lover of culture, foodie, writer & book addict”, but most don’t. They tend to focus on “nude centerfold…oh, wait…isn’t that PORN?”
Europe, Canada, Great Britain, Japan and many other countries consider this question very impolite. Even if someone is a surgeon who owns a wall decorated with degrees. Asking someone what they do right when you meet them is akin to picking your nose at the dinner table. You may be greeted with an icy stare of disdain or a forced laugh to cover up the shock. And I agree with that.
Because they know that who you are as a person isn’t what you do. It’s the movies you like. What music you listen to. The hobbies you enjoy. The book you last read. The kind of food you love. The kind of workouts you do. If you have a dog or a cat…or birds. That’s who you are. Not how you earn your money.
But here in the USA, not so much. It makes me sympathize for all the garbage men, janitors and dishwashers out there who work very hard. And are great parents, love to tend their gardens and love watching funny movies.
“So, what do you do?”
On flights, where I’ll never see the person again, my answers vary.
Tampa to Philadelphia: “I’m a social media expert.”
Philly to Tampa: “I’m a horse breeder.”
Columbus to New Jersey, “I’m a quantum physicist. I’m actually on my way to CERN this evening for a meeting about the Large Hadron Collider.”
Louisville to Atlanta: “I’m a sniper.” And so on.
Because it doesn’t really matter anyway. What you DO isn’t who you ARE.
I met a man in Japan once. He lived in China. He was slim and athletic with a strikingly handsome face, fun sense of humor and dark eyes that were almost black. He was half Mexican, half Anglo and the stuntman action film I was working on. We were put together so he could train me in some flashy martial arts for the movie, and as two of the only people there who spoke fluent English, we ended up talking quite a bit after it was done. I was very down about many things, and he showed me another way of looking ay my situations. One of which was my age….hitting thirty and still chasing a dream, wondering if I was missing out on having babies or a house of my own yet.
He said something like this: “The people who do have all that think YOUR life is far more interesting. And, age is just a number. My mom had me at age 40, I was her first child. No problems. So don’t stress. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Live your life.”
(As the housing market collapsed a few years later and everyone I knew lost money on their homes, I was quite glad to be a renter. Ditto for not having kids. May not be for me.)
He invited me to visit his where he was currently staying in Tokyo, giving me the complicated train instructions. I was in a terrible relationship back in America that would soon end badly…but declined the invite, saying I didn’t feel well. A lie.
He was one of the most positive people I’d ever met. I left Japan and stayed in touch with him via email, but eventually, life got busy for both of us & we lost touch.
We never so much as hugged, but for many years, I thought about him. His love of life. How much his outlook had affected me.
I always felt that I’d missed the boat with him…meaning I think he could have been good for me, and I could have learned from him… & I promised myself not to let that happen in life again.
I recently connected with him on Facebook again. He is happily married and I am not looking for anything out there, but I got the chance to tell him how grateful I was for his advice & how it changed me. I was happy to have the opportunity to thank him and still have him as a friend.
We don’t always remember what people SAY, but we do always remember how they make us FEEL. In this case, I remembered both.
I am openly agnostic. A Diest. Whatever you want to label me as. I don’t believe the bible is anything other than a bunch of fictional stories written by men to keep others in check and women weak. And I certainly don’t believe in Jesus.
I tend to look at Jesus and religion the same way I do drinking or drugs. As a crutch for the weak to get one through the day. Some take a nip. Some a pill. Some do Jesus.
I was christened and raised a Methodist. I come from a long line of obedient believers. Gram Catholic. Poppy was Lutheran. Great Gram was a German Jew. They all believed. I went to bible school, sang in the choir and attended Sunday school.
I have NEVER believed what I read was right. Not even when I was a kid. I found the bible to be conflicting, confusing…and eventually ridiculous. I get that the Adam and Eve story is really about human nature. Tell people what they CANT have and it makes them want it so much more. OK, fair enough. But far too many take it literally. Noah really got 2 of every animal on an ark…and half of them didn’t eat each other? REALLY? An eye for an eye or turn the other cheek? What should I do? Delilah was stronger simply for cutting Sampson’s hair? And how come more men don’t have long hair these days? I found rape, all women were repressed or EVIL, abuse, fratricide, murder, fantasy. If you truly read it, you will too. Not many people read the ENTIRE bible. If you do, you will not believe it either. Not if you own common sense.
But I’ve always believed in God. Not a “man in the sky” god, but a spirit…or just something greater than we are. Maybe. After all, there HAS to be something better than WE are, doesn’t there? We can’t even get through a toll booth without fucking shit up.
But the idea of Jesus is…retarded. Really? The son of god, who IS god? Who died for our sins and came back? I truly don’t get it…and literally scoff every time I read that on some goobers car window decal. “Douche bags” I think.
But this year, I have learned something. Something important. Here it is:
Some people need Jesus.
With cancer, my mom has been frightened. She is dying. No doctor can calm her. No nurse can take her fears away. But the idea of a Jesus, can…and does. She has Jesus all over the house. At first I scoffed. Rolled my eyes. Humored her. Then, I realized that these pictures/statues do more for her mentally than anyone can. More than I can.
So I have learned to back off and respect that. Some people have security blankets. Some have vodka. Others have Jesus.
I still think it’s complete bullshit…but I can respect others need for bullshit in their lives. After all…we all have SOME kind of bullshit in our lives. What difference does it really make which kind it is?
I DO know this: Our behavior matters more than our beliefs.
It’s a terrible feeling when someone you love so much is hurting…and there isn’t FUCK ALL you can do about it. I know Mom is going to diet. We all do. But MOM doesn’t quite know that Mom is going to die…at least, until the doctor flat out told her yesterday. The pain in her chest is the cancer growing bigger and bigger. She needs to be on oxygen all the time. They are going to put her on morphine for “pain management”. These things pretty much signal the beginning of the end. I know this.
But I don’t think she did. Mom has Asperbergers. She has never really gotten the total meaning of what “terminal stage four cancer” truly means.
Now, she is just…gutted. Sad. Scared. Hopeless. Utterly panicked.
And even though I saw it coming, nothing prepares you for trying to help someone you love with all your heart come to terms with it. I can’t take the hurt away from her. I can’t take her pain away.
She says over and over again: “I’m not ready to go. I don’t want to leave yet.”
There is NOTHING I can do to help her situation, and this is quite literally killing me. I cry all the time. For her this time, as much as myself now.
I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to face a birthday where no one remembers to send me a card. I don’t want her to suffer any more. I don’t want her to be in pain, or scared.
I want her to have peace, and she simply cannot.
“I wrote a lengthy story a warrior woman who goes undercover into a harem to rescue an abducted princess. I always envisioned the main character to look exactly like you. I appreciate your offer to read it but I don’t want to give you homework (especially since it’s TEN CHAPTERS LONG.) A number of people have said I should try to get it published.
I appreciate you unknowingly being my writing muse.”
Oh, goody. Another satisfied & inspired customer. I truly wish I could do THIS for myself.
Someone asked me out tonight. I like that he had the balls to do that, even though he was on the “other side of the fence” at the convention. He’s a rugby player who competes in CrossFit. Tall…with clear blue slanted “Asian” eyes, a stunningly handsome face & quick, killer smile. Very unique looking. The kind of face you never saw before and will never see again. Made me wonder if he was a bright as he is beautiful. Most athletes and good-looking people are too disappointingly often NOT intelligent, worldly or aware.
I can’t imagine dating again. What a mess I’d bring to the table.
Still…it’s nice to be asked.
I went to yoga class today – Memorial Day – and the instructor decided to make a big show of lighting candles.
“I’m going to light these two candles. This one is for all of the troops who don’t make it home. And this one is for all the those who died in service….firemen, police officers…” She trailed off as she lit the second candle.
And it took all I had not to scream at her, “Candles don’t mean SHIT. It does not change a fucking thing.”
Because, it doesn’t. You’re sitting there, front and center, on a hard folding chair listening to Taps on the trumpet. The cloudless sky is an amazing blue and it’s as if God himself created the perfect day for this event. Then, he walks up to you. He bends over, and hands you a flag, folded into a triangle. He is wearing gloves. Your eyes tear, and you focus on the shiny brass buttons. Everyone is looking at you and you’re trying to be strong, but you’re starting to get it… you’re NEVER going to see him, ever again. He is dead. He’s NEVER coming back. All you have left that wasn’t incinerated in the explosion are the memories in your head and a few Kodak photos. And the greeting message on his cell phone that you keep calling over and over and over again, just to hear his voice. That’s what you have.
You will never have his advice. His laughter. Him yelling at you when you do something really stupid. His kindness. You will, for the rest of your life, say this: “I really wish Dad were here right now. ”
And lighting some fucking candles do not make a goddamn bit of difference.
Suicide. I get it. Sometimes.
I have an acquaintance on suicide alert right now who is in the same business as I am. His father was very successful at what we do and he feels he can’t live up to the name or hype. He also can’t get hired with a bigger, better company. And this is why he is upset, ready to give up. Taking pills. Wanting to die. Possibly. It’s fucking stupid. Especially since he’s quite talented at least one other thing.
I think there are two kinds of suicides. Those who are selfish and petty…they don’t see the big picture. These are the first group of suicides. The wastes of life or talent. Or maybe they are just a waste of space.
They’ve lost their job or partner or home and can’t see that life DOES go on. There will be more opportunities. We create our futures. But these short-sighted individuals would rather inflict the pain of self death on their family because of some small failure in their own lives without realizing what they’re doing to others.
Then there are the alcoholics, smokers and obese, who are committing suicide in front of us every day. Slowly and expensively. And usually, in denial.
Then, there’s the right kind of suicide. This person has fought to go on and make sense of it all…and just can’t. They are usually sick without a cure in some way, shape or form. They opt out to selflessly to SPARE their family and friends the pain or expense of having them around.
I just get so sick of hearing opinionated idiots out there eschewing suicide with their parroted words from the safety of their armchairs.
You sheep disgust me.
You Christians disgust me, with your narrow minds and fear-mongering. If there’s a God, he gave us free will, correct? So he would allow us the choice of life or death if needed? Christians also conveniently “forget” the horribly bloody past that their religion truly holds. This is alarming, since they slaughtered many who wouldn’t convert…all in the name of their god. But suicide…”Well, you’re going to HELL for that shit!”
Walk a mile, my friend. Walk a mile in a person’s shoes who has been through Chemotherapy three times and just can’t do it any longer. Or the person who as early onset dementia and no close living family or no finances to take care of them. Or perhaps even the manic-depressive, who can’t seem to get through life without hurting all the people he loves best, the worst.
My grandmother, sick of being sick, sick of being in pain… begged me to kill her. She fucking BEGGED me, in a totally sane voice, with her eyes full of tears. It was gut wrenching to see her in so much pain that she’d rather die. And, I would have done it too, if I could have. To help her. Because she meant it. She REALLY meant it. And if you can’t exit this life when it no longer has ANY enjoyment left in it, what’s the fucking point? All you’re doing is taking up space. Existing.
Walk that mile first, before you label it as “selfish”…because it just might be the most SELFLESS thing someone could do. Giving up one’s life is no easy choice…and it’s certainly not always right for us to judge.
“Some people don’t cry because they’re weak. They cry because they have been strong for too long.”