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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Back in Time


Well, we got through it; three days have passed since 26th July, the darkest square on my calendar. Last Wednesday marked twain years since our extended family flock lost its second-youngest lamb.

As I mentioned to my brother, quite a while ago now, go back in time to that terrible night. After all the neighbors and the cops and the medics and the chaplain and Charlie had gone away, he and I stood in the driveway and looked ahead at a long road that disappeared into murky blackness.

Didn't know how long it was. Didn't know where it would take us. But we were on it, all right, going full-tilt boogie with no headlights, no GPS, no speedometer, no seatbelts.

Now, quite the opposite. We rolled through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. We fear no evil. The road hasn't ended yet... I suspect our muscle-car era vehicles will break down before it ever does. Whatever.

We can look back now, in the light of day, and see the route we traveled. Some rough terrain, to be sure.

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But nobody can live that way forever.

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Although it takes quite a bit of (s)training, we've got to do it. We Hellers have got to stop ticking the time away from Charlie's tragic death as the starting point, as the Big Bang to our universe.

What we have become is who we are, yep, I get that. Still, we didn't teleport here. Nobody beamed us up.

It's both effortless, and not - letting your mind return to those easier, less painful times. Forgetting what you know. It is both helpful, and not. I don't just mean this thing. I mean everything, everyone.

Charlie's passing on July 26th, 2015 and all that has followed was our family's private 9/11. September 11th, 2001 was America's 9/11. Lost are the loved ones.

As described here, we have been engaged in a personal conflict ever since 7/26. America has been engaged in a global conflict since 9/11. What was lost cannot be found.

The road is closed.

But remember what it was like on September 10th of that year? It was a really nice day. Kids were settling into their school routines. The summer warmth had slacked off but the leaves were nowhere near turning color.

The night was capped off by Monday Night Football. It was Ed McCaffrey's last game. The Denver Broncos' wide receiver broke his leg. Falling asleep on pain killers that night, he probably figured his life had changed forever.

The next morning, it all came crashing down, out of a clear blue sky.

That is not where America's road began. But we treated it that way, and now look where we are: Billions of miles away from where we were, no end in sight (unless you mean that cliff up ahead).

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That's not gonna to happen to us, Charlie. I will not remember you merely as my nephew who died, but as that spirited little boy who lived for 12 years, who made my sister happier than anything else in her life ever had.

That doesn't go away, kid... Not on my watch.

pH 7.29.17

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Songbird

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   The words we would say
   as the time slipped away
   our carriage the horses had drawn.
   Through fields and farms
   I held you in my arms
   and wondered what cloud I was on.

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You like that, eh? Everybody does. It's concise, a little abstract, but you still know what it's about... It's pretty good, if I may say so myself.

I wrote it for a girl I know. I'll call her Mel. We met at a bar where I was drinking and she was working. We struck up an odd friendship. We talked a lot about life. I found out she writes poetry, too.

Mel is very young, but already had a couple of kids from her teenage years. Like most young people with children, she struggled at times. When the bar job fell apart suddenly, I asked my boss to give up some telephone work to help bridge the employment gap (and stopped patronizing that establishment.)

I spent a few bucks on her family for Christmas that year, because I could tell she wasn't exactly able to shower them with gifts. Santa scored some fuzzy socks and slippers for Mel, too.

After that, we drifted apart, and she was mostly gone from my transom. Got married, had some more kids. We stayed only occasionally in touch electronically. She was like a bird who used to sing by my window, but then flew away, and only once in a while would I hear her again.

I managed to get in touch with Mel after Charlie's tragic, fatal accident. With a house full of boys, it was more than she wanted to ponder. I ran into her just once after, about a year ago now, and we had a nice talk. And then she took wing again. Of course she did.

I got to thinking about Mel last night, my young old friend, wondered how she was doing. When I gave in to the urge to look her up, the first thing I found was a GoFundMe page under her name.

I didn't want to click on it. I know that those are often people seeking funds for the purposes of giving their loved ones who have passed a decent, dignified burial. Or to carry on good works in their names.

So I clicked on it - and there was her smiling face! Mel was raising money so that she and her husband could legally adopt his two young kids from their own struggling mother, who wanted to go to Florida and had agreed to sign her parental rights away. (These things happen.)

Mel's page said they needed a couple hundred dollars per child, and another couple hundred on top that for a "home check fee". Many people had ponied up already, and she was within $25 of reaching her goal, accomplishing her mission.

I'd post a link to her page, but I don't have to, after making the capstone donation myself. Congratulations, kiddo. It was my pleasure.

***

As we have seen in this space, there are forces in the world that have no problem tearing families apart. I am happy to have been able to help someone, a good person, put a family together. I get to smile as I watch them fly away.

pH 7.16.17

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