Sometimes the pain we experience can stop us dead in our tracks. Feel a powerful enough jolt of pain and you may find yourself unable to move in any direction. I know it happens to me, anyway. Look across the gravestones and see people who once comforted you, strangers now, so intent on avoiding eye contact it can bore a hole in your heart as long as you still care, still cling to counterfactual hope.
In a sense we are all dead people walking, and one day our walking becomes only sitting, then lying down, then less than that. The dead can’t do anything about it and death is a final refuge from shame, anger, pettiness and every other terrible thing we must sometimes tolerate in life. Death is a very high price to pay for that kind of relief.
I have to reschedule a cancer biopsy that was cancelled yesterday, can’t lift the phone. Need to find a surgeon to replace my left knee, but I also need to buy additional insurance to supplement the generous Medicare that will pay 4/5 of the $80,000 operation. I need to get the Medigap insurance ASAP, since it takes six months to become effective for treatment of a preexisting condition, like bone on bone osteoarthritis. Meanwhile, paralyzed, as I continue the painful knee exercises. The guy who is supposed to be making the Don Joy medial compartmented unloader brace hasn’t called me back and I haven’t been able to call him.
What I can do at the moment is sit and type. Writing is an indispensable part of my day. I do this now to try to move some of the awful feelings out of the way, to understand, and then compartmentalize, things that are otherwise unthinkable. My hope is to make a few phone calls once I tap here a bit.
My niece and nephew, irretrievably lost to me, because of their mother’s unspeakable humiliation at her untruthful husband’s shame. Kool-aid was served up any time my name came up, it would appear, a more bitter flavor than any I know. It has turned me into a monster and enemy to two kids I used to play with. That this has been accomplished by lies is little consolation to me, after all, I know myself to be a truthful person of good character.
Two of my longtime closest friends are now shambling zombies, avoiding eye contact with me in a graveyard. I don’t blame them for feeling that way, actually. If I had treated them the way they treated me, explicitly and undeniably for the last year and a half, I’d probably do anything I could to cover my shame.
What do we do with this kind of pain, these unwanted tastes of our own death, the death of loved ones, while we are alive and, theoretically, able to talk things out, apply love and understanding to fix things so tragically broken? Tragedy is when a beautiful thing that should be able to be mended is instead destroyed, out of anger and humiliation. The feeling’s now mutual, pal, you are dead to me. Not very satisfying, really, but a necessary step in healing — the discarding of people who insist they love you while demanding that only their feelings matter. They have very strong feelings about this, understand. Strong as death itself, it turns out.