After my visit home to see The Old Man at the hospital, I went back up to the farm and back to my routine. It was strange for me to be home again. It was strange because I was able to see what I was and able to see the remnants of what I had done. All around my rooms were tiny fragments of proof. It was uncomfortable to see my bedroom and realize the secrets, which I tried to keep. It was strange to feel regretful of me and my youth and strange to realize that yes, this was not a dream. It was all real. It was strange to see my mother and my brother.More than anything, it was strange to see The Old Man in the coronary care unit. I felt a switch in me— it was as though something was turned off or shut down.
I went back up to the farm like I was supposed to. In my best description, I was silenced like a child that was punished for something wrong.
The Old Man had a heart attack. It doesn’t get any more real than that. It was real that I understood that life is only lived for an indefinite amount of time. It was real that I felt the pain that I might lose him, my Father, the one I wanted to prove myself to and the one who above all others is the man I wanted to approve of me.
I was numb but I could feel. I was tired but I couldn’t sleep. I was helpless and hopeless and as often as I could, I asked God for His mercy. I asked God to help The Old Man. I swore I would make this up somehow. I swore that I would repay the kindness and “Be a good boy,” from now on.
I tried to make a deal with God but I wasn’t sure if I was saying the right things or if God was eve listening.
After my visit, I returned to the farm where I was mandated by the courts and went back to my routine.
It was strange how things happened. It was strange that in spite of recent tragedies, life still kept moving.
In spite of the broken-hardheartedness and the fear, life did not pause— everything just kept moving at the same pace, relentlessly, and ongoing.
An hour was still an hour. A minute was still a minute and a second was still a second. Nothing changed in the world. The only thing that changed was me.
At this point, there was no fighting back anymore. I did not resist or complain or find myself in trouble just for the sake of rattling the cage or to state my rebellion.
I did my homework and completed my chores on the farm. I behaved. I did my jobs throughout the day. I ate my meals and kept quiet. I fell in line and found myself working within the system instead of banging my head against the walls while trying to stop it.
I was hurting, of course, but I was unsure how to describe my emotions because this was unlike anything I had ever felt before.
I suppose I figured if I listened and maybe if I did as I was told; maybe if I ate all of my food and did all of my chores, just maybe, I could buy some favor with God and maybe, just maybe, God, Himself, would come down to save my Old Man
It took me a few days before coming out of my shell to speak with anyone. I was treated kindly. I was honored in a way that I had never been honored before. And by this I mean I was treated as a friend. I was treated with dignity shown empathy. I was shown kindness. Meanwhile, back home, the only thing I was shown by my old so-called friends was an invitation to go out with them to go get high. They didn’t care about me. They didn’t care about the fact that I was going to lose my Father. All they wanted was an extra body to come up with extra money so that there would be extra drugs.
The amazing thing to me was in spite of all the pain I felt and in spite of all the fear, the regret, and in spite of all the shame, I never thought about running away. I never consider the option of sneaking a drink when I was home or trying to find myself on a ride into East New York, Brooklyn.
I never thought much about this until it was pointed out to me by someone on the farm. And when this was brought to my attention, my eyes opened wide and I was like, “Oh yeah,” and I realized that something about me had changed.
Throughout the process of this loss, no matter how painful it might have been, I never thought about getting high. Not once. In fact, my thoughts were the opposite,which was foreign to me. This was odd because previously, I would get high and complain over the smallest incidents; however, now, the incident was my Old Man. This time, the incident would be the irretrievable fact that life is only lived in flesh for a certain amount of time; and after then, the rest is nothing but a stirring energy amidst the still and mournful silence.
My Old Man was about to die and the last thing I thought about was something I would always think about. This meant something to me. This gave value to my efforts. I found a reward. More accurately, I found the birth of my redemption.
I couldn’t believe that I was fine to stay clean through this. But someone told me, “That’s how it goes.” Someone told me, “It’s not the big things that gets ya. It’s the little things that trip people up.”
They told me, “It’s the little annoying things that made ya go crazy.” And I was crazy. I was crazy to think that I could go my entire life without losing The Old Man.
I was numb but I was hurt. But more accurately, I was beaten into submission. I was tamed by life’s circumstances and literally, the whole world could have pissed on me and none of it would have mattered.
I went back to the farm and I listened for a change. I decided to stop arguing. I decided to stop fighting back. It was obvious to me that all of my arguing was not helpful. All I could do was sit and feel.
I was so young and so frightened. I was too young to understand what I had done to myself and yet, I was too old to pretend that I had no idea why my consequences were so severe.
Perhaps this is when I began to really consider the program that was offered to me. I was neither accepting nor willing to surrender to the fact that I had a problem with drugs or alcohol; however, it was very clear to me that I was always the problem. It was me that caused my trouble same as it was me that caused my pain.
But what now?
What was I supposed to do? How was I supposed to figure out life when I tried so hard not to live it?
Life had come along to wake me up.
I had no idea when it was going to happen. But I knew the bad news was in the mail. I knew something was on the way.
I suppose I hoped for a Christmas miracle. I guess with all my heart, I just wanted to see The Old Man one last time before he went.
There were things I needed him to know and things I never wanted to leave unsaid. And I asked for this chance. I asked, “Dear God, just give me a little more time.”
But time is relative . . .
and it wouldn’t be long until I learned just how relative it is.