Dear Pop

Just about an hour or so before sunrise and the rainfall has not let up. Safe to say that I am only on an hour of sleep. It is also safe to say that with the hour being what it is, it doesn’t look like I will sleep at all. But such is life, I guess.
The days are moving closer now and soon enough, the day will be here. Christmas Day. And now is the time for the last minute dashes to the stores. The lines are long and the shopping is certainly intense.

I am trying to think back. I am wondering when we had our last Christmas snowfall. I am wondering when we had our last Christmas together. And I mean all of us.  Everyone, including Elyse, Jodi, and Maury.
I am wondering when we were all together for the holiday season. More accurately, I am thinking about how mindless we are sometimes.
What I mean is I am wondering if anyone ever realizes, “This time will be the last time we will all be together.”

I remember my last Christmas when I lived in Dix Hills. I knew the end was coming. I knew there were changes on the way. It was all so painfully clear to me because the end of my relationship was very clear.
I remember looking around the home of people that were once my in-laws. I looked at my daughter. She was almost two years old at the time. I wondered what my future holidays would be like. And I wondered if I would be alone all the time. More accurately, I wondered if I would die that way. I questioned if I would ever be happy or have a family of my own someday. And I mean a real family.

I remember some things but most is a blur.
I cannot remember the last Christmas we were all together. And I can’t recall the last gift I bought for you or Mom. I’m not sure, but I think I have small recollection of Christmas time at the end of 1988. We were at Elyse’s house in Merrick. I think you let me have a beer with you, which to me was a really big deal.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t at my best at the time. I was out the night before. And when I say “Out,” if I remember correctly, I was riding around in a van until the early hours in the morning. Unfortunately, I was high on an unforgiving drug.
This is when my sickness really began to take off. This is when you would ask me about the way I looked. You wondered why I was losing so much weight. You wondered why my eyes always looked the way they did with dark black rings beneath them. You would mention how I looked like I was sick all the time. And I was sick. I was sick of from so many things. You hated the fact that my skin was green. You hated that I dragged my feet when I walked and you hated the way I talked. More accurately, you told me you hated the fact that you were watching me kill myself a tiny portion at a time

I remember believing you were at the end of your rope with me. I remember thinking you were ashamed of me, which made sense at the time because I knew what I was doing. I also knew what I did to get extra money.

I remember feeling ashamed whenever I was in the same room with you. And you, I know you tried the best you could.  I think the problem is I was suffering from something you couldn’t fix or understand.

My best description of how I saw me is that I always looked upon myself as troubled. I saw me as handicapped. In fact, I saw me as worse than handicapped. I was incapable of doing simple things. I could never be honest. I could never look people in the eyes. I was always looking for a way around things and always trying to find the next best escape. I suppose you just wanted me to stop what I was doing. But that’s just it. I couldn’t stop what I was doing.

I was always so petrified of the pain. I felt everything. Literally, I felt absolutely everything. I was raw to the touch and frustrated. I was dealing with thoughts I couldn’t understand. I was trying to process information and trying to process emotions that took the best of me.
I suffered from something similar to an emotional stutter. I explain it this way because when someone stutters, the anxiousness and anticipation of their next word makes them stutter more.

If someone stutters and you shouted, “JUST STOP IT!” this wouldn’t fix their stutter. It would make them stutter more.
I can say the same thing for someone that suffers from nervous ticks —if you shouted at them or put pressure on them to stop it, it would only make things worse.

I was the same way. I felt this way all the time. I knew what I was doing. I knew the details of things I had to do in order to get more. I knew how shameful these things were,. I was wrong and I knew this but the compulsion was just too strong. Sanity and logic escaped me. And by you telling me to “JUST STOP,” it only seemed to sink me deeper into my sickness.

I never wanted to feel the way I did. I would have rather been the son you always wanted instead of being me, the son I thought you were ashamed of. I wanted to be good. I really did. I just couldn’t stop myself.
I never meant to embarrass you. I certainly never wanted you to be ashamed of me. The problem was I had this thing in my head that talked for me, thought for me, and as far as I believed, this thing was the only thing I could do to take care of me. Otherwise, I was always in pain and always depressed.

I know you didn’t understand. I explain to people about disorders all the time. I talk about emotional disorders and substance abuse disorders. I tell them about the word, “Just,” to help them understand what the sickness is really like,

Imagine the way you felt when you had food poisoning. Imagine vomiting in the toilet and then while you were so sick and unsure if you would vomit, in mid hurl, someone came over and told you, “Just don’t throw up anymore.”
What if someone came up when you were that sick and said, “Just don’t throw up anymore and you’ll be fine. Would this make sense?
Or, what if they said to you “Just don’t shit your pants?” when you weren’t sure which end the food poisoning was going to come out of

Or better yet, what if your cat allergies started to attack because a cat walked by and I said to you, “Just don’t sneeze.” would this make sense to you?
See what I mean, Pop? My sickness was the same thing. I wanted to stop. I just couldn’t.

But I get it. I know what it means to be frustrated. I understand how it feels to not be able to help, to feel helpless, or to be totally powerless. I get it.

I understand you were frustrated. I was frustrated too. I was frustrated for the same reasons as you.
Same as you wished you were able to reach me, I always wished I could explain myself to you. But this is the problem. And we were not alone in this problem either.
Think about it . . .communication is important. And when you lack the words to explain or express yourself, this means you lack the ability to communicate.
This is why babies cry. They cry because they don’t have the language to express themselves. This is why grown men shot at the sky.
Frustration caused me to curse at a lawnmower for a good art of a summers afternoon. Frustration causes fights. it causes arguments. My frustration throws me from my balance. And that’s when I screamed. I screamed because I couldn’t fix the problem. I screamed because I struggled to communicate properly. I screamed because I was afraid; I was angry and lonely. I screamed because I didn’t want to suffer changes but changes happen whether we want them to our not, so I screamed and acted out because there was nothing else I can do.

With regards to me and you, I cried in different ways. I acted out. I screamed in behavior instead of using my words.
The truth is I always wished I could show you the things that went on in my head. I always wished I could explain myself, or better yet, I always wished I understood the thoughts within my head. But I didn’t. And I get that now.

I never thought about what our last day would be like. I suppose I always saw you as my Father. You were Pop, The Old Man, and more importantly, you were my hero. I always wanted us to be close. I just didn’t know how to reach you.

This is Christmas time. It’s been a long time since 1989. I still go over your last few nights in my head.
I always wondered if you knew where I was coming from. I always wondered if you knew how much I always wanted to please you.
I still have this picture in my head of you in the bed, the lights above you were dim, and there was an oxygen tube beneath your nose.
You were tied to machines, You looked gray. You looked old. I swear, I felt like a helpless little boy. And I can still see this memory. I see it as clearly as anything. I can see all the Christmas lights that glowed in the Coronary Care unit

I know I write to you often but usually about different things. However, with the anniversary of your death coming up, I wanted to write this message to you and be sure I said the things I always wished I said to you. I still have more to say. But I will save the rest for a few days from now.

Miss you Pop

I love you

Your son

B-


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