Charles Prugh and the Art of Living and Dying: September 25

Time goes by and I don’t write. I guess its my way of avoiding, to just not deal with it. I don’t know how to write about this ending, or what might be an ending soon. Stay in mourning all this time, an ending that I think started a few months ago, maybe a few years ago, and might go on for the rest of my life. Where does it end? I won’t see him or smell him or hear him except maybe occasionally in my dreams. But how could I ever come to some sort of reconciliation about it? All things die but no one quite so huge – like half my heart. Ok, a third of my heart. There is my dad, there is my mom, and there is me. Everything I have, everything I am feels composed of us.

Today has been sad. Some days I wake up sad. It’s the middle of the week, a few days away from my last visit and a few days until my next visit. I hang here in the middle and I’m usually alone. Will is at work. Nothing new there. Have I married a workaholic? Probably. He is as much like my dad as anyone.

Maybe the forties is about looking back a lot and looking forward and wondering himmmm…those things I thought would happen, I’m not so sure they will or even if they should. And I somehow should make peace with whatever comes, whatever happens. How can I open to what I’m becoming, to what I am without any attachment to those pictures? How do I let go of what was? How do I just hang between those two places, the past and the future in the fullness of the present? He isn’t dead yet and yet, I grieve. Earlier today in the car this phrase came to me: I’ve been grieving since I was born. I was thinking about the essential nature of a child and how you can look into a little one and see their nature revealed there before you before they’ve had the chance to take on the impressions around them to shape and sculpt their being.. its as if what what is really there is there already. I remember an observer, and someone who was serious. There was laughter too – a wise laughter but also a just a seriousness about something that was lost before I came into this world. A part of the essential story that got left out of this contemporary equation. Its something intangible and I can barely give it words but its always there as that intangible missing thing.

My dad. He bleeds a lot. He scratches, not thinking about it and he bleeds. Maybe those patterns can’t be broken any more. He always scratched. He talks while he is changing his clothes, while he is walking down precarious alleyways, navigating tight corners, his words pick up speed and he has left his body. This was OK twenty, even two years ago. But now he could fall and his spirit would come crashing down into a body which wouldn’t be able to hold him. I don’t like it. I feel as though I need to watch every move, maybe even more than before. He always fell. Sometimes he wouldn’t pay attention. And he’d fall on his face. They were usually pretty ugly falls. Breaking a hip would be ugly. And there would be a lot of blood since the skin is paper thin. There is no more catheter. He goes to the bathroom on his own. The bathroom and his bedroom have this smell. I scrubbed the sink. I didn’t tell anyone, hoping it would help but I’m not sure where it originates. It’s a smell I’m not comfortable with. Piss and rotting – those are harsh words but it’s a smell human beings aren’t supposed to like. It reminds us of things we don’t want to think about.

We are reevaluating his story we are writing, what it means, what it is. He wants an audience defined. He wants a title. He wants to know to whom and to what. And I don’t blame him. But its his story and I want him to tell it as his story. The story changes depending on the audience. So what does that make the contents of one’s life? Completely permeable and malleable depending on who its for, because when the tendency to make an impact overrides the telling, maybe the telling is dictated by that. I said grapple with the story, we’re discovering it, uncovering it and we’ll find it. We think its now more about the recognition of being mortal, something seen and felt and when its tangible physically. it changes the view. He laughs now,he reports, and there are many more jokes. And he is wondering if he can bring humor to this story. Will it fly? Its something we don’t know the answer to. And the other question is is this a story I can participate in? Can he tell this story and can I together? Can we go back and forth from chapter to chapter? Is it a picture book? In what form does it get told?

I should carry this computer around with me and type type type when we’re around or record every word. It just feels so awkward and I have to face something about the finality of it that really bothers me is painful. I want to have natural conversations, conversations in the spirit of taking things for granted as if time will go on and on. The ease of unselfconscious laughter. The trivial conversations. Taping and writing feels like it puts this time on a stage as if we have something to present and our posture changes. How do we have both? The last words in a strand of last words with the comfort and intimacy of what has always been.

How does his illness change me? It makes it clear it won’t go on forever. My parents have been my primary ‘circle.’ They are who I go to, not necessarily for advice but maybe for the familiar, for home. Home is changing. But the primary home is right here as it has been for so very long. Its just that there is so much love there, and a whole lot of enjoyment and laughter and there has been for so very long. And to have that take away. What happens to family? I have one of my own. I have one child and what happens there? Everything I’ve known changes. I’m tied to a child which scares me to death. Fills me with anxiety. How do I possibly do that? And how do I stand the sense of powerlessness, the limitation of time and probably money? How is it all juggled? Do I need to change my relationship to life by putting surrender back into the equation?

Last weekend I lost my temper with my parents again. My wick, its short. I have no patience for their treating each other they way they do. Simple communication problems I call it, Get over it and move on. You don’t have that kind of time. And I’m not going to divide my time between two warring tribes. I’m tired. Tired of being afraid of saying it. Except I didn’t know until I’m faced with it again and I have to do it. My father has little appreciation for marriage. Some kind of old thinking. My mother and her fear of being vulnerable and no entry in to acknowledge the conversation. How do you do it? How do you stay this stubborn for this long? How much energy is extended keeping up walls like that?

When all things beautiful and bright sink in the night. Peter Gabriel….

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