Category Archives: personal

Eat your saw dust & paint chips and shut up.

This morning’s breakfast was trippy.  Literally.  They aren’t joking when they label this cereal “shredded wheat”.  It’s so shredded that it’s no longer wheat-like.  In fact, I doubt it’s even shredded wheat.  I love recycling just as much as the next person but rebranding saw dust as cereal is a little extreme for my taste.  Ha.  Taste.  Puns and such.  Observe the picture.  I was lucky enough to score a few white paint chips in my bowl of industry this morning like they were extra marshmallows.  They were potent and within two spoonfuls I began hallucinating and fell halfway into outer space and out of my chair.  Vitamins and minerals go hand in hand with the final frontier, fuck yea!  Way better than my bath salt smoothies.

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Of shock and awe.

“He’s gone…”  “He’s gone…”  “He’s gone…”  It repeats every day in my head.  Every night in my dreams.  Every morning it wakes me up.  How can this be?  It’s been almost three weeks since my father died but some days feel so normal, like he will show up in June, ready to accompany the rest of my family to the hospital when Makayla is born.  Other days I feel like I am suspended within a multifaceted tornado made of broken glass where I am not harmed but surrounded by fragmented reflections of myself.  I look closer and ask the shards of reflections, “Who are you?”  “Who were you?”  “Where’s your dad?”  “How could you not have known this would happen?”  Irrational, understandable, panic, and peace throw themselves on top of me like wet blankets and I want nothing to do with any of them.  What do I want?  I want emptiness, a place where I can meet my father, a place that transcends the finite halls that are plagued by mortality and it’s shortcomings so I can say one last goodbye.  I want to feel or see where he is, I want him to tell me that he will watch over us, that he has met his granddaughter.  I want to know what he thinks about her.

My muscles are quivering, these are the aftershocks of shock…..of awe, the remnants of my last desperate reaches and attempts to follow my dad when he took his last breath, foolishly and selfishly demanding that he not leave his family, taxing my intellect and imagination to it’s maximum capacity to create a memory of where he is right now, trying to trick my senses into convincing me that I have touched it and in turn, followed him into the beyond if only for a moment so that I can feel reassured that he still IS.  God, I miss him so much.  Just months before he died, he and I hiked Camelback mountain with my mom.  It’s not an easy hike and he apparently had a tumor in his lung when he did it.  That’s a fucking Iron Man.

Why did he have to die?

It’s fucked up, but I miss and ruminate on the days of Eisenhower Hospital; he was in his last month of life but he and I shared some of the most powerful moments of my life during that period.  I can remember in exquisite detail when I groomed him.  Right before I started, we each made a lame-ass joke to one another and then….we were completely silent from that point forward.  The energy in the room changed as if it snapped to attention.  Time did not stop, but it felt like it slowed down significantly.  The clippers hummed but I was hardly aware of the sound, I heard something else that I cannot explain, I felt something I cannot explain — nor do I have any intention of trying.  It still makes me cry because it was so sublime and…real.  It was cerimonious.

His hair was short and snow white with strands of dark grey.  He was “sweating” his cancer.  He allowed himself to be vulnerable with me and relaxed his head into my palm, allowing me to care for him.  We breathed slowly…synchronously.

I find myself at a loss now, so few words left to type.  Perhaps it is best.  All I will say is that’s the most significant thing I’ve experienced with my dad.  As verbose and exaggerated as this all might sound, I learned more about manhood in that moment than any other in my life, as if it was transferred to me intuitively.

You were a fucking rockstar, pop.

You were a fucking rockstar, pop.

 

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You’ve reached awesome stranger. Teshia is not here.

I urge you all to do this once a month at least.  My texts are on the right.  Text the wrong person the right thing.

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2G service in the year 2013 should be a capital crime against artificial intelligence and robot progress.

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Iron Man. I am not an i-ron.

At some point during my early 20’s I got the nickname Iron Man.  I didn’t mind it because everyone needs iron to fortify their cereal.  Back in iron’s heyday it was the tits.  Yea, I just said tits.  This means that I share a connection with the tits of times past and cereal.  Fuck yea.  After interrogating nobody, I found out I had that name given to me for three reasons:

One, I went to the gym before work every morning and showed up in swimming trunks, sandals, and a tank top.  Why would I show up in such a relaxed and daring attire?  Because I would go swimming or hit the hot tub after alpha male-ing those 5 lb iron weights.  5 lbs in each hand, might I add (you may swoon now).  I wasn’t about to show up for work in my work clothes, that’s an idea that has no place at the workplace!  I forced everyone to acknowledge that I was entering my mediocre job feeling relaxed, feeling like a million bucks.  Nay!  A million relaxed bucks.

Two, it was a metaphor for how I would act when stuck in a glass box of emotions like Ron Burgundy.  I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve.  I wear it in my chesticle, where it belongs and where the Lord of Hosts intended it to be when he drew out the blueprints for my body.

There is not a third reason, I lied about that.

As I got older I contemplated on what was initially a joke and simple observation but it has taken on a meaning of it’s own.  Or not.  I have probably given it meaning and to me it has become a symbol that I take seriously now.  It’s a symbol of strength and reliability.  Now that my father has died, it’s meaning has matured and amplified.  I’m the head of my family now and I am starting a family with Sonia.  Iron Man is not invincible, but strong.  Iron.  Followed by man.  To me this means acknowledge the feeling and human part of my personality, avoiding the pompous idea that I’m an invincible superhero or a martyr, neglecting myself while being everything for everyone else. There is a man behind the iron and that should always be remembered.

It’s his heart that powers the suit.  It’s his mind that powers the idea.

Random thought complete.

Mark IV

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A foreign but promising land.

When I was younger, I often felt frustrated toward others when they did not share my passion for things, dismissing them as apathetic or shallow.  One of my best friends, Brandon, should have little trouble recalling those days, regularly hanging out with a Jesus Freak and pseudo-philosopher that studied anything and everything aside from the ordinary things that most 16-23 year olds enjoy.  I now understand how wrong that was to be so judgmental and dismissive.  A week into grief, into this foreign landscape, finding myself struck with such vivid and lucid visuals that it almost distorts my awareness of the real world, causing me to blankly stare and zone out, I understand that people cannot go where I go.  It is not their journey, the footprints that carve out this path are mine and that is how it should be.

No doubt others have experienced this walk before but I don’t expect others to come with me.  They simply can’t if they haven’t experienced it.  And that’s ok.  I don’t need to hear “I’m sorry”, “Sorry for your loss” or other well intentioned but well-worn phrases, ones that used to anger me because I thought they were a lazy ‘quick fix’ people used to escape the awkwardness or discomfort of a situation — in this case, grief.  I know people mean well and thank you for the support but I know I will be ok, that I will learn from this and change irrevocably because of this.  Grief does not need a cure, indeed there isn’t one.  I don’t need to hear about closure; one of the first things I have noticed a great many people talk about is healing and closure in the aftermath of a tragedy.  Healing and closure will come in due time and I have no interest in rushing either of those.  What is healthy is to fully feel and work through my grief.  Nor is time a cure.  Time can, however, bring perspective, wisdom….growth….laying on a mantle of inner strength and peace, helping me to continue to be open to life.

Sometimes I feel nothing.  Sometimes I cry with intensity that surprises even me.  Other times I feel incredibly optimistic or angry.  Sometimes I feel so sad that I almost cannot breathe.  It’s cyclical and somewhat unpredictable but it’s movement and I’m moving in a generally forward direction.  It’s a kaleidoscope of beauty and ugliness, filled with tests of character vs. habit and learning how to apply what you’ve learned and the impressions left on you by that person in your daily life.  I referenced a light my father kindled in my heart in earlier posts and it was no exaggeration nor was it an attempt to be poetic.  It’s a very literal description, the best I can do to explain his impact on me.  It’s a light that was never fully realized until he was gone, and I think that is the nature of it, it’s the nature of a great mentor’s influence (and blessed am I that I can call him my father).  He was cremated today.

I talk to him everyday.  Perhaps I am talking to nothing.  Perhaps not.  It’s irrelevant to me because in doing so, my memories of my father remain fresh and I feel connected to him.  I only knew him as my dad and I am ok with that.  Others knew him in a different light but I know that all of us may joyfully cite, reminisce, and reflect on common threads that were characteristically consistent in his many relationships with others.  His selflessness.  His compassion.  His optimism.  His discipline and inner strength.  His inner peace.  His humor.  His thirst for adventure.  His honor.  I think it’s uncommon in today’s world that a man possesses honor.  My father did.  Christ, am I so proud of him.  He was not perfect by any means but his spirit shone through regardless of the lens held up to him.  That’s beautiful to me.  That’s something to aspire to, something to achieve in my own way so that at the moment of my own death when asked, “Did you love and were you loved?”  I can answer with a contented and resounding “Yes.”

Dad-entry

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Empty shoes, a beautiful legacy.

He’s gone.  As much as I felt I was prepared for this…..I wasn’t.  Nobody ever is.  There are so many questions flying through my mind at this moment.  The sadness, the anger, the peace, the nostalgia, the feeling of having no control….the fear of having no control.  All of these things vie for supremacy within myself.  This is grief and it is completely natural but it doesn’t make it any easier.  I often intellectualize my emotions.  Is it a coping mechanism?  A world without my dad.  My sister calls this the “new normal”, and sadly….it is.  And it feels anything but normal.

I try to imagine every detail, down to the smallest one of my father’s last days on Earth.  What did he sound like?  Look like?  How would I have reacted to seeing him in such a condition?  My mom is a widow now, and my brother and two sisters no longer have a dad.  He’s dead.  I don’t even know what I believe concerning life after death.  There is no scientific evidence to directly prove it but there are mountains of subjective material shared by those who have been close to death and by people who have been by those close to death.  A few days ago, my dad told my mom that he saw a small child standing in his room with him.  My mom shared it with the hospice staff and they told her that not too long ago, a little boy had died in the same room.

923059_10152251712535400_836129692_nWhat was it like for my dad to have one leg in another world and his other in this one as his body and mind prepared to………stop and release him?  What did he see?  Where is he now?  And why can I not follow him to maintain some semblance of contact that doesn’t rely solely on my memories of him?  I don’t want him to be gone!  Almost everybody I know still have both parents alive…why my dad?  He was (still is) an inspiration to everybody that knew him — I am not saying that politely or generically, he truly was a mentor to too many people to count.  He was strong, calm, a philosopher, a superior fighter when it was required, he was an immovable rock, someone that was not subject to the emotional whims or tantrums over life’s unpredictability.  It was his support and active participation in helping my mother that she built her non-profit, “Tapestries of Hope” into an effective and successful grief support group for daughters whose mothers have died.

God damnit, he was a real man, a superior man.  He filled my heart abundantly when he was alive, from my childhood to adulthood and now into fatherhood for the first time and I know it is that very abundance that will do it’s best to fill the void left in me now that he is gone.  I wish he could be here as I raise my little girl with Sonia, it hurts so much that he won’t be.

Not even thirty days.  From the first call I got from my mom telling me that dad has checked into the hospital and it might be the cancer that we thought he beat last year to 11:21 p.m. last night when he took his last breath…some would say that’s a long time.  I don’t feel it was but I think I feel that way because I  want him back.  I had a week with him and I know there are plenty of people that don’t get that kind of time so for that I am deeply grateful.  I miss him so terribly much.  He was only 60!  Out of the blue cancer showed up in his blood.  Christ almighty.  I just spoke with him no more than a couple weeks ago, we looked each other in the eyes, we talked about a great many things at length, things I will always keep in my heart, so precious are those memories.  We made promises to one another.

Sobs rack my body.  Tears stream freely and had these words found their way on paper, the ink forming them would run…forever, trying to find my father.  I wish I could have held him, seen him one last time.  I received pictures from my mom and two sisters of them preparing my dad for cremation, wrapped up snugly in beautiful blankets and twine.  It’s beautiful indeed.  It’s sad as well, though that isn’t my dad wrapped up in those blankets.  My dad was too strong of a soul to be so contained, his enthusiasm for life, his compassion for others, his honor as a man and his terrible jokes that made you laugh at their…terribleness pushed into eternity last night, 39 minutes before Monday.

To anybody reading this, there is so much to live for in life and I truly hope you do just that.  Appreciate everybody and everything you have.  Never stop striving to improve your life and the lives of those around you.  Love.  Laugh.  Leave your mark on this world, make memories with the people you care about and even with strangers — you may have improved their day just by smiling at them.  Do not hold onto anger, hold no grudges, hold each other.  Look beyond the darkness, the negativity, the violence and selfishness we are all bombarded by on a daily basis.  Life is waiting to unfold from within you, seize every moment  you can and make it worthwhile!

Dad, wherever you are, I hope you’re peaceful and happy.  I hope you will still be able to see me as I live on and become a father.  Everyday I will look fondly on the memories we’ve made and the incredible influence you’ve had on me — an influence that is still at work in transforming me into an amazing person, a caring and strong person.  An influence whose echo will guide me into achieving my potential in life, becoming an absolute and sturdy force for good in this world.  You’re a beautiful man and I love you with all of my heart.  Goodbye, pop, journey well.

A man larger than life.  A man who WAS life.

A man larger than life. A man who WAS life.

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On the eve of parting: victor in aeternum.

I drive back home tomorrow.  I can’t bear to leave you.  Soon you will be leaving me.  Leaving us all for a walk in the sun where it is not light, nor is it dark but everything is indeed beautiful.  I want to see you as a human being.  Who are you?  You’re my amazing father but you aren’t everybody’s father.  There is more to you, you are a soul.  There was a time where we didn’t know each other.  Who were you then?  What did you believe?  How did you envision your life?  Your death?  I feel in the pit of my heart that this is our last evening together.  I would love for the door to stay closed that we might sit in silence, just you and I, and though you are far away, possibly walking the plains that will pass you to the peaks of providence, it is plenty for me.

Father and son

Are you closer to transition?  You’ve become emotional and light pours through your cracks as you talk of honesty, compassion towards others, and duty.  I’m moved to respectful silence.  Whether these realizations have fully dawned on and enlightened you now or been with you for years matters little because I’m witnessing their full impact and what these traits truly do to the individual that is wise enough to cultivate them.  Are you even from this world?  I think back to the knowledge you’ve imparted to me, the wisdom you have shared.  I listen to your friends and the people whose lives you’ve touched and they speak of you with reverence.  Reverence.  What an honor it is to know you, to be so close to you and be your son.

You scoff at the suggestions of semi-celestial traits in your character but I can think of no other fitting way to describe the way you speak and more importantly, the way you have lived your life.  By example.  Principles and ideals successfully applied, lived, and tested.  You’re victorious and not even death can take that away or diminish your legacy.  Your legacy will continue and your children will be it’s torchbearers.

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A rewound car crash on loop.

I’m waist deep in water.  Wall after wall of water relentlessly crashes down on me.  How I’m maintaining my foothold escapes me, I have just enough oxygen to breathe before the next wall of water slams into me, pushing me into an awkward dance for balance.  Where am I and how did I get here??  Where’s my dad?  I look to the shoreline and towering abandoned towers crumble to the ground in a lazy and sickly fashion.  My chest is tight.  The taste of salt fills my mouth.  Nausea.  At this moment I want to curl up into a ball and lay silently in a dry, dark corner.  I don’t know where to go or what to say.  I am surprised I am still writing something coherent.  My dad prepares for liberation across the hallway and I’m a fucking wreck all over again.  I’m tired of it.

Am I feeling this because it is the typical course of grief?  Is it because I can subconsciously or intuitively sense he is on the precipice now?  Or because I am leaving on Sunday and the disconnect will feel even greater?  The lights are on in the lobby here and I want them shut off.  The tv is on and I want it shut off.  My family is talking and I want them to stop.  I want the world to stop so I can yell so loud that it forces time to respectfully commence a backpedal.  I want to play my music so loud that it drowns out my thoughts and outweighs my feelings.  Auditory overpower.  Fuck cancer and fuck everything on this earth that causes it.

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Destined for silver lakes.

I love you.  I want you to know that we all love you, to know that due to your hand in my life I am a good man, because of your example I will be an amazing father to my daughter and future children the way you were for my brother, sisters and me.  I still fight myself in accepting your fate, I have moments of frantically grabbing at the last straws of “what if”, pleading in my mind for you to be spared.  It’s not to be.  The doctor said from the looks of it, you will be parting with us soon, possibly within days.  This cannot be, you checked into the hospital hardly a week ago!

I remember sitting on your shoulders as a boy while you ran me in circles around the house on Dover Road.  I was so worried about hitting my head on the doorways but you made sure I never did.  You were so strong and I thought you were invincible.  I had no idea this would be how things ended.  I love you so much.

I rebelled against you constantly and many men would have eventually turned their backs or coerced me physically into obedience.  Not you.  You had the firm but gentle hand and an unsurpassed patience in helping me reach my potential.  You were meant to be a father and I am so blessed to have become your son.  I love you so much.

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You’re sleeping peacefully.  Finally.  I am watching you, soaking up every detail and feature of yours because I know that within days or less, I will not have the privilege of doing this again.  How cruel time can be that one moment you are here with me, sick but still here with me and the next moment gone forever.  I’m so happy for you that you are able to rest.  What are you dreaming about?  Are you seeing where you will go once your soul is restrained no more by the weighty pull of this world?  I wish you could describe it to me.  Will you be there when your granddaughter is born?  I love you so much.

I’m afraid to fall asleep, scared of missing your last breaths but I know it’s understandable and things will be the way they will be.  I am happy to have been able say goodbye to you earlier and say the things that were in my heart.  You are Charles Dearing and you are my father.  I will never forget you.  I will always love you with a lion-like ferocity.  You will always be a part of my heart and I will tell my children stories about you, what kind of man you were, and everything you stood for.  Remember this as you journey across silver lakes to a better place.  I love you so much, pop.

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Incomprehensible. Hospice.

I rejoice at the same time that I cry.  In my core I understand this is the final act and while my heart feels hollowed out and haunted by my own grief, I cannot restrain the slow but steady swell of peace I have for my father and his circumstances.  Since making his decision to forego the painful path of treatment in favor of hospice, he has appeared more peaceful.  I cannot comprehend what he must be feeling, as confronting death truly does try our convictions, however, I imagine that making such a pivotal decision must have laid to rest at least one struggle, the struggle he fought internally over allowing nature to take it’s course or fighting on for his family.  I told him we all support his decision, love him deeply and will ensure he is given the most beautiful farewell.

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I think about what it would be like if I were so close to death and there are glimpses of terror over the physical act of separating from what I have known as life and an almost intuitive sense of optimism and acceptance because I feel that there is life after death in some capacity.  What is my dad feeling?  What is he thinking?  This is a journey reserved for him only, there is a line at which we all must stop and the moment will come where I finally have to let go of his hand and let him pass beyond the curtain that we hold open for him.  This sadness is overwhelming.  My dad is not supposed to become a memory!!  He’s my DAD and I don’t want him to go!!

I miss the hospital, for awhile it seemed like that was the way it was going to stay.  Every morning pulling up to Eisenhower Medical Center here in Palm Springs, my dad’s new bedroom being the one decorated with postcards from the lower 48 states that he and my mom have visited over the last four years as the “Happily Homeless” couple.  They even have a blog about their adventures, have been written about in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and have a FB fan page and hear from people all over the country who have spotted them on the road.  Nurses not even assigned to my dad would stop by to spend time with him and talk — my dad has always left such an impression on everybody he has met.  People just love him and it is showing now more than ever.  Yesterday, they came by to say their goodbyes.  The real goodbyes because they know my dad chose hospice and this would be the last time they ever see him.

The people working at the hospice don’t think he has much time left, given that new tumors appear in his body every few days.  My mom worked in hospice as well as bereavement facilitation, lost her mother to breast cancer within 6 months of losing her brother to Hodgkins cancer and feels the same about my dad’s time.  I wish I could stop this from happening!  I woke up this morning and kept telling myself this is a terrible dream, that dad is right outside in the living room with my mom planning what to do for the day, planning another way to appreciate and experience their most recent stop here in California.  I want those times back, I want them back for his sake — I don’t want him to be afraid and there is so much more life to experience!  He has a granddaughter due in June!

I miss every day that has passed.  I have a few days left until I have to return back home and get to work to support my girlfriend and our little sea monkey.  I can’t shirk those responsibilities but I just wish the world would stop moving until this was over.  I don’t want it to be over.  But at some point soon……..it will be.

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