Sunday, May 17, 2009


I keep on getting onto the internet, with the notion that somehow I'll find meaning for utilizing it. That said, it devolves into Facebook picks and quizzes, with the occasional excursion onto Hulu or whatever will serve that same purpose of passive entertainment.

I had terrible problems with internet addiction growing up. I used to spend hours doing what teenage boys do with unsupervised access, and drown myself in the mess of introversion and delusion of the AOL chatroom. It took a maddening, damaging relationship to get over it, thus swapping one series of hangups for another instead of resolving either of them.

As I've dealt with enough of the relationship's issues to grow from them and resolve most of the internal conflicts, I find myself falling into patterns that preceded its inception, as if returning to the paradigm of my adolescence. I miss my epic RPGs, my jaunts to the forest and losing myself into the media of the time. It took ten years, but I have finally afforded myself the opportunity to feel my mother's death. I finally feel the anger and the imbalance of it, the "injustice" if you dare. Why couldn't I have a traditional mother figure? Why did I escape from the world instead of embrace it during her illness? Who could I have been if she had the capability to be more involved in my life? Why wasn't I one of those strong, stoic children we see on TV who immediately becomes responsible and comes through it admirably, instead of the dissociative, escapist man-child sitting here right now?

It took a while for me to figure out that our expectations of strength remain disproportionate in comparison to the challenge of the psychological trauma. Here's the story.

I watched my mother's physical capability slowly drag her down and smash her spirit, to the point that I just wished she'd die, some days. I wished that she and I could have arranged her death; something merciful so that we could get all of her affairs in order and so that we could spend some time finishing her business of life so that she could depart feeling complete, using some gentle, painless method. Our society and legal system frown on that, and so I was stuck, watching her body grow weaker and weaker, each day more and more painful for her, changing her adult diapers and patching up bedsores on a woman who, by rights, should have had at least 40 more years before those subjects even would come to mind. So, on May 5, 1999 I woke up to hear my dad making a frantic 911 call (in his measured, unfailingly logical way. You want my family in your corner when shit hits the fan). I watched from the balcony as my mom tried to mumble out some words and went limp. I think at that point I went into shock. I remember the EMTs coming in and trying to resuscitate her on our living room floor, and one of them indirectly telling someone to tell me to put on a shirt. I put on my black Clockwork Orange shirt and still watched in shock, wondering when she was going to spring back to life from the defib pads. They took her out on a stretcher and I got dressed so that my dad and I could get to the hospital. We were both very quiet and solemn, if despondent. I remember my dad saying "Well... looks like you're not going to school today." as a form of gallows humor. That was typical of my family. We're still Scotsmen, underneath it all.

We were paged into a waiting room. We... kind of knew, at that point. I don't know what we felt at that time. I think my emotions just left. A doctor who looked like the Bizarro version of Newt Gingrich (being that he appeared friendly and compassionate) came into the waiting room to tell us that they did all that they could, and that by the time she was at the hospital, she had already passed. He told us that they couldn't do an autopsy, since her MS was so progressed that they couldn't get any accurate data. I would obsess over that for years, but it'd be like trying to figure out who shot whom in a charge on a trench in WWI. My dad and I sat for a while, and we eventually went to see my mother's body. Rigor mortis had set in, so her lips peeled back to bare her teeth. Thankfully, the hospital folks had closed her eyes at this point. I touched her hand: the drop in her temperature had caused condensation to form, and I'll never forget that sensation. I watched my dad try to close her mouth and push down her lips to no avail, until he placed a single kiss on her forehead. We went for coffee in Hockessin after we left. I don't remember the rest of the day.

Trying to be that stoic kid, I went to school the next day. The guidance counselor made a big fuss, which was the last thing I wanted. So, all day teachers were asking me if I was okay, when in truth, I was in shock and just trying to make sense of things. I went on a date and we held the funeral on Mother's Day, which I didn't realize fucked me up until much later (I put a Mother's Day card in her coffin). I mean... I know why we do viewings and all, but I found the makeup and dressing her up so gaudy and needless. It became a stupid carnival instead of recognizing death. The painted corpse wasn't my dead mom, just some tarted up carcass people could look at. I saw my dead mom, with her rictus and pale, cold skin. I hid in my room and viciously necked with the poor, pretty, vapid girl that my friend had the best intentions of setting me up with during the wake. This wouldn't be the only relationship begun at a funeral for me. It fizzled out after a season after I found that I just could not talk to this girl. We were on two totally different planets most of the time, and I don't think I even really liked her, and she thought I was the bee's freakin' knees. That just... sucked.

We spread her ashed at Lum's Pond that summer. I felt the bits of bone as I doled out her ashes into the lake. My dad told me that I didn't have to reach in, but in a way, I kind of did. After all the ashes were dispensed, a rainstorm rolled in like a curtain, drenching us in our canoe. Ever since, I have loved the rain and the overcast sky. It wasn't the sun beaming down like the Polyphonic Spree, but the crack of thunder and the onslaught of water that reminded me what it was to live.

Later I had dead neighbors who "... smell sssso bad," and meeting a girlfriend's family at her father's funeral. I've had death tied tightly with other things. I can't hold it so closely any more. It isn't helping me exist. I won't get any more answers by holding onto it so tightly. I won't be okay for a while, and I sure as fuck won't be average, but I can at least see that "okay" will happen.

1 comment:

stef said...

oh ben.
you may not believe me, but i think you're doing fine.