This week I turned 55. I sent an appeal to the Social Security people about my denial of benefits. They seem to think that a man who can't sit for very long, or stand for very long, or who has only done drafting all his adult life, can somehow be retrained and start a whole new career without sitting around in a drugged up haze. These are the same people who thought Sadam had huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons. I'm not too worried that they won't eventually see the way of things and since I did pay into an account that included disability insurance I'm not too weirded out by the idea of taking money for doing nothing. I did something for years: worked in pain. I've gotten to a point where I really don't want to do that any more. The pills may be screwing up my liver as my enzyme numbers are sky high and we are trying to find the culprit. Need to achieve a balence, ya know?
Well, a strange thing happened to me the other day. I was suddenly granted a glimpse of the emotions of finding out you will be living alone for the rest of your life. I'm serious. I was meditating on things in the afternoon, as I do sometimes when I've been good and have time to sit, or actually pace since I don't sit much. I suddenly felt this wave of emotion as I thought about making sure I ate that lunch, and took my pills. I thought about making sure I cleaned the floor sometime soon before the dust Freddies got too big. Then I realized that someday either my sweetheart or myself would be older and being in that room thinking the same thoughts. Maybe this was a gestalt experience with a future self, but the sheer lonliness of it all hit me. I can't be sure of it but it felt very real. I sat for awhile and considered it. How my darlin girl would feel one Saturday morning puttering around, picking up my stuff and putting them into boxes. She has done that sort of thing with her mother and with Larry, but I know that where my things are concerned it would hurt her even more, and I was wondering what I could do so that the pain was less. Could I leave a note somewhere I figured she'd find it? Could something I say make her smile and remember me fondly? Or would anything just break her down?
Then I wondered about me walking around packing up her things. Being a shaman has some advantages in that talking to the dead is not that hard and getting answers is not unknown. But still, talking to the dead of the ones you loved that much.... that can be painful too. Then I considered my old heart, starting to get all out of whack with too many of this and that floating around in the blood. Would Her being gone take me out too, or would I just pad around the yard and house feeling empty and alone? Terribly sad thoughts and yet needed to be felt, because these things happen. Popes die, freinds die and the love of your life sometimes dies. I know people going through all that and it hurts, because even a hug won't stop the pain. You hang on to the pain because it's all you have left of them.
So there you are, in your familiar house surrounded by familiar things, and everything is different. Like the color green has been snatched from your universe, everything is different. The other day a very good friend of ours casually told us that she had had a "non-fatal heart failure". We were stunned. I have been trying to think of what I can say in a letter or a phone call that would tell this girl how much her friendship and even love, has meant to us and to me especially. I knew her since before I met my sweetheart and she was always good with a smile or a hug, always there when I was really beat up. Her husband and I had many a great adventure and many a long laugh. They both mean a great deal to me and our close friends: Larry started coming to Thanksgiving and going to our friend's house just like family. Just like we are family. So how do I deal with the idea that this young, smart and gentle lady might leave her husband and sweet daughters and travel on that dark journey? How do I think about that funny guy sitting in a bedroom one night holding her gown and sobbing? I guess you don't think about it that much. You think about holding him closer and telling him that she's just around the corner and hope that it helps.
I hope if the time comes he will do the same for me. In the meantime we take our meds, write our letters and wonder why all the death lately? Why the sudden upswing of awareness of these mortal thoughts when over in Africa there are thousands doing it every day? Maybe a door of perception has opened up or a window anyway. Maybe I caught a whiff of the pain around the world and I just happened to in the right frame of mind to realize what it was. I do know I plan to hug a lot more and sit a lot less.