Family, Death, and Depression
As things are at the moment, I sit at my makeshift computer desk having completed another successful week of teaching. My little girl is off with family. My wife is at work. I am all alone in our quaint little home and relatively relaxed, relatively satisfied.
I glance at the calendar. On the date October 12 is written a single, purposefully vague word: start. In the 13’s box is another very purposeful, vague symbol: a single line drawn perpendicularly from one perimeter to the other. The lonely, satisfied (relatively) day that I am writing to you now is the 14th.
It’s been a good week. I am a man who wears many hats these days. I do a bit for my family financially with a supplementary income as an adjunct professor, and that takes up much of my Mondays through Thursdays. My current schedule keeps Fridays free, and this is when I often pursue my other very, very supplementary income of writing.
My wife brings home the bacon, as they say. She’s an RN, and as things are in the teaching profession, it just makes more sense financially for her to be the primary bread winner and me to devote the largest portion of my time to another job: homemaking, and this homemaking involves all manner of activities, from cooking and cleaning to woodworking to fix-it work to the list never ends, but more than anything, this time is taken up with looking after that wondrous little girl of mine.
Anyway, I digress. Let’s go back to this Thursday afternoon, shall we. That sounds ominous. Sorry, I’m not trying to be ominous, at least not yet. In fact, Thursday was a glorious time for this little family of ours. It was the day that Mommy, Daddy, and baby got to meet our newest family member through the miracle of ultrasound.
There he or she danced for us, just a little gummy bear, large oversized head, tiny body, and little nubs where arms, hands, and feet will develop in the upcoming months. And the hardest thing for me to fathom as our little girl or boy flops around for us on this 10 by 10inch screen is that this whole thing is amplified in size so much. The child we see in front of us isn’t even the size of an acorn yet.
The midwife saved my favorite part for last, listening to that heart pitter-patter 160 beats a minute. I could sleep to that sound. What is adulthood if not a continual carrying of baggage. It’s like when I hear that sound I can just sat all that baggage down and finally relax for a moment.
And back to today, the 14th. I sit alone, relatively content, type, type, typing away. But the problem with relative contentment is that you have relative everything else: sadness, anger, feelings of inadequacy, and it’s small and with me it balls up at the base of my skull, right about where the spine attaches to the head, and it whispers constantly. Eventually it makes me fidget. It makes me look at the vague symbols on the calendar. It tells me about a way I might feel better, if only for a short time.
Yesterday evening we got home from the hospital, and I turned on the football game. The San Diego Chargers were playing the Denver Broncos, neither being teams I particularly care about, but it was of interest because of the bit of remarkable luck the Chargers had been enduring. Despite obviously being a talented team, they had blown 4 straight fourth quarter leads, losing one game to the Kansas City Chiefs that they had led by 21 points. Just an unheard of thing in the NFL. Like most of the country, I watched the game to see if this train wreck might continue. My interest wasn’t out of meanness, at least at the time. It was the absurdity of it. Could this streak possibly continue?
The Chargers had amassed an 18point lead late in the fourth quarter when, true to form, things started to fall apart. It began harmlessly enough when Denver scored a touchdown, pulling within 11. Then a couple of ineffective drives by the Chargers, and a field goal by the Broncos, closing the lead to a single touchdown and a two-point conversion.
Still, there was so little time left. Denver would have to recover an onside kick, and that…and just like that, they recovered an onside kick. I laughed, and it was at this point I saw something that I’d never seen before, not from a coach, and sure as hell not in the NFL.
There is the beleaguered coach Mike McCoy: blonde hair, soft features, kindly face. There is a way that 90% of all coaches look. Mike McCoy does not fit that prototype. Next thing I know he goes down to one knee and puts his head in his hands. With the lead! With the other team still two phenomenal plays away from even tying the thing! He goes down to his knees, head in hands, and begins to cry!!
And then I start this bizarre internal dialogue that, though obviously of me, seemed foreign.
What the f***! Coaches don’t do that! P***y! Coaches don’t do that! Do you want me to feel sorry for you! I hope you f***ing die you f***ing pussy! I hope someone comes over and kicks you in the balls! I hope you keep losing like this! I hope your luck never turns around! I hope all your children and parents and relatives die, and I hope you have to sit there and watch the whole f***ing thing with that slack jawed stupid expression you always seem to have on your face, and you f***ing deserve it!
It was at this point a large, muscular hand gently descended to coach McCoy’s shoulder. There was something almost Godly about it. Comfort from above, a we are not alone sort of feeling, and then I began to cry.
Nobody deserves a run of luck like this. That’s why we’re all watching. The whole thing is just so f***ing absurd.
I sit here typing today, and just wanting to be done, wanting to do what I do to make life tolerable.
A hernia operation. A simple procedure. The same procedure my father had that led to the discovery of his lung cancer and then his death. A cursed surgery in this family.
When my mother went in to have her hernia fixed, nobody thought she’d die. It was a happy time in our life. When the surgery was done, my wife and I were going to move in to help with her convalescence. Our daughter was going to get to spend lots of time with her Grandmother. Any other children we had were going to get to spend lots of time with their Grandmother.
Then one complication and another and another and another. And there I am at her bedside crying into my hand for a God that, as usual, is noticeably absent. And leave God entirely out of the equation, which I usually do, the absurdity of losing two parents shortly after hernia surgeries. If I chose to believe in a God that gives a s**t, I would have no other choice than to come to the conclusion that he f***ing hates me!
But as I sit here alone typing, relatively content, thinking about all the feelings, all the contradictory thoughts, trying to find a logic I can string through my whole existence that will somewhat hold up and dealing with the tension and the whispers at the base of my skull, yet more absurdity: I’m lucky. Nobody should feel sorry for me.
I have the most wonderful wife in the world to spend my life with. I have the most wonderful daughter in the world. I have another little one on the way. There’s a roof over our heads and food in the kitchen. Why can’t I appreciate this the way I should?
And my gaze goes back to the calendar. And I feel lonely and sad and bored again. It’s never amped up quite like this before. Vodka bottles hidden in closets, telling myself that I’m drinking for any reason other than getting s**tfaced drunk. What has always been such a lovely pastime has turned into an obsession, a compulsion, a way to escape from the torture of spending time with myself in a state unaltered.
Three days, really? Three days! I can’t make it three f***ing days? It’s never been like this before.