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Death, cliches, and other things

There was never any good old days
They are today, they are tomorrow
It’s a stupid thing we say
Cursing tomorrow with sorrow

Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready for a training video I got a startling text some my middle son. It read simply “Dad died.”

I think because we are all kind of like that, with the dark humor- and Matthew was definitely not exception, he followed it quickly with, “This isn’t a joke.”

After doing my best to make sure that he was at least as okay as he could be, I called my ex’s mother. He and I had had a complex relationship and by complex, I mean that it had gotten pretty nasty for a time. At this point, though, we’d been talking back and forth, both of us had come to a point where we were in the process of getting our shit together after the break up. There had been some custody issues which delayed the divorce and I knew that meant there were things I had to do.

My feelings yesterday and still today, are really complicated but one thing that isn’t, is the grief. I mentioned yesterday that I often feel that people need to grow up when it comes to how they deal with breakups, particularly with children: and we both had. It really wasn’t easy to get there, but ultimately- the thing is, you do what’s best for your kids. Not your ego. Matthew had been taking very serious steps in that direction. He hadn’t been thrilled, at first, when his new pain management doctor took him off of the pain pills in 2016 but, the last time we spoke, he was excited because they were going to do the surgery he could never get approved here.

Everyone keeps asking me how I feel, if I’m alright, all the things you ask- except the thing is, the only thing I can really say honestly is: “I don’t know.” I was thrilled for him when he talked about the possibility of the surgery which he felt might give him a chance at living without pain. Listening to his mother, who is going through the un-imaginable and only trying to focus on making sure my son was okay- thinking about all of that, the overwhelming feeling is one of grief.

I keep thinking about the day the doctor told him, up here, that he couldn’t have the surgery because he was “too young”. (Whatever that means. We didn’t know then and I still don’t. It particularly makes no sense now.) Frankly, this pisses me off more than I can say, right now. It did, then, too. I remember we visited one of his uncles who’d had the surgery- and he’d told us, we should push for it. We did, but it never did any good.

For the past 8 years or so, Matthew has slept in a chair. He had compressed discs and other issues associated with that, which made it difficult to walk and uncomfortable to sleep in a bed. His mother found him, slumped in his chair, where he’d died in his sleep, apparently. (We don’t know what caused it, yet.)

I’m not trying to pretend that he and I had some kind of perfect relationship- anyone who knows us knows that was far from true. I couldn’t think of anything to say on his memorial page, so I started posting photos and encouraged others to do the same. Because the thing is: right now? That’s really what matters. What I am about to say, I wouldn’t say in the company of anyone else who loved him- so if you’re reading this and you do: I’m sorry, but I am not sorry, in a way. I posted photos of Matthew doing Matthew things, doing the things he loved. A close mutual friend, she did the same- because that’s how she wanted to remember him. It is very much the same with me.

The past two years, we have either lost people close to us or almost did in some really crazy numbers. For the most part, most of these have been elderly loved ones. I am in no way saying that’s not painful- but, in a way, it is, however, something more expected. It’s these unexpected things that are swift kicks to the gut: and between my current partner’s almost dying and hospitalization last year and now this? Matthew was 37.

Matthew often talked about the things he wanted to do. All of his “some days”. Looking through old photos of him, thinking about everything he talked about but would never get to do now, I mean, sure. I want to be in line with the people who talk about how he’s no longer in pain and he’s at peace. I do. I can’t. When I sat with Kurt while he was in a medically induced coma for a week: believe me, I had similar thoughts. It isn’t the more soothing version, I know: but both of them were very big on “The Good Ol Days” and frankly, this both breaks my heart and it pisses me off. Because inevitably, those who are hung up on the good ol days are also prone to “some days” and all the things they will “one day” do.

Matthew wasn’t like that before his back began to get bad. I have never blamed him for feeling beaten down by that- not ever. Please don’t get me wrong, even at our worst: that is not something I would wish on anyone. And watching someone who was very much a TODAY type of person sink into Tomorrows while ruminating on Yesterdays– was more hurtful than any bad thing we’d ever say to one another. Not out of disappointment in him, but for him. I knew that wasn’t how he’d wanted to live. There is, a bit of peace in knowing that he is no longer stuck in that- but not very much. He seemed to be moving back into Today– and that was a large part of why I spent yesterday bawling and baffled. What he was trying to do is never easy under those circumstances. Chronic pain brings with it tremendous frustration and this morning, responding to a message from a dear friend he’d always intended to travel with- it just really brought that home.

I don’t particularly care whatever transpired between us: looking through the photos of the Yesterdays, talking with others and telling stories of them- that is now all he has and just the week before, just the day before, even with what he was dealing with, I think he and all of us assumed there would be plenty more Tomorrows.

There is a time when there won’t be, for all of us.










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