Keeping me alive

Do you remember dad? That time you came to my room when I was sad, or in trouble, or whatever it was and I told you I didn’t believe in God? Your eyes got big like they do when you’re angry (which isn’t often), but you asked me how I thought everything got here–the sun, the trees, the grass. I told you about the dying people–children starving in Africa–why didn’t God help them? You got so angry. You pulled your arm back like you were going to hit me, but you didn’t. I was only 11 or 12. And I’m still that same person. I’m still wondering where God is when people are suffering. I believe. I’m just skeptical. And I understand that people believe in what gives them comfort

I listened every night to the sound of the tv in the living room because you’d always fall asleep watching tv. Before we had cable, I’d hear the star spangled banner and then the static. It would wake you up and I’d hear you get up and go to bed. I could never sleep after you went to bed. I still sleep with the tv on.

Do you remember, dad? When mom and I would have another fight and I’d stay in my room all the time? Do you remember coming to my room, asking to come in and talk to me and telling me you loved me? That kept me alive, dad. It kept me going and fighting and helped me become the person I am.

I haven’t always been nice to you, dad. But, those quiet visits, those times when you showed up, hugged me and told me you loved me? They kept me alive.

I need you to keep doing that, dad. I need you to keep telling me you love me. I need you to help me keep fighting.

I’ll never forget when I OD’d, dad. I was in ICU all weekend. Every time I opened my eyes, you were there.

You’ve kept me alive, dad. I want to do the same for you.

But, I understand that cancer may be stronger than me. But, you helped me to be strong. I’m trying.

Don’t ask me how I am

I don’t say much. I write it. That’s how I communicate. I don’t know why. But, I know I’m not alone.

If you’re only asking how I am because that’s what you do, I’ll tell you I’m fine. I’ll tell you I’m fine every day. If you should sit down with me, look me in the eye, and ask how I am, there’s a very good chance I’ll start crying.

I’m not well. I’m not doing well. I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to do to be well, but I’m still not well.

I’ve reached a magical age when past, present, and future are all colliding. I’ve spent years hoping to escape the past by pretending it didn’t happen; I’ve attempted, in vain, to live in the present, and I’ve effectively glorified the future as though it will somehow, magically take the past away. And, I’ve now met future after future and it didn’t magically erase anything.

I, I, I. It’s so terribly selfish. So, if you want to know how I am? Ask as though you don’t really care and I’ll tell you I’m fine.

Sit me down, look me in the eye, and ask how I really am?

Be prepared for a very long conversation and tears. I’m not well, but I don’t want to be a burden either, so just trust me when I say I’m fine.

I’m fine.