Archive for the ‘disease’ Category
It’s Movember, and you know what that means, it’s that time of year when a man’s heart turns to his prostate, testicles, and mental health. And so should you!
This year the boys and I are all growing moustaches to raise awareness and donations for Movember—a campaign that has shown incredible progress toward finding cures and saving the men in our lives. A single dollar donation might be the one that saves your father, husband, brother, son, boyfriend, cousin, neighbor, uncle, grandfather, football hero, boy band member, grocer, soldier, teacher, firefighter, hairstylist, actor, blogger, so forth and so on. Or it might save you.
The bottom line is our top lip, and you can help save every single man you have ever met. There are worse ways to spend a buck.
There are flowers on the table and bourbon on my breath. The dogs are draped to either side of my sore, swollen feet, and the air is filled with the sounds of strings gently weeping. The boys fell asleep in a matter of seconds.
The room is mine to use as I please, and I please to use it for drinking brown liquor and forcing my words onto screens once paper and straight on till morning. Something will snag. Something will tear. Participles will dangle everywhere. And then the words will rush through to other ears and those places where my thoughts have wandered. They will be as out of context as everything, and it is the thought that counts.
Follow them if you must, but they will be back eventually, most likely to haunt me. They’ll show up bearing flowers, their roots but a memory, and I will put them on the table like I promised that I would. Nobody looks past the petals when they have a drink in their hand.
All I can carry is this emptiness, as burdensome as a millstone, and as helpless as a shadow. It is the wait of a phone due to ring and the call you never want to get.
There is nothing left but to answer it.
The players all looked at me, ready to hang on my every word. They had no idea that I had never given a halftime talk before. They only knew that we were in the locker room of my old junior high school, and that I had a whistle around my neck.
They didn’t know that I had never played basketball for my school—or any sport, for any school. In fact, the closest I ever came was two glorious weeks on the track team.
My friends and I were asked to turn in our uniforms after we missed a meet. We had been in the locker room seeing who could spin a discus the longest and impressing each other with our favorite celebrity impersonations. I was right in the middle of my Doug Henning when the coach came in and told us to wait on the bus. Needless to say, I was not a jock, and it would only be a matter of weeks before I took center stage in the school production of whatever it was and never looked back.
I glanced at the head coach to make sure I had heard him correctly. He nodded and I took a breath. The floor was mine.
“I grew up here,” I said. “I’ve known their head coach my entire life.
“This was my gym. I went to my first dance here. I kissed a girl somewhere around the free throw line. It wasn’t that long ago that I was you, and moments like this would last forever. Every game was the big game.”
The room was quiet and the boys were anxious. I had no idea where I was going with this, and the other coaches knew it.
I proceeded to have an incredibly awkward one-sided conversation with a room full of teenage boys about things that had nothing to do with basketball. I painted a picture of my own (also) awkward youth and appealed to whatever sympathies their parents had planted in them. It may have been the worst halftime speech ever given, and by the time it ended I was sweating far more than the players.
We lost the game, and I was never asked to give another pep talk the rest of the season.
I was, admittedly, embarrassed—not because of the game, but because I had used their moment as some sort of therapy session I never knew I needed. I feared that I had lost whatever respect they may have had for me.
We had been in Seattle about a month. It was just the two of us, a good dog, and a decent record collection. We sold the records, bought some furniture, and invested in the moment.
There would be kids in the future, but the first wouldn’t arrive for another four years. There would be other dogs and more cats, but before you can have more of anything you must start with one, and so it was that Tricia found an ad in the paper, drove to a house far away that was filled with fleas and felines, scooped up a little white kitten, and brought him home to stay.
The cat, we quickly determined, was a psycho, and by the end of the day we had named him Norman for cinematic reasons. We fed him, loved him, and locked the door whenever we showered.
We spent the next few years sliding around the map, logging hours in moving trucks while Norman slept inside whatever sweater Tricia was wearing. He didn’t care for the ride, but he adapted quickly to the relative destination. He split his days between homebody and grand adventure.
He was aloof and would disappear for warm days at a time, only to take his winters between bedclothes and unsuspecting laps. He was loyal and would follow us whenever we tried to walk anywhere, which led us to begin more than one trip by climbing out the window. He was mean and would beat on other cats for slights he only imagined, and he wore his ripped ear and toothless grin like a badge of honor. He was patient and kind, letting two small boys and their friends carry him around like a sack of rag dolls.
Thirteen years is a fairly long haul for a cat on the go, and upon arriving at our current residence Norman decided to retire from his role of lovable scoundrel and concentrate all of his time to cleaning himself on the comforter. Also, sleeping.
A few nights ago Norman stretched himself across Tricia’s body, meowed in annoyance every time she stopped petting him, then pushed his face against hers and purred them both to sleep. It was his way of saying goodbye.
Sometime in the night Norman went out the patio door, past the litter box, and into the wild where he rarely ventured. He found himself a dark, quiet spot, and he died.
At least that is what we are telling ourselves. He was only outside a few minutes before Tricia checked on him, but by then he was already gone. There are coyotes and birds of prey in the area, but the portion of patio he used is fenced, mostly covered, and on the second floor. His going into the night was his own doing, and he did it with purpose. However, we have yet to find that dark, quiet spot, or any trace of him at all. We suspect, due to a handful of dots we didn’t connect until it was too late, that he may have suffered from rather sudden kidney failure. We do know that he was free from pain, and his life was long and happy.
We have dedicated days to searching for him, taking calculated steps and calling his name, letting hope keep the tears at bay, but too much time has passed and too far a distance has been covered. We have waited, but I fear the wait is over.
This is our way of saying goodbye.
It is warmer here, and there is a time difference. I have a headache and a suit in the closet. The room is free of pets and children, along with their respective dander and infectious laughter. It is a quiet, white room with white, sun-faded curtains. The suit is black and it is time to put it on.
The next room is bright and full of color. There is music in the background and stains of steam clinging to windows still wet with morning. There is a mirror deep with reflection and in it stands a man with a tie in his hands, wondering which one she would have preferred. He will make a steady knot with shaking hands, and he will take several deep breathes. Then he will drive a mile to bury his wife.
I understand there will be bagpipes. I think she would have liked that.