Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Loss is a funny thing in the Johniverse.  It has always seemed like there was so much of it in my life.  Every new beginning had an end, and sometimes not very long after the beginning.  I never had to deal with loss in the mortality sense until my ex-wife perished of cancer in 2002.  That was hard enough, because despite the acrimony of our divorce and the 15 years it took to bury the hatchet, if there was such a thing in my life as a soul mate, I truly think it was her.

Dad died in 2006.  While he and I were not close, we were not estranged.  I hadn't felt the loss of him at once.  His passing was like (and forgive me if this seems callous, it's really not) passing a place where a painting used to hang.  I know that one was there because of the discoloration on the wall, but I can't remember what it portrayed.

But my sense of loss has been growing.  We didn't talk often, but we managed to say hello and chat once a year at the very least.  I can still hear his voice and his laughter in my head, but it's finally coming to roost that my ears will never hear it again.

Dad's death was expensive in other ways too.  My sister and I had a fight in my mother's home a day or two before the memorial.  It was the last straw for me.  I never really liked her much as a person but always felt the commitment of blood.  What she said to me was inexcusable, really.  I've forgiven her for her hateful remarks -- grief is a powerful, unpredictable thing -- but I really have no interest in speaking to her again.  

My brother and I have the same relationship as I had with Dad: not estranged, but not in communication either.  I don't speak to Dan unless he's in front of me.  And in the last decades, I can count those occasions on a single hand.

Lately I've been feeling orphaned.  In 1980 I left Denver and my family and have continued to move farther and farther Away.  I've never been able to get back frequently; there was once more than a decade before I could make the trip.  Things were bad in the family during that time.  Dad's father was being monstrous and creating chaos and harm and I felt inclined to keep my daughter (and me) protected in our Ivory Tower in a suburb of Minneapolis.

Yesterday, for the first time in months, I tried to call my mom and got the robot of her answering machine.  It felt like being slapped.  It's not that I expect Mom to languish by the phone waiting for me to call, but...I do.  She called back about an hour later, but I was at work and the phone was in the car anyway, so I couldn't take the call.

In the time since I called her around Mother's Day, she has not called me once.  I really don't know what her relationship with my siblings is like at all.  I know they have the luxury of being only four hours away by car, where my car trip is 17 hours.  I know that my sister is quite dependent on Mom, so they speak often and she visits frequently too.  I know that my brother goes down when he can to help her with things.

I'm writing this not to be maudlin, but to try to get it out of my system.  Where my family is concerned, I feel quite deserted.  I find myself having thoughts like, when Mom finally goes to her reward, will I even bother to go to her funeral?  As I've said before, I'm pretty good at manufacturing my own closure.  And I certainly wouldn't go back for the purpose of mourning with my family.  It would feel like a wedding I went to once, where I was the only person of the bride's former social sphere that got invited and I knew no one else.  My joy for her was great, and I had no one to with whom share it.

And I guess this is no different really.  Here I am sharing this grief with strangers right now.

I should mention, as an added complication to these feelings, that the high school friend with whom I'd been exchanging email has not replied to my last missive.  It's been ten days.  

I guess that's that.

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