How could I forgive him? You steam and foam at the mouth, Mother, as you spit the ultimate question. What single saintly act was so profound as to erase one thousand other acts that when patched together form the picture of your permanent sorrow? And how could I forgive him for making me merely one more piece in his plan against you? I was a throwaway pawn, I’d known that all along; the last child to leave you for him. Ironically, he was also my pawn in the game…the strategy that was supposed to set me free and put you in check; at least I tried.
“Get him out of here!” you cry. He’s dead and gone! Don’t resurrect him now!”
You’d waited decades for his glorious passing. Did your sorrow go up in the smoke of his cremation, as you so hoped? Did your air get a little cleaner when he stopped breathing it? How could I forgive him? He stomped on our hearts and stole our future. How could I forgive you? You took every ounce of his pain and passed it around; it was too much for one person to choke down. How could I forgive myself? I spent decades drinking the both of you out of my vision, kicking my liver and my brain like it was their fault. My children hide. My wife cries. The beagle has taken up residence under the television stand.
Now, Mother, all three of us stand over this cesspool of tears, three beautiful losers, throwing stones into it, distorting our own reflections.
Why should I take the lead now in cleaning the mess? Tell me, Mother, why?
Now we’re standing at this murky pond of the past:
“Been awhile, hasn’t it, Kay?” He grins like a guilty schoolboy.
You look away in determined silence, tapping one foot, furious that I’d dragged you both together. He looks right at you, knowing that his eyes are burning right through you. He becomes Charlie Chaplin and trips over himself for your bitter amusement, falling to his knees:
“Oh, my darling Kay, why have you run away?” Da-da-dum-da-dum-dee-dum
You turn and offer derisive applause, with renewed conviction that this clown is to blame for your every tear, your every twitch.
He grabs you by a leg while he’s down on bended Chaplin knee and pulls you into the pool of tears, dragging you deep. You kick and scream and struggle for air. He’s not letting go. He didn’t go up in a puff of smoke after all. The crazed killer of dreams has come to call from depths unknown. Your eyes leap from their sockets. Your extra hold hair floats away from your head like thousands of desperate fingers clawing at the surface. Your cakeup floats away from your face, clouding any possible escape. Your heart begins to beat again.
“I knew it!” you cry as you feel the bottom with your feet; I knew it: words for your final exit. You gave half of every day to knowing he’d return to take you down, force you to taste that first drunken smack again. You didn’t know when, you didn’t know how, but you knew it to be true. What you didn’t know was that he was always in your shadow; you yourself invited him. I stand on the muddy shore and allow the crime. I brought you here; this was part of my plan, for both of our sakes.
Dad often discussed the state of affairs between the two of you:
“Jay, it’s been over thirty years. She said she was only going out for milk and bread. Do you think she’s coming back? I was thinking of dating again, but I want to be sure.”
I’d roar with laughter while he did a drum roll in mid air, beaming with his inimitable goofy grin.
Perhaps I should be a little harder on the guy; his comedy only had merit in the moments long after the dreams he’d broken were swept away and all but forgotten; long after the blood had dried and the dust had settled on yesterday, covering it in a blanket, putting it to sleep so that we could peek in on it from time to time without fear.
But Mother, Dear Mother, you wear yesterday like a slave’s collar! The weight of it chokes you and pulls you closer to the dust from which you came and to which we all return. There is precious little time now, Mother. Tear it from your neck! Toss it into the pond and let it sink and be seen no more! Make a break from the chain gang and run to the hills! Let time forgive you, as it has me, for tossing it to the wind and assuming it would always be there while we played blame games and hung our loathing like a dream catcher, becoming tangled alas in our own nets.