This is written directly to my friend. As it may or may not apply to you, dear reader, is up to you.
Recently we visited mom in her new home. It was surprisingly nice and she was so thrilled to see us. She’s pretty frail but at 95 I was surprised how hale she is. Hauls butt around with “Johnny Walker.” Her small apartment is packed with over-sized furniture, reflective of her over-sized life; she is “The Jane” after all.
Of course there are hundreds of pictures, all of which I’ve seen many times, but this time I saw them through a different lens, one of what should have been. Pictures of a smiling happy family, mom all done up and stylish, dad dashing and the picture of the provider, kids dressed smartly and beaming. As it should be. At the same time I was aware of the undercurrents that couldn’t be seen, and all of a sudden I saw you and your family. Just the same, happy, smiling, just so. And the same undercurrents unseen, the ones that corrupt day by day, year by year, the image of what should be. It was what we were raised to believe in, the image of rightness, never tinged by sorrow, by pain.
We are so similar in this. Here is where I lived until I was 12
And here is where I always thought I would live, in a proper fashion:
You and I would live here, raise our perfect happy family here and be just so. As we were raised but without the hell of alcohol.
But life had other plans… My dad died when I was fourteen and the wave function of my path collapsed. Your dad died the year before I think. I remember that night. J.B. showed up drunk as a skunk, happy as hell – although your experience of him was quite different. Dad got him dried off and they took him downtown to the Salvation Army to dry out and then go to rehab. And as they drove off they saw in the rear-view mirror J.B. walking off into the night. The end.
I saw Scott’s memorial slideshow and I saw the same pictures my mom has. Just. The. Same! And I felt such sorrow. You worked so hard to follow the pattern, to make your life and family as it was supposed to have been, and it all fell apart. Poisoned again by alcohol. How could it happen?! It’s just not fair!
Then I wondered… What part did you play in the disintegration of your just-so life? How did the brokenness that was created in childhood inform the corruption of what should have been? I have been through this exercise myself and have found many threads of infection and how they metastasized. Have you done the same? If how you have treated me is any indication then the conclusions are pretty obvious. I can’t help but wonder, is this your true nature? I don’t think so. I think you have wandered so far away from it, drawn by the false construct of just-so.
I love the movie Mary Poppins. Watching reminded me of something in my own true nature: the scene with the bird woman and the song Feed the Birds resonates so strongly within me. It did when I was seven and it still does. My true nature: caring, simple, kind-hearted. How we have both complicated everything by our brokenness, it’s just sad. And I see how that pervasive sadness helps make me who I am. I do not resent it but embrace it.
What I wish for you is the same discovery of perspective of what-is versus just-so and your role in the wreckage of it. Own who you are and have been and think, THINK, about who you wish to become, pointing at finding and embracing your true nature. Maybe I am just projecting, but I see sensitivity and kindness in you. Now, this is so diametrically opposed to how you have treated me but I refuse to believe it. I want to think the best of you even when the evidence shows otherwise. It is my nature… I guess that my great frustration is not knowing if I’m right about you. My intuition tells me one thing but your behavior tells another. And my need to know will not, it seems, be fulfilled.
Mourn the Just-so but don’t dwell on it. It’s gone. Honor it by examining how it has made you who you are and if there are aspects you don’t like (“I’m a shitty friend”) then do better. Take risks, push the envelope, be vulnerable. Use that fine mind God gave you and take a long look at yourself. I hope you see what I do…