Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Another Buzzkilling Blogpost From Peter

I have been haunted recently by a song I can't get out of my head; the overload is Gilbert O'Sullivan's Alone Again, Naturally. The second and third verses are almost frighte
ning to me; they too closely parallel my own experience with respect to my parents' illnesses and deaths. Please bear with me; I have just under a season to go before the first anniversary of my mother's death, and I have a long way to go before I can "get over it..."

In a little while from now
If I'm not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top will throw myself off
In an effort to make it clear to whoever
What it's like when you're shattered
Left standing in the lurch at a church
Where people saying: "My God, that's tough"
"She stood him up"
"No point in us remaining"
"We may as well go home"
As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to who wouldn't do
The role I was about to play?
But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt
Talk about God in His mercy
Who if He really does exist
Why did He desert me?
In my hour of need
I truly am indeed
Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that there are more hearts
Broken in the world that can't be mended
Left unattended
What do we do? What do we do?

Alone again, naturally

Looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears
And at sixty-five years old
My mother, God rest her soul
Couldn't understand why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken
Leaving her to start with a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken
And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally

Aerial View of Headquarters

The tower on the left in this photo is the main building of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. From late 1988 through the spring of 1990, I worked there with the maintenance contractor, first as an attendant in the parking garage, then as supervisor of the other two attendants. The job included other duties as assigned; I had access to much of the building, including the roof. In early 1990, my fiancée returned to her mother after a long, mutually abusive relationship with me. It messed up my mind; I fell into a deep depression that nearly cost me my life.

Every day for two weeks or so I would go to the roof and stand at the edge (right in the middle where the dark "stripe" is in the picture). I would think about jumping every time, but every time something held me back. Some days it was the wind; some days it was my concern for how some people in my life might be hurt. The last day I went to the roof's edge, I was resolute. It was on; the wind was at my back; I didn't care about anything but dying. I was standing at the edge; I took a deep breath that I believed would be my last. I looked down to make sure I wouldn't land on anyone coming out or going in the front door; that was a big mistake.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a man with a video camera on his shoulder, standing just outside the entrance to the White Flint Metro Station; he was recording me! As public as my venue was, the act was supposed to be between me and the concrete. Visions flashed through my mind of my morbid sister watching Faces of Death VI, or whatever number, and her seeing me splat. I couldn't let that happen: EPIPHANY! I still cared! I flipped the cameraman the bird, turned around and went back inside. I have never been close to the edge since.

I prayed a lot when my father fell ill; I was hoping the doctors would figure out what the problem was and cure him. When it became clear that there was little chance of that happening, I prayed for a miracle. When the doctors determined that my father probably had ALS--with few treatment options and the most grim prognosis--my prayers shifted toward wishes that my father would not suffer too much emotionally as he lay dying. My prayers for my mother were always the same; I wanted her to know she was not alone, and I wanted her to be strong enough to cope. That remained the case after Daddy died.

When Mommy got the diagnosis of cancer, I didn't know what to think or pray or believe. (When we were en route to Houston for my father's last appointment with the specialist, I had almost prayed that my brother would wreck the minivan, killing my mother and father together.) When she went into the hospital several days after my second son was born, I didn't want a miracle. (On the Fourth of July we had gotten together for a cookout and fireworks; my brother-in-law was telling my mom that she was too strong--there was "no way" she wouldn't beat the cancer. I had to bite my tongue; I suspect Mommy was doing the same.) She was suffering on all levels; living was prolonging the agony and misery she did not deserve.

I still get lonesome whenever I think about my parents, but I have too much going on to be lonely, and I have too many people around to be alone ever again. Naturally. Thanks for your time...

No comments: