deleted [TW]

[This poem was written in the middle of the night when things were pretty dark and I was very unstable in February this year. I don’t feel the same way now, at least not in the stark and unflinching way as when I wrote this. I always think about death, no matter how light my mood is, but I rarely have concrete plans.]

If you are feeling hopeless and suicidal, please reach out to people or to a hotline. Depression lies to you. You are worth something to someone, and you will be missed forever.

TRIGGER WARNING – suicidal thoughts, death, hopelessness

 

 

 

 

memories I’ve deleted
wisps of smoke in the wind
disappearing vapor trails
something that was but is no more

people I’ve discarded
empty shells of flesh
devoid of substance and spirit
their essence is gone

places I’ve deserted
vistas left unseen
towns without a name
the spaces left behind

delusions I’ve denied
blind faith in gods
belief in myself
things that no longer matter

deleted
discarded
deserted
deluded

nothing to forget
no one to care for
nowhere to call home
nothing to believe in

maybe someday
I’ll delete myself

mortality

I’ve been preoccupied with death lately. More specifically, my own mortality has been on my mind. I think about it during the day, and I dream about it at night. I worry about dying from COVID if I were to catch it, but there are many other ways to die: car crashes, falling trees, stepping in front of a bus, falling awkwardly and cracking your head on the pavement, falling off high places, having a heart attack or a stroke. I think of these things every day, and it has become tiring and unhealthy and obsessive.

There is so much to do before I die: wills, lists, preparing finances, helping secure my family’s future without me, and more. I feel like a squirrel with winter approaching, with so many nuts to gather and ever-dwindling time. I want to survive for many years still, despite the difficulty of life inside my brain, but I don’t know how long I can last.

I have been feeling pretty good mentally for the past few weeks, but this line of thought is trying to bring me down into another depressive spiral. Sometimes it is that easy for me to get sucked into a mood swing. I want to be free of bipolar depression and anxiety, but I believe that is an unattainable dream. I’ll settle for just eliminating this obsessive thinking pattern.

in-laws

I’ve been thinking about the brevity of life. We have our loved ones with us for an unknown amount of time, and you never know when that time will end.

My wife’s parents are old, in their late 70s. I know they’ve been “getting older”, but “old” seems to sneak up on people. They both have health issues: my mother-in-law has atrial fibrillation and has a pacemaker, and problems with depression and anxiety; my father-in-law has various things going on with his eyes and knees and digestion.

They handle their age with such grace. They are endearingly stubborn, befitting their midwestern roots. They try not to complain or dwell on the daily aches and pains of getting old. But they don’t fool themselves, and they don’t avoid the fact that their twilight years have arrived.

Despite the longevity in both their families, I fear they might not be with us much longer. I think about how Anne might cope with their passing. I wonder how I will feel, because I will be just as sad.

I look at the in-laws as if they were substitute parents. When my adoptive mom died many years ago, before Anne and I were even married, they helped me deal with A-mom’s affairs and showed me kindness and compassion. They cared for me as if I were family, not just as a boyfriend of their daughter. I will be forever grateful for that.

comfort for the atheist

I went to a graveside funeral recently. A Christian pastor led the service, and he read several passages from the bible about everlasting life with Jesus and how He has prepared a place to receive his believers after their life ends here on earth.

If you believe in the Christian faith, it must be comforting and uplifting to hear those words, to know that death is not a final end but a passage to a better place. I feel like the friends and family at the service appreciated this, and it helped them cope with the loss of a loved one.

As an atheist (or possibly an atheistic agnostic), I wonder what there is to give me peace and hope after someone close to me has died. Without the belief in an afterlife, am I to think that death is the end, hard stop? I am afraid that’s all there is; you had better enjoy life while you live it, because when the clock reads 0:00, you’re worm food, and that is it.

I believe that a person lives on in the memory of everyone they touched and everyone who loved them, but those memories are fleeting and fade over time. Some people live on through their accomplishments or inventions, but perhaps only in history books or remembered names of long-dead people. But these fragments are just temporary, and don’t imply any kind of afterlife. A person has no consciousness after death and cannot transfer from one phase of life to another one … or can they? 

Personally I don’t believe in any god or eternal life for the soul, but I’m open to the possibility of other outcomes that can’t be explained. There is something appealing about the concept of reincarnation. There are young people that seem truly wise beyond their age (you hear these people called “old souls”). I can accept that ghosts might exist (I think I saw one as an older child). I believe evil forces exist in this world and cause pain and suffering.

But those possibilities cannot be explained through science or logic; these are only constructs of the mind. The brain goes dark after death, and doesn’t return. People who talk about “near-death experiences” are simply confusing perception with the action of chemical reactions and electrical impulses.

None of this answers the questions at hand: what is there that gives me solace and comfort when someone has died, and what do I have to look forward to after death? I don’t think there is anything for me after death, but first I need to finish living. I can help keep alive the memory of people who are close to me. I can do good for others while I am alive. I can have a positive effect on the people around me, even if only a few. 

That’s good enough for me.

corona fools’ day

Nature has some new plague to run in our streets. – Rush, “Red Tide”

So much suffering, and we are just getting started. Nothing in my lifetime has prepared me for the level of death and economic hardship we will soon face.

I read a lot of history, stuff about wars and depression and dark times, but it is all abstract when it is in the distant past or in far-off places. The loss of life during the Boxing Day tsunami was tremendous, but even that seemed so far away from America.

This will be real, and this will be in our faces every day. We were all New Yorkers after 9/11, but the tragedy will be so much bigger this time, reaching into every city in every state.

I hope it’s not as bad as the models are predicting. But if it hits your family, you don’t give a fuck about the models anymore. You simply join the millions who will suffer and grieve this year.

escape

This town doesn’t need a name, it’s just a place on the road to somewhere else. It’s not a destination, it’s a part of the map that people avoid. This place is a starting point for some people, a purgatory for others, and a finish line for too many. Youthful dreams and old memories die here, and the cemeteries are filled with restless spirits who could never get away. Those who stay are forever scarred by the desolation of this town, a place where hope withers in the parched landscape. Those who do escape have a dark spot on their memory burned away by the searing summer sun.

And yet … something calls me back to the place it all began. Someday I will visit again, and part of me will die a little more.

goodbye max

We said good bye to Max today. He had been getting progressively sicker for the past few weeks, and we decided it was time to let him go. He went to rest in Nicole’s arms at the vet. We brought him home and buried him in the woods behind the house.

DSCN3166

Max loved his people, and we loved him in return. He and the kids grew up together, so they have many special memories of him. We were all sad, but we will remember all the good times we had with him.

Jake stuff on my cat 009

Max survived a lot during his nearly 15 years, including the move from California, the cricket swarm, the white cat next door, and several injuries. He lived a full life, and I am honored to have shared it with him.

Good bye, Max.

jake attacks football