No matter how far I run, no matter how deep I hide I can't escape the bitter elegies that haunt my mind. Fallen away from everything I used to know I've become a wraith wandering through the living as nothing more than a shell, all humanity stripped away by a force unseen. I can no longer sleep, I have to force myself to eat (I've found myself going for 3 or more days without eating anything). Whatever is holding me down (be it demonic or something deep with in my own mind) has been winning and I feel isolated and alone. I can smile, I can sing and dance with others; but deep inside me I feel more alone than ever.
If you were to trace the scars of my heart, you would find that they begin at a rather early age. I've heard it said that a little boy's hero is his father, if this is the case than my hero died at an early age. A day skiing with a friend, a blizzard; cold and wet they became lost in the snow. They fought to survive, but hypothermia kicked in and my father lost the struggle. His friend managed to make it out, riddled with hypothermia. When they found my father his dog was still huddled against him trying to warm is his frigid body, and fought to defend the frozen body of her master. As a child of only about 6 years of age I did not fully understand what had happened. I was woken up in the middle of the night.... There was a man at the door, my mother was in tears.... Dad isn't coming back. Why? where has he gone? I cried, but only because those around me were in tears, I would learn the full reality of death as I spent the next few years in mourning.
The way humans deal with death is a funny thing. I've heard the steps of the grieving process explained many times, something to the effect of Denial to Acceptance and all the steps in between. Call the "process" whatever you want, for in the end our method for dealing with death is nothing more than denial and self-illusion. The way humans deal with their own mortalities is to try to try to make themselves believe that death is not a reality. When someone close to us dies this shatters the illusion we have created, and we mourn not only for the death of the one we knew but the realization of our own mortality as well. Like wounded animals we cower from death, living a life of lies to keep ourselves sane. We bury the memories of death as we bury the bodies of those who have passed away. We bind the wounds, but in reality the scars remain. I've found this true with myself as well, I will avoid bringing up the memories of those I've lost as it reveals the still painful scars I keep inside. I still find myself speaking around others of "my parents" in the plural sense, in order to avoid questioning and the re-opening of scars long blurred with the aid of time. As a result the very fact that I don't have a father may come as news to quite a few who came to know me here in Texas.
Death took a vacation and I was free from the loss of anyone close to me until I came to school here in the land of Texas and left the ones I know and love behind in a land that has now become foreign to me. It started in the Fall of my first year at school when I heard that my best friend's brother had been killed in car accident. The illusions I had spent so long setting up fell down in an instant and the tears began to fall once again. With tears flowing down my cheeks I argued with God beneath the gaze of a statue, but my only answer was the echo of my own words. Rain fell and soaked the ground; the statue still stared off into the distance. The world remained the same, only I had changed. Timmy was gone, only old enough to barely start driving. I lost someone I had found who viewed the world in the same way as I.
The following Christmas my world was shattered once again upon the news of the death of Matt Pfeifer. Those who knew Matt (especially the freshman) knew him as the older brother figure. He was one who you could always trust to talk to, and had an amazing way of cutting the bull-shit and telling it as it is. His death sent shockwaves through those who lived around me, and many people were not quite the same upon my return.
Growing up without a father was not easy for me, so I naturally looked to others in my life for male role-models. If there ever was a hero who could take the place of my father it would have been my grandpa. A man of upstanding morals and ideologies, I would do well to become half the man he was. He was always there for us in times of need, both physical and emotional. He was a model of what a man could become, but like all men, he was subdued in the end by his own mortality. A heart-attack left him weak and frustrated (one of the only times I've ever seen him this way) and his health slowly declined there-after. Spring break of my first year of college I decided to stay at the school and work rather than return home or go with the others on various trips. Towards the end of spring break I received the message that I have always dreaded: "You need to call home, something has happened."
I received the news: Grandpa had cancer, he didn't have long to live. At this point my mind realized the ramifications, but searched for a thread of hope to hold on to. He wasn't dead yet, there was still time for a miracle, surely God would not let someone like him die in this way; he would recover. As I boarded the first flight back to Utah, my Grandpa died in the hospital. By the time I got back all that was left was his lifeless body, his spirit had already moved on. I wasn't there for him when he left the world either; I wasn't able to be with him in his last moments on this Earth. A very close friend of mine spent time with him in the hospital in my place (which I am very grateful for), but my absence still haunts me to this very day. The last words I have from him are in the form of a letter he sent, some words of encouragement as I was going through a rather hard time at school: words on paper in which I would never have a chance to reply to. I would never have a chance to thank him for his support, to tell him how much he has helped shape my belief and my somewhat slim hope for humanity. I was cut deeply, and though the tears may stop; the pain never will.
There are many very respectable authors who portray death as an honorable or noble facet of life. As something that we should face with boldness and readiness; a backside to the coin of life and something we should accept as nature. There is nothing honorable about death, it is as empty the corpses it leaves behind. Giving death honor or glory is just another way of deceiving oneself to the true nature of the world. You can disagree with me if you'd like, but I believe that humans were not made to die. I believe it is a consequence of our own failure as creatures on this planet, a consequence of our human disease. Death is an end which leaves us few clues of any sequential beginning, a punishment that we can't ignore and can't escape.
My next bout with death did not effect me directly, but rather effected my friend Randy. We were watching the Stephen King movie "Storm of the Century", when Randy's phone began to ring. We paused the movie and waited in the darkness of the room. Something was not right, Randy was in tears. He handed the phone to me and I heard the hysterical tear-filled voice of his mother on the other end. There had been an accident; his sister was dead or dying (I couldn't really make it out at this point). Somebody was coming to pick him up, and I needed to wait for them as they did not know where to find him. Somewhat uncomfortable with leaving Randy by himself, I gathered those on the floor who were still awake (as it was well past 1 AM), and informed them of what had happened. I went outside to wait to direct Randy's ride, and was joined by my friend Eric Mings. Eric was one of the one's who had been effected by the death of Matt Pfeifer very strongly. Out in the warm night air we talked about death and humanity in one of those conversations you can only really have when you are tired and let down your natural defenses. I watched the sunrise, but realized it did not bring much hope for the new day.
So that brings us to now, once again I am away from home and once again death strikes the world I once knew. My tears fall not only for Will, but for those who I've left in Utah. There are those that were really close to him, which I'm sure have felt a pain much greater than that which I am facing now, but there are also friends of mine going through other struggles which I am not there to help with. I feel like I've failed them and as a result failed to live up to my own ideals. Am I running from my problems? Was it my choice to stay here, or was it the will of something else. Maybe I was left here to deal with my own problems; maybe I'll become stronger as a result. All I know is I've never felt so weak. I feel like I have not so much been stalking death as it has been stalking me. For a long time it lingered at the corner of my mind, not as strong urges but as minor suggestions; small suggestions that seem innocent enough, a toying with my own demise. I discovered (with help), that these ideas were not my own. Something wanted me dead, out of the way. The only reason for this, I decided, is that I pose some kind of threat through just existing. So if I do nothing else, if I keep on going maybe it will prove beneficial in the end. Maybe I was wrong, maybe just existing isn't enough. I feel like I want to yell, yet have no voice. I want to fly but I have no wings. My life is a void.
This has by far been the most difficult entry I have ever made; there is no pause in the words to mark where I could not go on. No marking of the inward struggle to run from writing what needed to be written. Somehow I pushed through, and maybe that in itself is a signal that I am getting better. Maybe I'll be able to stop running from the world around me and become part of it once more. The reality of life is that not making choices is a choice in itself, and lately I have chosen very poorly. Thank you for all those who left me comments, your words have helped shatter the delusion that no one cares and reminded me of the brighter side of humanity.