Suggested Audio Morphene:
 Sting “Fragile”
 Sting “Island of Souls”
 Enya “Exile”
 The Police “When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around”
Loss comes to us all. There are many things in life that we can directly influence but just as many that are completely out of our control. It matters not how much we endeavor to resist, the inevitable is named so for a reason. Eventually every juggler fumbles a hacky sack, sooner or later our looks are predestined to fade, faculties slowly diminish, people around us die, and there is not a damn thing we can do about it. I attempt not to deal in reality wherever possible but, harsh facts or not, these are the facts of life. None of us are immune, regardless of how much we armor ourselves up and secure our ramparts, loss is going to come a knocking sooner or later and, chances are, it’ll be packing a battering ram and know the precise coordinates of our livestock. How much we stand to lose depends largely on the amount we have gained and I have met numerous people who purposely run a tight ship just to lessen the drop off. They become set in their ways, often trust nobody other than themselves, and love the same way too. They sound pretty prepared right?
I’m living, barely breathing proof that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. You see, by missing the trick so habitually and shutting themselves off from pain and anguish, they decline the likes of love and faith. It seems ludicrous to me that, should we receive a sixty-year stint on this planet, anyone would wish to place all their eggs in the final basket and sit around playing the waiting game for their whole lives. However, it does happen, I have met people so neurotic that they refuse themselves the fulfillment of living and there is nothing whatsoever that can halt their solo march. Tunnel vision is all well and good but not when you’re passing everything and everyone by and not paying it or them a blind bit of notice. More often than not, shattered trust is responsible for the assumption of this position, and represents the ultimate loss of innocence. As children we tend to trust unless this is relinquished before it can develop and that is why we’re so wide-eyed and in constant awe. Then we grow up, some more than others and at differing rates, but our faith eventually becomes tested.
For as much as the initial five years sees us at our most productive when it comes to processing data, there are many checkpoint beacons throughout our lives that shape the people that we become. Some of these are set, the end of adolescence, commencement of our second childhoods around forty, the hopefully reflective sixties, all have relevancy and you can pretty much set your stopwatches by them. Others crop up ad hoc and often when we’re least expecting them. Death fits this particular bill and, more critically, the passing of personal heroes. Nothing can ever prepare us for this or make it any less desperate a process. Of course, we all handle the unwanted intelligence in our own manner, and I elected for the old blackout routine when my truest champion passed almost a decade ago now. My father was sixty-four when complications from his diabetes and a dash of on-site MRSA conspired to end his beautiful life and I remember the precise moment he passed with a clarity that I’ll never be able to shake down.
It just so happens to be Father’s Day and, while I feel incredibly at peace right now, I’m aware that so many others aren’t. Indeed, on Friday evening, a cherished friend posted a short, succinct piece of writing that stole the very wind from my sails and replaced it with an altogether fresher air. What she did was to share, in less than one hundred words, a celebration of her own dear father and champion. Ordinarily I would refrain from naming the individual as this was a truly intimate affair and, I believe, not written for any other reason than to loosen the valve so to speak. However, it touched me so profoundly, that Valerie Clark’s share deserves to touch every last one of you also. I went on to absorb a second piece under Valerie’s guidance and this delivered its utterly captive audience directly back to the very last moments of one life and first of a far more ambiguous other. It then dawned on me that, regardless of how open a book I claim to be, there is still considerable room for manoeuver. Laying myself bare is something I take no issue with doing; but what I share is always under my sole jurisdiction. Thus I tend to shy away from coercing others to places I’m reluctant to return to myself. The night my cherished father died is one such place.
However, Valerie empowered me to do this, and did so by taking a humongous leap of faith. Making your pain accessible to others is one thing but, when said hurt is transmitted from the soul and still smarts like all hell, it provides every last visitor with the motivation to do the same. Some channel this through prose, others art, music or simple interaction. One way or another, we all unfurl in unison. I struggle to keep up with my Facebook feed and many threads pass by before I can actively contribute. However, the timing here really couldn’t have been any better and, the impact, any stronger. Here was loss at its most acute yet, through the courage of a thousand proud lionesses, Valerie Clark assisted me in finding something that I just have to pay straight forward. She’ll be reading this now and that pleases me to my very soul cage as she too has found something. A friend for life. We need as many of these as we can cram into the stands as nobody wishes to die alone and we needn’t if we afford open access to our hearts.
Somebody who can do what she did is worth walking over hot coals to hold close. Fret not if you’re expecting my mind to plummet south as that is not going to be happening, not today. True friendship is the most intimate deal on earth and I’m talking all about connection. We spark from one another and do so dependent on what representation we give of ourselves. Hers was positively steeped in faith and leaping just comes instinctively if we’re donating our own wires up for ignition. Long story short, I’m in the hospital right now and know only too well how this is about to play out. My father is going to succumb to his over-burgeoning sickness in just a handful of heartbeats and I’m alone in the adjoining corridor, utterly helpless. His organs are shutting down one at a time and this is causing skin discoloration that doesn’t bode at all well for recovery. You know what bodes even less well? The priest at the foot of his bed. The dimmed lights. The sound of a final struggle that my father is soon destined to lose. There’s about to be closure and hindsight doesn’t feel like the best thing to have at one’s disposal in these moments prior to devastation. Why am I putting myself through this? It’s not too late to stop in my tracks. I could still make this an exercise in sexy nurses right? Even throw in a gallery at the close. No.
This is where it starts to become interesting. Granted, there is not a damn thing I can do to help my personal hero snatch himself an eleventh hour victory, but I no longer need embark on this short and painful pilgrimage on my lonesome. Nurse Clark is performing her rounds and flashing a knowing smile that settles several of my fraying nerves in one fell swoop, around her are the rest of the medical staff and no longer are they quite as anonymous. Any one of you who have stood where I find myself now are putting in a shift and I’m going to be needing every last one of you in three shakes of a lamb’s tail. That’s two for sorrow and one part joy if you’re wondering. I guess we should begin with the former first as reverse is worse when baring the scars of your very soul. My mother is present also but in a state of stupor as she has something far different to fathom and isn’t as equipped as I, at least for the primary strike. We are being called into a vacant room just next door and one of us is preparing ourselves for “the talk”. The doctor has some rather grave news to impart but that’s not quite the half of it as, no sooner has he delivered the line “we’ve done all we can do for Charles I’m afraid”, than his colleague knocks timidly on the door, and here comes one to the solar plexus.
Please hold my hand. Apologies, you already are. Don’t let go as the next five seconds will feel like a thousand. It’s okay as I already know that you won’t. My mother has just lost her lifetime companion and, in the twenty-five years of being his personal carer since he lost the use of his legs, she never once let him go for an instant. As for me, I’m numb. Whimpering. Not understanding but then understanding only too well in the exact same moment. However, second time out, I have to say that the paralysis has all but subsided. It hurts of course, like a thousand poisoned blow darts suckling my ventricles in unison, but I can endure this feeling. When I need bedside manner the most; I’m receiving it from every last person reading this now. That is a tremendous relief to me as the next step is the obligatory adieu and jaundice wastes no time in relinquishing the soul from one’s cage. I shall keep this next re-enactment brief, make it an in-and-out job, but not before finding something within those four sterile walls. Last time I was ill-prepared but now I have a modicum of control and will not be frittering it either.
So here is how this is going to play out from hereon in. One kiss goodbye, brief but brimming with love, and I’m pulling straight back. You see, there is a beautiful soul to absorb, and it is already circulating me as I assume position. Moreover, my father isn’t alone either. Those who have decided to join me on this leg are bidding adieu also and I can feel that so strongly. For the next few moments, we shall all nourish together, before rotating 180 and heading back to evac for debriefing flourish. All that I hear is joy, all that I see is faith, all that I smell is team spirit, all that I taste is love, all that I feel is safe. Just a moment more and I think that should do us. Okay, let’s get to the chopper shall we? Please, after you, as I’m feeling wholly luxuriated and way past clear and present danger. No more angst, not where we’re headed. We needed those heads of steam but they made for the perfect trade against the lifeforce of such esteem. I can feel my father in my personal space as we speak and, wouldn’t you know it, he’s smiling wide. Better yet, he has been the ghost writer of each of my adventures since a pseudonym came into play in 2013.
However, for as much as he has been an ever present, it is right now that his attendance is felt most. I have indeed lost something this evening and a thousand repeat performances won’t make that lozenge any more pleasurable to digest. Some things in life we can’t change and the past is one of them. The other two are under our control to a degree and it is this percentage that I wish to hone in on. Every step is a fresh one and I’m in stellar company right now. Moreover, the friendships that have formed over the past three years, will remain intact for the rest of my life and beyond even that. My prose never need die, even when my physical shell decides no longer to play ball, and I take humongous comfort from that and every last one of you on this journey alongside me. What we have collectively found this evening is romance and I have faith that you’ll all appreciate the context as opposed to searching for subtext. There are fresh riches and they are unbounded. We are all united by fate, never divided by hate, and forever altered in our state, thanks to undertakings such as these. One spark is all it takes to start a fire and we all possess the tools to fan its flames. Making best of what’s still around is key and my father is currently raising a glass to that one.