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Sunday, March 27, 2005

No Business But Show Business

I hardly know where to begin, nor even that I should? But anger compels, and everyone knows that blogging in anger is best.

This is indeed my fourth life. Nothing at all to boast about. My first - my normal everyday throwaway life, a life replete with complacent certainty, a life you all have led and that most of you still do - that life ended with a birth. My second life ended with a death: just not the one that anyone anticipated? A Surprise!! death, then, to complement the other. Two for the price of one. My fourth life you have read about in these pages, if I may presume, and you know how it began and where it led me?

Four lives, one Fool, whistling his way along Precipice Road.

The second, the crucible wherein the tin was mixed, was chaptered by the births of my own three children, but colored by the death of the first; and closed by the death of their mother, my wife.

How do you begin to approach a firstborn clinically doomed to early death and a vacant life? When, to compound the tragedy, a Fool must choose on behalf of the Hero? Let me tell you this: there is acceptance, and then there is acceptance. The one, easier for all, accepts circumstance at its face and weeps its way into the future, smothering the baby with love unto death. The other accepts only that death will visit one day - any day - and presently; but will make the most of every minute until that day is yesterday. That you know to your bones that you cannot change the outcome is beside the point: the purpose of life is to live it, and by God - despite God - you will see that he does? To accomplish that demands a grim and exhausting kind of love that fights each day each hour to give them something of a life before they go. Rewards are slight to outside eyes: a smile of recognition; a patiently-teased chuckle; an infant throwing away his feeding tube and ever after eating off a spoon; or sitting in his pushchair at the shops, sporting custom-made shades to counteract photophobic sneezing? Little things. These little things meant more to me, to us, than any future Doctorate. The penalties, however, were gruesome and destructive: waking every morning with a knot - Is he still here? Is this the day?; the tube a capital Horror all its own, always fought, sometimes in-one-nostril out-the-next, always checking, worrying, never sure, that you fed it to his stomach not a lung? Administering daily enemas and physiotherapy - beating out the phlegm; his constant ever-present pain and illness, one bloody thing after another without Just One Time! a break of any length? Stress and distress that ruptured a family - the wider family - in unforgiving ways that never healed, not to this day. Not an easy path at all. Then, three years into his life, just as we had begun to forget, he did what we'd always known he would. Just like that, sat upon his mother's knee. One cold too many.

Five years later his mother followed. Out of the blue: she presented and died all in the space of a month - Bonfire Night to St. Andrew's Night. A strong and feisty woman of courage if ever there was, she endured two pain-wrecked weeks of diagnosis in various hospitals, then two weeks more in a hospice once she knew what it was that she had. She laughed, darkly, at the irony of catching a sunburn disease in a land of perpetual rain. This time around the Heroine chose for herself, leaving the Fool to merely gawp and bawl. We had learned the prognosis together, and she was having none of it: no treatment, no beating around the bush, get the bloody thing over and done with. She was not afraid of dying, she told me, but was afraid instead of the manner of it. She had accomplished much in her life until then - oh she had won no Nobel Prize, written no books, managed no companies, earned no fortune - but which of us, truly, would measure a life such a way? She had lived it, and lived it fully and enjoyably she was saying. Now it had come to its close, as everyone's does. Her regrets, such as she had, were all of the future, not of the past - of what she would not live to see or do. It was a lousy day to die, she said, but there it was. And you know what? I agreed with her, though it broke my heart. You love someone, you must love them enough to let them go - whether as parent waving a 'kerchief as a child leaves for college, or as husband holding hands with his wife on her deathbed.

Two tales, both all too true, and two irreconcilable paths taken at the fork, or so you'd think? I disagree: they are the same, but differ in perspective. On the one hand a life new begun and never lived at all, but on the other a life at its close and lived to its full while it lasted. Both are unified in retrospect, by looking back, as having been lived and in some way fulfilled. Both, if you like, had something nice, something accomplished, to show to God? May they both forgive me for spilling it all.

One day last week, while making lunch, I listened in horror as Pat Boone, sainted Pat Boone, fucking Pat fucking Boone on Fox News, accused a man he'd never met of spouse abuse, of beating his wife and breaking her bones, of neglect and abuse and abuse and neglect, and then... M.u.r.d.e.r. Or rather, he didn't: no - fearless Pat Boone could never be so open with his accusations, but prefers the gossip's He-says-She-says-must-be-true device. In the ladies circle he attends, the pious whisper judgement over neighbors' "immorality", of supposed sins and sinners they can never have enough of. Thoughtful, caring Pat Boone, hands clasped in prayer, asking Fox viewers How any man like that can be said to love his wife?

You know nothing Mister Boone, and it shows.


Blogger DarkoV said...

I've read and re-read this post. I thought tears and sympathy is all I could offer. But Rage is coming up strongly from the belly. This is one hell of a load to be carrying every day.

6:05 AM  
Blogger DarkoV said...

I've read and re-read this post. I thought tears and sympathy is all I could offer. But Rage is coming up strongly from the belly. This is one hell of a load to be carrying every day.

6:05 AM  
Blogger relvis said...

Why pick on people that are praying?

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7:57 PM  

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