That hollowed-out feeling right after you have thrown up. For a little while, you live in a thin, gray space right between collapse and revival. You’re not happy, sad, tired or revving up. You just are, for really low values of You. In truth, it is. It just is. It goes on.
I don’t know where D’s mind is right now. Where does a man’s mind go when he is in the middle of a life upheaval, most of it an all-consuming, cross-country move, and his only living parent unexpectedly passes away? I’d curl up in a dark corner for days, but therein lies one of the big reasons I stayed with D. The man is made of Upper Midwestern bedrock and he keeps going, doing his dharma, not once stopping to whine or bemoan. But, god damn it, he is human and he is physically and emotionally exhausted. And his father just died.
Bobby. Captain Marshall Robert Erwin. What a man you were. Not a word of the stuff I really admired could we put in your obituary. Don’t worry, I will tell your tales at the right time and place to the right people (with lots of Oban and Jameson present, of course, for we can’t disappoint your Scots and Irish blood. What did your Belgian half drink anyway?).
Thank you, Huehns Funeral Home, for making Bobby look great in his mint and gold tie, in the olive casket with the gold lining, with the green and gold flower spray on top. We know you loved the Packers, old man, even if you were a contrarian Brett Favre fan, considered Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers a bunch of losers up to no good and were only slightly mollified (slack-jawed, taken-aback and crow-eating is more like it) when the Packers won the Superbowl. I saw that smirk on your sleeping face.
Did you like your 21-gun salute? I was numb when it began, but it shook me into pride. You did a lot in your three quarters of a century. Rest now. I love you.
Yes, we’re tired, if it isn’t obvious merely from the lack of posts around here. We try to find rest and entertainment when we
can get to see each other, but what we need is sleep and time.
Time also means a past, which slips away from us slowly and in sudden spurts, when we aren’t looking, watching, waiting. Hell, even if we are looking, watching, waiting, grabbing away at the slippery jerk with all we have. In the last five years, D’s mother, my father’s mother, my uncle, my mother’s mother and now D’s dad have left us. Their presence, the time they occupied, their lives, their voices. No more. This theft of the past is so secondary until you’re puttering along, sitting in traffic somewhere and The Andrews Sisters come on the radio with a song that Sharon grew up with and danced to. And it’s all you can do to dry the sudden fountain of blazing tears, collect yourself and hold on, HOLD ON, to that momentary vision of Sharon and Bobby waltzing as when they first met, fell in love and into each other’s arms. A time. Their time. The time that made us. Now gone. Only empty space.
I’m not sentimental, just severely mindful of history and the people who gave us life, molded us and stuck around for a while to see how we turned out. I chose to love a good number of these people and this is the price. It was worth every minute.
Me: “And then there were two Erwins.”
D: “Guess we have to make more.”
I wonder if old stories can make good new ones.