Monday, December 28, 2015

Something good that came from something bad.

“I’ve had it, Pops,” Jason said.

Steve stopped walking. Jason didn’t.


Another three steps, then father watched his son’s head fall, shoulders hunching forward. Jason didn’t turn, just stood there, a tree bent in the wind. Steve walked up alongside, afraid he wasn’t going to be able to help his son.

“I’m a failure, Dad.”

Jason’s flat whisper cut deep. Steve breathed, holding back tears, knew feeling sorry for his son wouldn’t help anything, changed his perspective.

“You know, I’m pretty successful,” Steve said, walking again, hoping to engage his son in something other than his own self-pity.

“You’re f*cking successful!”

Jason quickly caught up, even as his father walked faster.

“Yep, I’m f-ing successful!”

They smiled at one another, accepting a truce on the taboo of Jason’s use of explitive deletives.

“It’s partly your fault,” Steve said.
“My success.”

Jason stopped, jerked his body upright.

“Easy,” his dad reminded, keeping Jason focused on what was being discussed, not the playful use of foul language.

“I wouldn’t be the man I am,” Steve said, facing Jason, looking him right in the eyes, “if it weren’t for you.”

For a brief moment, sadness poured between them, a flood of memories, painful reminders of Jason’s brain damage and lack of self-control.

“F*ck you!”

Jason was off, walking fast.

“It’s true,” Steve called, “and you know it.”

Jason slowed.

“You taught me patience, tolerance, acceptance,” Steve said, slowly closing the gap between them. “I would never have been as successful as I am, without you.”

Jason turned. Even in the darkness his eyes glinted with the growing moisture.

“It’s partly your fault,” Steve laughed, trying to distract his own tears. “If you think I’m successful, then you’re successful, too.”

Father and son searched each other’s face for the truth that was there.

“Come on,” Steve said, putting an arm around his son, pulling him close alongside as he turned them around, back towards the Christmas dinner and family that they had so abruptly left. “Let’s get some dinner.”

What hurts right now?

The chill in the air reminds me how much I love to be held, warm, in the safe arms of a loved one, the heat seeping, penetrating every fear, relaxing every tension, releasing every anxiety.

I wish I could give my children, now grown and responsible for themselves, the security I felt from my parents and family. Where did that feeling come from? My parents weren’t “holders” or “huggers”. Yet I have always felt safe. Perhaps it was just luck, the luck of NOT having that trust broken by circumstances.

The holidays boil over with my insecurities, doubt, regret, remembrances of innocent childhood, unharmed, magical, protected from the outside world and all its ugliest challenges. I want to make it all better, a kiss on the finger, a band-aid wand.

I have a mantra for the holidays: my suffering is caused by me taking responsibility for things I cannot control. It’s a variation of Buddhism and the Alcoholics Anonymous Serenity Prayer. As much as I might wish to have given my children the Christmas I remember, I cannot change the past, nor can I control their perception. So I let go of expectations, cherish my memories, let go of the pain of wanting to change things I cannot, and bath myself in gratitude, giving until it hurts, and letting the wonder of this moment wash me silly with the dopamine of delight.


Tether cut, the newborn floats, adrift, ripped from safe berth by birth. JS annotation code