Languishing

20:36





I chose to come here today specifically because of the overcast, cloudless dark sky and the biting cold. As I drove here, a thick mist descended on the highway that it took me almost two hours to arrive instead of the usual half hour. Yes, it was that bad. I thought it was appropriate for the occasion, but imagine my annoyance when, as soon as I arrived, the sun broke out and the dreariness dissipated. The cold didn’t though.
There were a few snow patches on the ground, but as I got closer to you the ground was just hard. I usually sit beside you, but not today. There isn’t anything remarkable about today, nor is there a poetic reason for my refusing to sit with you. No, it’s not because of the cold, either.

It’s funny how we all make choices that harm us from time to time. Hanging on to things we know we should let go. Staying in toxic places, clinging to things and people and places because we can’t face the embarrassment, humiliation, or worse, ourselves. Sometimes we triumph. Other times we don’t.
You didn’t overcome.
 And I wanted you to. Desperately.

You once asked me why I don’t care about you. It was a strange question coming from you. I had to take a minute to think, push the defensiveness aside and see you, see the validity in your question. But it wasn’t valid. Because you chose to see my actions as uncaring, unloving.
I wanted you to be a better man. It’s a shame you never opened your eyes to perceived that. You could never stand to be corrected. And instead of being soft I grew hard. I saw how you devoured soft. And I watched it devour you.
I suppose it wasn’t my lesson to teach. But I have always cared. I have always thought you deserved better. You haven’t always gotten the better that you deserved; but I wanted you to have the courage to pursue it. For the sake of your sanity and health and the generations to come after you, I needed you to be courageous.
You couldn’t see that your actions were ensnaring you. You couldn’t see that you were setting a net for yourself, covenanting yourself with a demon that would kill you. And it did.
I had to be firm with you. I’m sorry that you saw that as uncaring. And I’m sorry that when everything was all said and done, it didn’t seem to help.

Your funeral is a blur to me. Everyone had lovely things to say about you. Even the folks that you didn’t like waxed poetic about their memories with you. It left an acrid taste in my mouth. You were responsible for your death. They were responsible for your death. They should have protected you. Spoken up for you. Demanded better of you.
But I don’t blame them or you. Not anymore.  Not really anyway. Some folks aren’t privileged to start off with firm foundations. Sometimes we reject the lessons to build better foundations. Sometimes we feel too fragile, too hurt, too this, too that. Always the excuse of too much of something.

I hear someone noisily walking towards me. I look up. I stretch my numb lips into a friendly smile. “Hello,” I mumble.
He smiles and nods as he walks past me and then stops. “I see you here quite often. Are you visiting a family member?” he asks.

I nod my head. “Yeah.”

“Husband?”

“No.”

“Father?”

“No.”

“Brother?”

I take a deep breath and exhale slowly, turning my face away from him.  “I’m sorry for your loss,” he offered. He pauses and then asks, “Were you close?”

I shrug my shoulders. I should be uncomfortable. But I don’t feel anything. I haven’t felt anything in a very long time.
“How’d he die, if you don’t mind my asking.”

“His wife killed him.”
His eyes widen and he looks uncomfortable.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to---“
“It’s ok,” I tell him, looking him in the eye. “She killed her self so…” I shrug my shoulders and look away from him. He mumbles his condolences and walks away.

It’s too cold out here. And the chill is beginning to reach my bones.  I suppose I should go. I don’t have much to say. I never seem to know the right things to say. I toss you the single sunflower that I brought. It lands by your headstone, slightly squishing the petals on one side. I should fix it, make it look straight. But I don’t.
I hear footsteps again. It’s someone we both know. She comes quite often as well. I turn away and walk towards the opposite gate from which I came.

Maybe tomorrow I will be back. Perhaps I will be a better listener. Perhaps I will be able to sit with you and you can help me understand.

Perhaps sitting with you in this cold place will help me become softer.

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