(be warned — this is sort of a cathartic free flowing writing exercise that may or may not make any sense to anyone but me)
I heard this quote somewhere over the last few days/weeks. I think it was Brene Brown that said. Regardless of who it was, it’s the hardest truth there is. The past three weeks have been brutal for me. Absolutely brutal.
22 days ago my mom and stepdad came to visit and see my new house. I gave my mom a smart tv for Christmas and she hated it, so I had told them I would give her my much larger tv that I no longer had use for and take the smart tv back. I also found myself with an extra washer and dryer after buying the house. Looking back, they were here too short of time on Saturday. They had overslept and then needed to feed the dogs, ducks, and chickens. By the time they made it to Greenville it was already around lunch time. As they got here, I was raking up some branches from a large oak tree that sits in my front yard. My step dad rolled down the window and joked that he had never seen me do manual labor in all the time he’d known me. That’s probably true.
We walked around the yard, I showed them my favorite view of the top of the mountain from under that tree, and we went to look at the grape vine that is situated near the tree. Looking back at the Nest cam video, as we walked back across the yard, he stares at the cam. I’m sure it’s because he had just put up cameras on his property and was checking mine out, but in hindsight, it’s haunting to see him staring at you through the camera lens, knowing he was within 12 hours of passing.
We went to eat at Olive Garden, he got a shrimp meal. I only remember because he was talking about it and we were talking about how I don’t anything from the sea. He ordered for my mom, something that at the time didn’t really catch my attention, but again, in hindsight, I now know just how good of care he was taking of her.
He helped me bring my grill to the new house and commented on the cactus that was at the old house that he had given me. Once they got back to the house, he wanted the privacy fence I had taken down, and knew he couldn’t take them on that trip so him and Louie laid them against the side of the garage so he could come back and get them soon.
Then they left.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have made them stay the night. Would that have changed the outcome, we still don’t know, but I would have never let them leave, though I am incredibly grateful they came.
I woke on Sunday morning, around 6am, to Jeremy coming into the house. He told me to wake up like 5 times, delaying the inevitable. I can still see and hear him saying “I have Edna on the phone. You need to get up. Mack is dead.” I remember vividly saying three times “Mack?” “Who?” and then with the force of a ton of bricks hitting me in the face saying “MY MACK!?”. I then talked to Edna, told her I would get up and head to my moms. I called my mom. She was strangely calm. I then noticed she had been trying to call me since 3:53a. She called me four times, not knowing that my phone stays on Do Not Disturb and she would need to “break through” to make it ring. I called Terry, Jr and text Shandal. Jeremy offered to go home and change and come back and drive me down.
The next week was so painful. My mom, rightfully so, was not in any condition to make many decisions. Jeremy commented later that he didn’t realize it would literally be just my mom and I in the funeral home trying to make decisions. Decisions that just a few hours earlier were the furtherest things from our minds. The only thing I knew for sure, was that I wanted Shandal to sing. We left the funeral home and went down the block to pick out a wreath for the coffin. Again, decisions that seemed unfathomable just a few days earlier.
The next week was spent with family, sitting in Mack’s shop, watching the rain pour, playing cards, anything to try to keep my moms mind off of the loss. None of us really knowing what would happen next. We still aren’t sure.
One thing I do know for sure, something I’ve had to learn, is that since my strokes I have a limited supply of brain energy in a day. Thinking… thinking hard, is just as tiring for me as working out. I’ve also had to learn that has I start to get overwhelmed I have to shut things down. For the last few weeks, my mom has gotten and will get for the foreseeable priority.
Where do we go now? I don’t know. Does my mom move to Greenville, move the Charlotte, move to Lexington, or stay where she is? I don’t know. That’s up to her and we are working through it.
One thing all of this drive time has allowed me to do is be alone in my head. I’m notorious for going, going, going… and going, going, going keeps me from really really drilling down and thinking about things.
I’ve had time over the last few weeks to think about my own mortality, as if I needed any additional reminders of it, my step dad was only 10 years old than me.
I’ve had time to think about where my business is, where it should be, where it needs to be, and what needs to change to get it there.
I’ve had time to think about all of the mistakes I’ve made in the past few years… some of which I can change, many of which are just what they are.
Tonight, I read a friends status on Facebook that got to me. Without going into it too much, one of my very best friends in the world in high school has stage 4 cancer, and he’s had a rough week. The craziest thing about that friendship is that it ended abruptly. He found out I was gay, through a third party, and bailed. We quit talking. About six months later he came to my work and apologized. That takes a big person. I’m still not sure if I handled it very well. In short, I thanked him for his apology but we never hung out again. I was hurt. He may have been hurt. I’m not sure. All I know is that it took almost 20 years for us to speak again. And that sucks. Hindsight is 20/20.
Life is short. Life is way way too short. The clock is always ticking and some point it starts to tick faster, and faster… the sand in the hourglass starts to flow free-er.
One of my favorite quotes…. which I always run across when looking up quotes, is a Robert Frost quote: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
That it does.
at some point you have to stop wasting time on the wrong people, focus on the right people, and live. Because living doesn’t last long… and if you aren’t careful you’ve missed out on what and who really matters in your life and filled those spaces with placeholders.