semicolon ;

IMG_0871I couldn’t tell you the exact year.  Nevertheless, the fucking date.

I’ve always remembered it as November 28th.  But, that’s the mind of a 5 year old.

The Unix program “cal” tells me that the 28th of November was on a Monday in 1977.  It tells me that the 28th was on a Tuesday in 1978. I always remember it as 1978, but the math doesn’t add up.

I remember a Saturday.

I remember Laurel, MD.  I remember a 2 bedroom apartment where I lost a couple of teeth.  I remember that I was so damn excited by the ladder on the back of someone’s van;  I could see it from the window of our apartment.  I wanted desperately to climb it;  I did.   I was caught by some dude with lamb chop sideburns and greasy grey hair.

“What are you doing” he asked.
“I’m climbing,” I said.
“It’s not your van,” he said. I felt fear.
“No, It’s not.”  I ran up the stairs to our apartment.

I was 5.


My brother was 3. He doesn’t remember.

The Super Friends were on channel 13, probably; our TV was black and white, definitely.

I could see the colors.  Don’t tell me I couldn’t;  I could.  Everyone knows that Superman has a red cape and blue tights, with a giant golden S on his chest.  Yes, I could see the colors;  fuck black and white.

Who the fuck are you to tell me that I couldn’t see the colors of my heroes?

Really?  Who are you?

The man who would become my dad came out and said, “Boys, your mother has something to tell you…”

And I cried.  For a long time.  My “real dad” was gone.  He died.

He was 28.

I had questions.

How did he die?

Why did he die?
–there was something wrong with his brain–

Why didn’t the Doctors fix it?
–they couldn’t–

They didn’t try hard enough!
–they couldn’t help your dad–

I hate the Doctors!  They DIDN’T DO ENOUGH!!!

Years later I would learn that my dad had tried to take his own life several times.  He was finally successful when he pointed a .22 rifle at the roof of his mouth, and managed to pull the trigger.

To this day, I find the picture awkward.

Somehow, he managed.

I have very few memories of the funeral.  There was a blue and white cross made out of roses, atop the closed casket.  I didn’t understand why I couldn’t see his face at the time.  We rode in a black limo from the funeral home to the cemetery.  (I still don’t know where my father is buried, but I know it’s the same cemetery as my step dad.)  On the way, I must have pissed off the driver.  I’d never been in a car with power windows.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

The driver put on the window lock. Fucking Prick.

I have a vague recollection of the casket being lowered into the ground, on canvas straps, and someone shoveling the first bit of dirt into the grave.

That was that.  Blank.

We maintained contact with my Grandparents for a few years, but sometime (perhaps when I was about 12) that ended.

I grew up without any connection to may blood relatives on my father’s side.

When I was in 4th grade, my mother told me the truth about my father’s death.  I was home (ostensibly sick with a stomach bug) and watching a western from the 1960’s — The Big Valley.  I had a silver cap gun with plastic ivory handles that I was playing with.  When she told me, I modeled putting the barrel in my mouth.  Because, well, when you’re that young, experience teaches.

I never understood.  I probably never will, fully.

There’s a specific kind of pain, that can’t be described — let alone felt, unless you’ve been there.

There’s a specific feeling of hopelessness that nobody understands unless they’ve truly been depressed.  Not your run of the mill teenage angst, but full on depression.  The kind of depression where every thought hurts.  The kind of depression where sunlight is not welcome.  The kind of depression where you can’t imagine getting out of bed, let alone making it through the day until to dusk, when it is okay to go to bed.

If you’ve been here, you understand.  If not, consider yourself blessed — because you are.

My birth father took his own life.  When I understood exactly what that meant, I vowed that never, under any circumstances, would I do the same.  His escape from a wold of hurt, created a vacuum of pain for those who he left behind.

I have precious few memories of my birth father; the few that I have involve nature, rain coats and smiles.

I’m not angry with him. I don’t blame him.  I’ll never understand, and I wish that I could have known him better.  Maybe, made it better.  Probably not, but maybe.

There was a time, not long ago, when I disavowed my birth-father’s family.  I felt abandoned.  I felt ignored.  I felt angry.  I felt alone.

In the last year, I’ve been re-united with my father’s brother, my uncle as well as my cousins (one face to face, the other virtually).  When we first saw each other again, it had been 33 years.  Thirty-three years is long time, but when you’re family, somehow the time gap fades quickly, love takes over and all the hurt goes away.

My son has adopted his great-uncle as his grandfather (at least in his mind) and that makes me incredibly happy.

I recently read about #semicolonproject and #projectsemicolon (seems there’s a dispute about who “founded” the project which really doesn’t matter to me) — I don’t care who came first, the idea is powerful:

The semicolon joins two independent (but related) clauses in a sentence without the use of a transitional word or phrase.

Semicolons indicate a pause; a reflection — perhaps a change in perspective.

A Semicolon is powerful.  More powerful than a period, exclamation point, or a question mark — all of which end a sentence.  A semicolon indicates a willingness to pause… perhaps recollect… perhaps re-think…

Take time —

pause;reflect — live

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