Stop feeding off my pain. I cannot take it any longer. The burden, the weight, is far too great. I am no longer your scapegoat, your bearer of misfortune. My pain cannot heal you. I am not your savior.
Though I love you,
I need my strength for me. For me and for them.
(When my son hurts I care for him. I tend his wound, soothe his ailing body. How is it I know what to do?
What of his inner pain? How do I care for that?
When he cries out in pain, I hold him. When he can’t sleep for fear, I reassure him. When he looks down at his feet, reluctant to face the world, I cup his chin in my hand and lift his face toward mine. When he needs me, I am there for him. But even he…even he must someday care for himself.)
I avoid what should be done.
What must be done? What must be done?
(And by must I mean should, as should demands a moral choice: No other choices have meaning. To live with meaning, then, one must choose what should be chosen).
Care for myself as I would my son.
Not so deep within lives a little boy. And when he is afraid, he screams out so loud. A deafening, piercing wail. Screams to be saved.
Silent now. Do you hear him?
The fear of pain becomes the pain.
Fear of loss, of regret. Fear of mistakes. Fear of making a8n active, as opposed to a reactive, choice.
Through all this. Thirty-five years six months and four days later. That seems to be what I have learned. It all comes down to this: becoming a mature adult man, father and husband and citizen of this world, requires a choice.
Make a choice! Shoulder responsibility, or, rather, make responsibility my own.
I have avoided choices. Certain painful choices. Particularly risky choices. I fear an uncertain future. I sacrifice my present to the morning, but the morning never comes.
I fear an uncertain future, and the morning never comes.
Day in. Day out. Month after monotonous month.
The autumn breeze blows in winter’s chill. Melting ice reveals nodding snow bells, bowing to summer’s rising sun. Around, and around, and around this globe turns in its celestial ellipse. And I, my childlike existence, twirling and spinning and twisting limbs akimbo, orbiting my hard choices, year after bloody year.
(There are only so many seasons the flowers will bloom before these lights go out, and I feed the roots of next spring’s annuals).
I hover in childlike existence. I wait for someone to make the choice. To take it. To move the waltz along. I am not yet finished the dance, the high school wonder. I haven’t yet the courage to take her hand; or to turn my back. I haven’t the fortitude to say yes, to say no. Or anything much, at all.
Days into months, seasons into years; and there it is, nonchalant, uncaring, oblivious. Passing, turning, passing and turning.
Oh how the days pass me by, and the seasons turn their back on me.
Thirty, Thirty-one, Thirty-two, Thirty-three. Now thirty-five. Now thirty-five and six months. Now thirty-five and six months and four days.
And it, nonchalant and uncaring, passing and turning. The seasons of my life, orbiting the hard choices, my choices, waiting for someone to make them.
Waiting for me to take them.
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