On a warm summer evening in 1988, my older brother Jason and I rode our bikes into the small town of Deer Park. Our Grandma and Grandpa Ajer lived less than a mile away and often served as the destination. I do not remember much about that night. Things seemed quiet and like anything we would expect. What we did not expect was it was the last time either of us would interact with our grandpa. We would never hear his voice or see him about his business. He died the next morning. A heart attack.
When I woke that morning I had to seek out those who were awake. Jason and our older brother Craig were outside playing basketball while my dad sat or stood holding one of our youngest siblings. Maybe it was Chrissy who would have been about 4 months at the time. David? He would have been 3.5 I think. When you have 6 siblings it is hard to remember the years they were all born.
Our family was turned upside down. Well, I was anyways. I was about 8.5 and I knew then what death could do to a person. My heart was torn open and will never be as thick or strong.
I remember the night of Grandpa's wake. I could not stop crying. The pain was worse than anything I ever felt.
I recall my grandpa's death this morning because I learned a little more about it this morning. I learned how crippled I am over this event. I guess I've always known. Isn't that the thing with tragedy and hardship? We always know about it in the way it adjusts us, even if it is just a notch.
I felt no control over the situation of my grandpa's death. I wanted to. I once dreamt I fed him a carrot and he came back to life. My grandma liked that story. She repeated it to someone. I do not remember who, but I remember the feeling when I told her. I wanted her to make it happen. Someone, anyone. Maybe I had a new idea. I knew it didn't work that way, but I wanted someone to make it happen. Erase the pain and bring him back.
Since then, I am afraid to feel a lack of control. I associate severe pain with it. Pain that no one can make go away.
Sure, there were other things in my childhood that added to my disability. An uncle succumb to alcoholism. And there was my grandma. She became a victim of her own addiction and suffered through lung cancer.
The thing about my uncle and grandma and so many of the rest of us is we struggle with the same disability.
This disability of mine is labeled as anxiety. Not by a doctor. By myself. I feel it at times. It is not treated by a pharmaceutical. I treat it with a clean house, organized rooms, schedules, questions, and much more. Ask Joe. Ask him what I am like when I don't know what the plan is. It is a psychological plan of my future. It is dangerous.
Calvin was awake at 11:30 and 1. I laid him back down at 1 with the knowledge that he has a fever. Just like Nolan. Both are coughing their way through the night. Nolan has had a fever since Thursday morning.
When a child comes to your bed in the middle of the night, who otherwise stays put, his parents know 'something is up'.
This 'something' is about the worst cold Nolan has had and I admit I am fighting a fear. I am afraid of what it is going to do to Calvin. Hell, I'm afraid of what it is going to do to Nolan.
You know though, my fears are greater at night, when it is dark and I am all alone. I am not much different now than when I was a child.
Nolan came to my bed again this morning around 4:15. He coughed and coughed. I gave him some water and helped as much as I could and I left. I closed it up tight and ran my 6 miles. All the while I thought about how horrible I was feeling.
Then, in anxiety style, I analyzed the crap out of it and wrote most of it down.
Here is what I learned about myself this morning. I learned that I have learned a lot in life. I have learned a lot in one morning! I learned that calling this anxiety is like calling a band aide 'peach-colored'. It is not peach-colored that defines it. It is not being a band aide that defines it. The wound underneath the band aide does not even define it. Is it what caused the wound that defines it? That is where I am at this morning.
(By the way, I did like philosophy classes in college. It just wears you out because there is no beginning and no end. Just one big loop.)
As I wrap up this page of my book (not literally) I am reminded of my morning's lesson. I feel the need to control things in my life. To be successful. I need these to drown out my true lack of both. Sure, I am successful at some things. That cannot be argued. But if that were what really mattered, then I would not feel anxious this morning. I am not even sure it is the lack of control that matters either. The cruel joke about control is we never really have it. It is just that sometimes we do not feel the need to exhibit it, or 'pull it out of the closet' so to speak. I realized that is why I was an 11 at the time of my last post and a 4 today.