Dear Matty

I’ve been waiting for months for this countdown to reach zero, and here we are.  It’s a little after 9am and you just texted me to tell me you’re at your gate at Philadelphia airport.  I’m sitting in my living room, just dressed, having coffee and writing you this letter.  I’m so unbelievably nervous about meeting you in person for the first time.  You’ve told me again and again not to be, but I can’t help myself.  My heart thunders in my chest and my pulse races at the thought of finally getting to spend some quality time with you that doesn’t require an internet connection and use of PSN.  I’ve barely slept at all because I didn’t want to miss picking you up.  I’m so anxious.

After you went to bed, I baked the chocolate chip muffins and ate two of them.  Had to make sure they were up to snuff before I served them to you hahahaha.  You just checked in on Facebook, I’m so excited!  Alex is on his way to get me and then we’ll be picking you up.  Every time I think about you being here I get excited and smile and laugh.  I can’t believe that this day is finally happening!


Fast forward to the end of the week…


This went by way too fast!  It’s a little after noon on Saturday and I’m sitting here on my couch listening to The Cure and wishing you were still here in my arms.  I still feel like an asshole for making you cry this week; once after telling you about my mother and what happened to her and again when we had the talk about us.

I’m going to miss having your big warm body to snuggle up with at night, holding you close to me and feeling the heat of your breath on my skin.  Hearing the sound of you snoring and watching your lumbering form cast shadows on the dim walls of my bedroom.  I’ll miss all those special dirty things we said to each other in bed.  I’ll miss having morning coffee and muffins with you and snuggling under the cammo comforter on the couch while we play games together.

I’m already counting the minutes until I get to see you again.  I miss my bubby.

Your papa bear,

Ben

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The Road to Destiny 2

Destiny, part 20

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally here.

Time is a Construct

Ever since Bungie’s big reveal, it’s been on our minds almost constantly, and the beta did nothing to sate our hunger for the game; merely made us thirst for the experience.  Days passed by in blissful melancholy as we knew what was to come, and what it was we would lose at the beginning.  But today, our ritual gives no comfort.  For today, before us, our “god”, The Traveler, was seized and we lay weakened without its touch.  But before we get into that, let’s back up a bit…

No bueno

You Betta Work

All day at work, I was texting and messaging nearly everyone I knew to try to find out if anyone was going to be available after I got off work to go to GameStop so I could pick up my copy of Destiny 2: Extreme Justice (because this game needs a damn subtitle.)  But person after person was either working or would already be in bed by then, so I was close to giving up.  Then it dawned on me, I have Uber installed on my phone but I’ve never used it.  There’s a first time for everything, right?  As it got closer and closer to 10:30, I started to become more and more anxious.  Was an Uber driver even going to be available at that time of night?  If so, was he/she going to be a nice person?  Or clean?  I would soon find out.

I clocked out on the dot and rushed home as fast as my legs would carry me.  As soon as I was inside I plugged in my dying phone and booted up the app.  After a nervous few seconds, I gave in to the pressure and requested my first ever Uber ride.  The lucky winner’s name was John.  As I dashed about the house throwing my work clothes in to wash and putting something on that didn’t reek of my sweaty body, I sat nervously and watched the little car icon drive closer and closer to my house.  As I saw the bright headlights vanquish the darkness of my street, I locked my front door and walked out to meet my new friend.  He was a lovely old southern black gentleman who had very good taste in music.  The interior of his car was practically spotless save for the wet floor mat which was understandable as it had been raining off and on all day.

After guiding him back to interstate (the exit near my house is weird and usually needs some explaining to people that have never been there) we were on our way.  The trip was quick and the conversation was pleasant to say the least.  John was from around here but briefly lived in Baltimore for a few years of his life and decided to move back to be closer to family.  He was divorced and currently retired save for his side job as a driver for Uber.  As we talked and got to know one another, I nervously eyeballed the clock as it was getting closer and closer to 11:30.  I had received a call from the manager at GameStop while I was at work several hours ago about the release for Destiny 2 and she told me they would be giving out the game until 11:30 then they would be closed.  I thanked her for the information and went back to fretting about whether or not I was going to be able to get my copy today or not.  Well, here I was at 11:20 pulling up to the front door of GameStop, relief filling every part of my body.  I thanked John for getting me there, gave him 5 stars and a tip and rushed inside to what I thought was a lackluster turnout.  But then again, since it was late at night I imagine that everyone that wanted their copy had been there hours ago.  I had to be a stupid responsible adult and go to work.  Fuck me, right?

I honestly thought my Uber experience was going to be like this.

After getting my game and finally getting the last of the Destiny Funko Pops I pre-ordered, I walked out of the store into the damp darkness of the parking lot.  I had hoped that I would be able to get a ride back home with my friend Glenn who works at the nearby Sheetz, but his replacement didn’t show up so I gave Uber another go.  John once again came to my rescue (he fortunately hadn’t gotten too far away) and got me back home safe and sound.  5 more stars and another nice tip under his belt and I came home to face what was to come in Destiny 2: Fist of Humiliation (coming to theaters this fall!)

Long live The Taken King

Sweet Emotion

I quickly logged on PS4, inserted the disc and anxiously waited for the patch to download.  I joined my brothers in arms in party chat and sucked down a soda and some microwaved mac n cheese (with bacon…mmmmmmm bacon) while the patch downloaded and installed.  I also redeemed my pre-order codes and then twiddled my thumbs until the moment had arrived.  I was not at all prepared for what happened next.  Being that I’m a veteran player and I’ve been here since day one of Year One, I was treated to a wonderful bit of reminiscing that made me burst into tears as I watched the slideshow play out.  I don’t have the words to describe how sweet it is that Bungie recorded all of this stuff, so I’m going to share the screen shots that I took of everything and you can judge it for yourself:

My first thought upon completing the main story quest was ‘that’s it?’

Story wise, things got much worse.

4/16/2015 was a red letter busy day for me

Before I met the 3 guys I completed this raid with, I almost gave up on Destiny completely.

Mora Sov is one badass bitch!

I remember this night fondly.  It was almost to the end of Year One and defeating Skolas was the last Moment of Triumph that I needed to complete before Year Two began.  I managed to complete it with only a few days left before the release of The Taken King.

Still the BEST expansion for Destiny, no contest.

I remember this night fondly too.  Thanks to the compassion of a girl from the U.K. named Claire, I got my first King’s Fall clear.  After that night I was determined to help as many people get through this raid and learn it as I had.  I wanted to help people the way Claire had helped me.

The second best expansion to Destiny, though to be honest I’m still disappointed by it.

I still hate this raid, though without Phil’s help (and bitchiness) I probably never would have learned it or completed it.  Phil is to Wrath of the Machine as I was to King’s Fall.  Every night for months after the release of Rise of Iron he was sherpa-ing a new group through the raid to help them get Outbreak Prime, the hardest Exotic you could get in Destiny.  Thanks for your tutelage Phil, you taught me well.

They took the time to record not only the dates of when I completed every single major event in the game over the last 3 years, but who I completed them with.  I remember each of these victories, each of these days and how each of them made me feel at the time.  That’s class.  I muted my mic though the others knew what was happening for they had already each been dealt the blow before I got back home.  Once I was done having my moment and I completed the opening mission it was finally time to see what happened next.

I’m not going to spoil anything as the game is new and I don’t want to be one of those people that ruins everything for everyone else, but I will say it was good to have the band back together again.  I’m glad that they took all the data from the beta tests and put it to good use.  Everything feels buttery smooth and refined.  There’s so much for us to explore and do that it’s probably going to take months to finish.  I look forward to new adventures with my Guardians.

Oh, hello DADDY!

Welcome to a world without light

Life Is A Suicide Mission

Do you ever wonder why people kill themselves? I used to.

Way back in school, when I was first introduced to the concept of suicide, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why someone would do such a thing. I get that your life is currently in a shit place and things are bad, but are they really that bad? Little did I know that in a few years, I’d learn why in a very difficult life lesson.

When I was young, I used to listen to all the grown ups in my family talk, I loved hearing their life stories. One story always stuck with me through the years. I don’t remember his name, but mama knew a man that she described as ‘always happy and funny and cheerful.’ She had a picture of him with my sister Regina when she was young. She told me that he had killed himself. Being so young, I had no idea what that meant or why it made her so sad.

Not long after high school was finally over, life decided to really take a turn for the worst. I’d be willing to go so far as to say that it’s the darkest period of my entire life. First, my mother died a couple months after I graduated after a nearly year long battle with cancer. My birthday and Christmas meant nothing to me that year. Then my friend Wendy’s grandmother died at Christmas. Then my father died the following March. Then his mother died a month later. Then on top of all that, I was forced out of my home by my father’s piece of shit sister since it was now legally hers. So I ended up living with my sister. Those were very dark times.

Did I think about killing myself? You bet, and often. I had nothing really to live for, I was merely existing. I often look back on it all and wonder how I made it. I suppose I never gave up hope that things would get better, and I guess in a way they did. Every time I thought about killing myself, I remembered what I was taught in health class in high school:

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

It pretty much became my mantra for years, said silently to myself when the voice within became too loud. I had friends, sure, but eventually they all turned out to be a bunch of fakes except one (he knows who he is.) In retrospect they weren’t really worth living for, but it was all I had. Life got better. Life GETS better, that’s why I’m still here.

Those times I entertained the thought, I weighed the pros and cons carefully. It would all be over; all the daily misery, the suffering, the anxiety, the sleeplessness, the fun and games, the sex, the music, the voices within, the noises without. Would it hurt my family? Probably, but I didn’t really care if it did or not. The ones that it would hurt the most were the ones that kept me from doing it, I stayed alive not for myself but for them. They are why I’m still here.

Those times I entertained the thought, I thought about how I’d do it. Pills? Not 100% effective. Guns? Too much of a mess. The answer came to me at work one night. I had an accident where I hit my right shin on a metal guard and ended up cutting open a vein. There was blood everywhere; every beat of my heart brought me closer to oblivion as I watched my life force drain from me. All I wanted was to sleep. All I wanted was to lay down and die. I was so tired. This was the way out, this was how I’d go out. I was taken to the ER and sewn up and drugged. I felt fine the rest of the night thanks to the wonders of modern medicine. Now that I had chosen a how, all I needed was a reason. An impetus for my destruction.

The years have passed since that night and while I have the occasional bad day here and there I still don’t have a reason to do it.  I like to think about it the same as this guy:

I don’t fear death and/or suicide. Whenever I get low I look at it as a very far off option if things don’t get better. They always do so I’m not worried about it. For me a quote from Neil Hilborn illustrates it best, “I think a lot about killing myself, not like a point on a map, but rather like a glowing exit sign at a show that’s never been quite bad enough to make me want to leave.”

I see suicide as an option, especially if you’re terminally ill.  An option that not everyone agrees on, but it’s an option nonetheless.  Do I still wonder why people do it?  Yes and no.  Why they do it is still a mystery, a case by case basis, but I think I have an inkling.  They just feel hopeless, like there’s no escape, like this misery is going to be endless.  But I don’t wonder about it as much because I feel I’ve lived through the why.

Days of Iron, part 1

Destiny, part 10

So, Rise of Iron is finally here!  The last 5 days have been kind of a blur between work and marathon Destiny sessions and little sleep.  Now that I’m on vacation from work I have time to compose my thoughts on the new expansion.

On launch day, we all waited online anxiously for weekly reset to happen so we could get started on our journey to become Iron Lords.  2 minutes after weekly reset happens, BAM!, server crashes and no one is apparently able to get in.  At least not for the first 2 hours after the expansion had been released.  I was in party chat when they said that you could queue up to get in, so I stopped playing Peggle 2 and went back to Destiny.  Once I got it to load I was in the 100,000 mark to get logged in.  ‘Oh well’ I thought ‘glad I have the day off.’  After a while, the line started to go down and I made it to around the 60,000 mark before Charter decided to take a dump and I got booted offline completely.  After power cycling the modem, router and the PS4 I was able to get back in queue.  This time in the 200,000 range.  But this time around, the line went significantly faster and before I knew it I was in.

Before the game crashed, I was in the tower with my alternate Warlock picking up my pre-order goodies from the mail robot but decided to go in as my main Warlock since I figured he would be the most powerful to deal with what was to come.  I went back to the tower after an uncomfortably long loading screen (server lag is a bitch) I found that Eververse was selling new goodies, all the factions and the Vanguard were selling new gear and the new ships and sparrows could be found in their respective kiosks.  After admiring all the new toys, I went to orbit and decided to start my journey…alone.  I left the party chat and decided that if I was going to experience the new story, I would have to go it alone so I wouldn’t have to try to listen to what was being said over the party chat.

The opening mission to investigate the abandoned observatory was fun and began to fuel my incessant need to ask questions.  Why are we just now hearing about the SIVA threat?  How long HAS it been since the fall?  Questions, questions, questions and no answers in sight.

Over the course of about 8 hours or so, I managed to complete all the new single player missions.  They were fun, but I feel like it’s a little lack luster in comparison to The Taken King.  Maybe over the course of the year it will grow on me because at first there were things about The Taken King that I didn’t like either (like no sparrows on the Dreadnaught) so I’ll wait and pass judgement later.

One big noticeable difference between this expansion and previous ones is that right off the bat they give you the record book for your Moments of Triumph so you have something to work toward immediately.  I was not thrilled to find that there are more tiny collectibles – Dormant SIVA Fragments as opposed to Calcified Fragments – but at least this time around there are only 30 instead of 50 and you only need to find 15 to complete that entry in the book (which I’ve already done).

The book also has one whole section dedicated to the Crucible which I definitely wasn’t happy to see.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and those entries won’t be as difficult to complete as I think.  The section of the book devoted to the new raid – Wrath of the Machine – is locked until you actually get in the raid and start doing stuff.  I’m not yet high enough to do much damage in the new raid (which, just like The Taken King wasn’t released with the expansion right away) but with some perseverance I’ll get there.  It took a while before I got good at King’s Fall and now I can run it fairly well, so, it’s only a matter of time.

I’m pleased to see that entries in the book stack across all your characters (like for example, finding the same 5 SIVA Fragments on all 3 of my characters completed the requirement for that entry in the book) so that cuts a bit of my grinding down.  I’m going to have to grind for Legendary Marks so I can infuse the weapons and armor that I want to upgrade and keep from Year Two.  I’ve already infused everything on my main Warlock that I wanted to keep and have run out of Marks so it looks like my Titan and alt Warlock are out of luck for now.

So far I’m not happy that there’s really only ONE new Strike in the expansion (which of course was this week’s Nightfall and it’s hard as fuck.  I didn’t finish it) and that all the other Strikes in the SIVA playlist are, of course, rehashes from Year Two with higher light levels.  I’m not happy that it seems like there’s little in the way of Lore this time around, unless it’s coming down the pipe later in an update or something.  No scannable objects in the environments, and no a whole lot in the way of new dialogue either.  I’m also not happy that none of the Year Two quests auto completed like the Year One ones did, so I guess all those Crucible quests are going to go back to the Abandoned Quests kiosk once again.  I also don’t like the fact that Three of Coins is pretty much useless now since you need Skeleton Keys to open chests at the end of Strikes, and getting these keys is all up to RNG and whether or not it feels like being generous.

The new social space – Felwinter Peak – is very cool.  I like the view from the mountain top and the new Cryptarch is much nicer than the asshole at the Reef ever was.  The new patrol area on Earth – The Plaguelands – is densely packed with action and things to find (like those damn SIVA clusters) so I’m sure I’ll be spending most of Year Three here.  I didn’t like it at first because I thought it was a little confusing, but now I have it all mapped out in my head.  I’ve already completed the quests for the new Gjallarhorn and for the Khvostov exotics and I’m hoping that if there are more exotic weapon quests, they’re just as easy to complete (and don’t require going into the Crucible).

So far Year Three is off to a promising (if a bit lacking) start.  Hopefully there are more surprises in store in the coming year.

Relationships, part 12

Jeffery,

I’m going to go on. I’m going to go on living to spite you. To spite myself. I’ll never forget what we had. How could I? You have me several firsts. Several intimate moments. Special dirty things that we used to do together. Sorry our ending was what it was, but I feel that’s what you wanted. I will go on living, go on loving, I will go on this journey alone if that’s what I must do, but I will go on regardless. I will go on regardless of the fact that part of me is missing, that I am damaged. Hopefully my next love can see past that and help me put the pieces back together, the way I tried to help you.

GRATITUDE


This is a post from a Facebook friend that really hit close to home.  Maybe someday I’ll know the gratitude of which he speaks.


GRATITUDE

It has been almost 6 months now since John and I went our separate ways. It has been the longest 6 months of my life. And, in many ways, some of the greatest growth I have ever experienced has occurred over these 6 months. Most importantly, I have learned gratitude. More on that later.

But I digress. Some history. I thought I had been in love before. I realize, now, until I met John, I had never truly been in love. It was a fast and furious love. I am sure the kind that made others scratch their heads and say slow down. It was the love I always wanted. All consuming. The kind that starts out with furious text messaging, then moves on to picture and video messaging. And then the phone calls. The first Facetime conversation. The first cross country trip to meet in person. And several months later moving in together. One person totally uprooting their life for another. That was the love. And it was intense.

We were met with several obstacles along the way. We were not deterred. Not able to spend nights together initially, John suggested we use Dropbox and watch movies together via factime. We were creative. My mailbox filled with hand written letters from thousands of miles away. Hand written? Who does that any more? Time seemed precious for many reasons. John has a stage 2 glioma brain tumor. It is still in remission thanks to years of chemo but he knows its there and the constant reminder of a daily regime of pills to thrwart off seizures makes sure he never forgets.

It was a love unlike anything I had experienced. We filled our walls of Facebook with beaming smiles and pictures of all the places we travelled. For a short time all seemed right in the world and nothing bad could happen to us.

But the novelty of something new often masks things and I had failed to notice John was homesick. He had left his entire family, friends, and job to start over with me. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough to help him adjust. Perhaps I tried too hard. I am not sure either of us will ever know.

In February, John decided he wanted to move back home and I was not to come. It was painful news to hear. My world screeched to a halt. His world screeched to a halt. I was angry. Very angry. I had done so much for him. How could he do this to me? When we are angry we tend to think more about our sacrifices in a singular sense than the sacrifices of the couple together. Over the next few weeks many tears were shed. We cuddled. We made cutting remarks. In the end, he still left. I will never forget that Saturday morning. We hugged and kissed goodbye and I watched him leave. It was like sending a child off to college except he wasn’t coming home. I cried. I screamed. I wanted to smash things. I wanted to hurt myself. I wanted to die.

The outpouring of care and love I received from my family, friends and co-workers was incredible. Seeming strangers came out of nowhere and shared secrets and stories of their losses. It seemed everyone wanted to help. I was humbled.

I often wonder if I am a good friend to people. A good neighbor. A good son. A good employee. I only hope I have been a hundredth as supportive as so many were to me.

A young pup I had chatted with many years prior on Scruff reached out to me and shared a blog he had written about his breakup. It was raw. It was hard to read. It was painful. It was me. In this blog titled “My breakup, My body, Everything Hurts,” Alexander Cheves (https://www.facebook.com/beastlypup) discusses a book, or rather a series of short stories or musings, entitled Gratitude written by Oliver Sacks during the last months of his life as he was preparing to leave this earth due to the terminal cancer that was rapidly shutting down his body. I purchased the book on Amazon. It sat on my nightstand forever. I vowed to read it on my vacation in Fort Lauderdale. I did. It was powerful and I read it in one sitting.

Gratitude is what happens when we have accepted our fate, our lot, our situation, and we are not angry but rather thankful for all the good that has happened. Whether we are faced with our own immortality, the loss of a spouse, child, pet or other loved one, gratitude comes at the tail end of the healing process.

Gratitude is the feeling I have for originally speaking to this insightful young man who came into my life for reasons not yet fully known. For he shared a story with me with which I can relate. Gratitude is my friends and family who listened to me go on and on about my loss. Gratitude is for coming out at work to my boss and it not being a total disaster. Gratitude is knowing so many people cared about me. I never realized how many friends I had until John left. Gratitude is the world bringing me John to begin with. For he had a curiousity about the world that was unmatched by anyone I have ever met. He taught me to appreciate nature, to comb the beach for shells, to take the path less travelled in the woods, to take chances. Gratitude is knowing that John is getting back on his feet and is doing well. Gratitude is everyone that has come into my life the last 6 months. I have learned to judge less, love more, and open my heart to new experiences.

A new friend asked me this morning if I was ready to date again. I didn’t know how to answer him at first. I don’t think we ever know when the time is right. But I do know that I wish to once again love so intensely it seems foolish. I miss the “second set of eyes” (quoting Alex) that helped me see the world around me. I miss the warmth of someone next to me in bed. I miss my best friend. Am I ready to experience that again? I am. I hope I do. And I hope I can be a wonderful partner to someone some day. I forgot who sent this to me but I love it:

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
–Maya Angelo

I hope that someday soon I will post new travel pictures that John will be a part of as my friend and for that I will have the most gratitude.

Life and Death, part 1

I remember sitting on the beat up fold up chair under the funeral home tent the day my mother was buried.  I sat there in the hot August sun in what few dress clothes I owned at Bear Creek cemetery, the sour words of the southern baptist preacher still ringing in my ears as I sat there wondering what to do next.  After people came around and offered me their empty condolences with a smile and a handshake, I finally gathered enough of myself to get up and leave the tent and stand in what little breeze there was.  But of course, my solitude didn’t last as family came to be near me, to pester me with their presence as they often did.  I wanted nothing to do with them.  I wanted to go home and I wanted my mother.

I stood off to the side and watched as the gravediggers and some of my step siblings shoveled the Carolina red clay dirt into the hole that held her casket.  I vividly remember watching my step brother James fill in the hole as quickly as he could and hating him with each shovel load.  We’ve never really gotten along in my entire life, and I’m glad I haven’t seen him since the last family get together I went to.

After that day, it was just my father and I at home.


I remember everything about the day I was born.  I still bear the scars.


Seven months, one semester of college and a new job later, my father died.  I was the first to find out from a police officer who came to my work looking for me.  I still remember his face, strong and stern, clean cut with eyes hidden behind mirror shades.  I could tell it pained him having to be the one to tell me my father was at the hospital, but I thanked him and ran to my manager to tell him I needed to leave.  I remember after being given the news in the reception area of the emergency room struggling to piece it all together.  What was I to do?  What did they expect of me?  Why was this happening to me!?!?  I called my friend Wendy and she picked me up at the hospital to take me home so I could tell the others.  When I saw her in the parking lot coming for the ER door, I ran out to meet her and began to scream as loudly as I could.  I had lost everything that day, I just didn’t know it yet.  We went home and I called his sister, Irene, first.  Being one of his last remaining relatives I thought she’d like to know that her brother was dead.  After a few more calls, we went back to the hospital.  While we were all gathered there, the snake that was his sister had come to the house and went through every single thing of daddy’s in the house.  Once we had completed our talk with the mortician about what to do with the body, we went back home and were greeted by Irene and her greed.  She presented by brother Brad with a stack of papers and proclaimed that my father owed her money.  She didn’t care that he was dead, all she cared about was herself.  Disgusted, I went to my bedroom and closed the door and wondered what to do next.  My job had come to an end that day as well, not that it mattered much.  What came next was an eternity in the dark.  With his death, Irene automatically got his half of the estate, and once that legality was finally over, I was forced out of the only home I had known for 18 years.  I will never forgive that woman for the grief she’s caused in the name of her own greed and self interest, and I hope that if there is a Hell, hers is suitably a miserable one.  Her worthlessness is a topic for another post at another time.  What I meant by an eternity in the dark was, this was when I started sleeping during the day a lot more and staying awake at night.  I remember long nights on the phone with friends who tried to keep me occupied and playing video games until the wee hours of the morning.  Eventually the day of eviction came and I was shipped off to my sister’s house in one fell swoop.  Living with her was a fate worse than death since we never got along as children and we certainly didn’t get along as adults.  But again, another post for another time.

Every day since then, I’ve reflected on what a terrible person I must be for the fates to deal me such a blow.  Often I am told that I’m a good person, but I rarely believe it.  No amount of atonement the rest of my life will free me of this sin.


In the end, they all bowed before me.


A few years, many life changes later, my dear friend Candice passed away due to her own stubbornness.  Diagnosed as diabetic, she kept consuming sweets until it ultimately killed her.  The only mercy was that she died at home with her husband and children in her sleep.  That’s how I’d like to die, in my sleep.  I was in the car with my adopted mother on the way to the funeral home, talking like nothing was wrong.  We pulled in the parking lot and went inside.  As we approached the door, I was invincible.  I was ten feet tall and bullet proof.  Then we opened the doors and all the ghosts from my past were there in disapproving silence.  I looked around the room at them all and we were equally as surprised to see each other I think.  I sat quietly through another bullshit religious sermon from southern baptists, and witnessed the birth of a complete fucking disaster as my dear friend Jason got up in front of the whole room and declared that he was willing to bury the hatchet.  I, on the other hand, was not.  For you see, some of the ghosts in that room disapproved of my sexuality, and Jason’s, but unlike him I had no room for these people in my life anymore.  I didn’t want them in my life either.  I often imagine Jason’s funeral being in the same room with the same ghosts.  I also imagine this is the moment when I finally tell them all off once and for all:  that they were no good, terrible awful excuses for human beings and they didn’t deserve to have him in their lives.  I like to delude myself into thinking that I’m the only good thing in his life, though I know that’s not true.

After the sermon and some words from her father, we went out to the waiting area where I was approached by my ghosts and given hugs and empty apologies.  One even mentioned how I denied her friend request on Facebook to which I curtly replied “people play nice at funerals” and spoke no further.


Came from the gutter, just missed the grave, now looking down the barrel of today


The next one caught all of us by surprise.  Tyler, desperate to find work enlisted in the military and was deployed to Afghanistan.  We never saw him alive again.  The official report was that he was crushed by a hardened hate when it fell off the hinges.  I didn’t dare look at the body at the receiving.  I always hated that part.  I’ll never forget the waxy expressions of my mother or father as they laid there. I prefer to remember people when they were alive.  We gathered that morning at the graveside service.  I had just finished a 12 hour shift the night before and couldn’t sleep knowing what that day held for me.  I sat there in my house, numbly waiting fir the time to come.  I got dressed and ready hours beforehand, already ready to get it over with, already ready to move on.  Goodbyes are always the hardest things, especially when it’s the last goodbye.  This day was the first day I had ever seen my friend William shed a tear or show any sort of negative emotion.  After a speech from his friend Troy, we walked as a group up to where he would be buried up the hill from the receiving room.  Trying to occupy ourselves we talked about him all the way there, remembering all the good times.  Afterward, we went to lunch to eat, which I promptly slept part of the way through out of exhaustion.  I also remember gathering with my family at my house that night and having drinks and thinking about Tyler.  There will always be a bottle of that horrible Aftershock liquor he liked in my cabinet.


Death is not the greatest loss in life…


Once I met a man.  A beautiful, bright, sexy, intelligent man.  I was his possession, his toy, his lover.  He lived in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.  I could write volumes about him.  About the way he made me feel, the way he looked in the sunlight at Longwood Gardens, his jokes, his laugh.  We had a huge argument shortly before he died and I stopped talking to him.  He sent apologies that I ignored.  I was angry and I was through with his bullshit and his lies.  About a week (maybe two, I don’t remember at this point) after his last apology, I got a message from a friend of his on Facebook.

The first time I went to see him in Philadelphia, I met one of his friends who went out drinking with us.  His name was Joe and this would be the only time I ever met him.  Shortly after this meeting, he took an job in New York City and left Philly, and Jeffery, behind.

Joe was the one that messaged me on Facebook.  He sent me his phone number and asked me to call him.  At first I was angry because I thought that Jeffery had conned him into getting in touch with me because I wouldn’t answer him.  Then after I calmed down, I decided that maybe something was wrong and I gave Joe a call.  He told me that Jeffery had died the day before of a massive heart attack while on his way to work.  I often wonder if I was on his mind at all before he died.  Was he at all sorry for what he did?  For the way he treated me before I stopped talking to him?  When Joe had told me that he was dead, I was devastated.  I hadn’t felt guilt or pain like that since my parents’ passing.  I had managed to get in touch with his cousin, Mary Lou, who was in charge of his funeral and such.  I asked her to let me know when and where the funeral was going to be so I could attend.  She informed me that it was going to be in Laconia, New Hampshire and he would be buried in his family’s cemetery, but it wouldn’t take place until warmer months since Laconia was still a frozen wasteland in February.

The months crawled by and the longer I waited to hear about the funeral, the less I cared about going.  Finally, when the middle of summer came and I still heard nothing after trying to get in touch with Joe or his other friend Owen, I assumed that I just wasn’t going to be told, that I had once again been forgotten.  If I ever find the courage or the desire to go to his gave, I know where he is.


…the greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.


He asked me “when does it stop?” and the vicious, wrathful part of my mind clasped it’s spindly fingers together and whispered “never” though I opted to tell him the gentler answer of “it doesn’t, you just get used to it.”  Ever since Ivey’s death, Jason hasn’t been the same.  He is just beginning a very long journey that I have been on for years, and I don’t know how he’s going to make it.  Candice’s death took him a very long time to deal with and I’m certain he’s not completely over it either.  It’s killing me watching this all unfold from the sidelines and not being able to do anything to help.


It’s a shame you won’t live.  But then again, who does?