March 13, 2001
NOTE: Everything you're about to read appears with the full permission of everyone involved.
So here's what's been happening. My son, Brian, has been fighting depression for two years now. He was justifiably angry with me, because I never saw it. Instead of seeing the most blatant signs, including what he wrote for WHO THE HELL IS LUTHER, I continued to maintain the fiction in my mind that he was doing just fine. I don't have any way to justify why I did this, but it was entirely subconscious. I had no idea of the great extent to which I was fooling myself and letting down my son when he needed me the most. It was only when Brian attempted suicide that he finally got my attention.
Needless to say, every warning sign I had missed suddenly appeared before me in glowing neon, with searchlights pointing around in the air like a Hollywood movie opening. I was utterly appalled at how horrifically I had neglected my son.
While I was attempting to take care of Brian, and not doing a particularly good job of it, I began to feel a subtle change in my condition. I asked Gary to take another look at me on the spiritual plain. This was all done through the intermediary of my close friend, Deb. Gary was going to check in on a Tuesday, and Deb would call me and let me know what he'd found. When I didn't hear from her on Tuesday, then Wednesday, I knew in my gut what the message would be.
Meanwhile, we had begun a course of intensive family therapy (which is still going on), trying to clean up and deal with the tremendous stresses that have been building up in each of us. Thursday night we were dealing with issues of trust. Brian felt - justifiably - that I had let him down again. He was furious with me. He left the room, slamming the door behind him. We were immediately concerned for his safety. Unfortunately, this meant Lynne had to face the full force of his fury alone; as I think may have mentioned, I'm completely stuck in bed. While I lay there, listening to the battle downstairs, I heard the doorbell ring. Deb quietly let herself in to my room. She sat down on the bed and took my hand.
She said, "I didn't want to tell you this over the phone, and I'm sorry I couldn't get here earlier. "
I'd say that my heart fell into my feet, except that my feet were at that moment elevated higher than my chest. So, on a strictly biological level, I have no idea what happened. It felt like the first rumblings prior to an atomic bomb going off.
Deb explained that Gary had looked in on me and seen two light beings, one male and one female, patiently waiting for me. He had told me earlier, "These light beings almost inevitably signify passing over," or, to use the blunt word, "death." By their positioning, he thought I had about six months to live. When Deb objected by telling him I had been working so hard to strengthen my spirit so I could stay on this plane. Gary replied that the contract we make when we're born as to when we will leave is usually inviolable, and no amount of willpower can change it.
On the good news side, when Deb said, "But he doesn't want to leave his family," Gary answered firmly, "He's going to leave his body. He's not going to leave his family." He went on to explain that I would be just as involved in my family's life as I am now. He also added that having accomplished so much work on this side, I would have tremendous power once I crossed over and would be able to influence their lives for the better. The good news hardly cushioned the revelation that I would die before the year was out.
I lay in bed, utterly devastated. The shouting continued downstairs, equally devastating, as I had no way to go down there and try to help. Ten minutes later, Brian and Lynne walked into the room. Brian turned on his mother with a scowl and said, "I need to talk with Dad privately."
I had no idea what to expect, but I cringed inside, afraid that I wouldn't have the strength to deal with Brian's fury at that moment. Brian paced around the room, turned partly toward me, and said, " OK. Here's the deal. I'll forgive you for everything if you'll forgive me in return."
I was stunned by the generosity of his offer. My eyes filled with tears and I managed to choke out, " Of course!"
He came over to shake on the deal and the shake turned into a prolonged hug; during which I cried and apologized for being such a shitty father.
Brian replied, "You are a fine father."
We continued to talk for some time. The tremendous warmth and stunning kindness of his actions completely erased the pain of Gary's message. It would be OK to die, knowing that my son had forgiven me, and knowing that he knew he was forgiven in return. I still can't talk about this without choking up. I have been the recipient of so many miracles in my life. But this one is the supernova in the night sky, brighter than anything.
Lynne was still shaken and emotionally exhausted from her efforts with Brian. I let her sleep without imparting Gary's news.
The next day I resolved to wait for the perfect moment. And following the patterns of all such resolutions, I blurted it out in the first half-hour we were together. Lynne looked as if an A-bomb had gone off behind her eyes as well.
The most difficult part has been telling my friends. And that includes explaining all of this to you right now.
So now, this leaves me with the job of grieving which I want to do as deeply, thoroughly and quickly as possible so that I can move on to the rest of my life. One thing that has come clearly into focus (I should say even more clearly into focus, because I've been aware of it growing for a year now) is the depth and devotion of my love for Lynne and hers for me. Every time either of us feels overwhelmed by The Reaper looming in the future the only thing to say is, "I love you." That and a touch make everything bearable.
So, that's where matters stand. I assume that for many of you who have invested so much time sharing in my life through this page, will be sharing the grieving too. If it feels right for you, send me an email with the subject, "Grief." I'll have Paul compile them into a further chapter. And if you don't have anything to say, that's OK, too. Silence is often eloquent.
I haven't given up all hope entirely, but the nature of my hope has changed radically. On Thursday I go into the ALS clinic, where they are going to try a procedure of shooting some drug into my swollen right hand and arm, which will temporarily release it from its claw-like grip, so it can then be reshaped into a more comfortable position. On the 23rd of the month, they will also be doing extensive testing for a secondary infection, and I have great hopes that they will be able to find it, knock it out, and if that doesn't cause the return of some of my missing functions, at least it'll restore my previous energy level. The hopes and expectations grow smaller, but they're still there. I think that's what's important.
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