Instructions

16 Jun

–You’re giving her too many instructions at the same time. She can’t make heads from tails.
That was her mother. And she was right. She was mostly always right as a mother. And maybe not so much as a wife. I told her that. Throughout the years. But not in so many nice words. Back when there were fights and silent quarrels. Those were awful. The silent ones. Seething and boiling, not wanting to act up in front of the baby. The baby. Everything for the baby. Hide everything from the baby. Don’t let the baby know. Don’t let her see. Just smile. Eating away at night, in the daytime, and everything in between. Lying in separate beds, awake through the night, replaying what I might have said. Should have said. Should have done. Anyway, she was right. I was awful with that. The commands. The instructions. One on top of another on top of another. Poor kid. She’d try to do it, try to keep up, but things inside my head were too disorganized to be a proper parent, and most of the time I ended up just barking out instructions for her. Corrections to corrections. Her first three years were spent listening to an old dog of a father barking senselessly at a full moon. She was right, her mum.

–Dad?
–Yes, love.
–I don’t know how to stop.

And that’s how I failed her. Way back then. I couldn’t help her because I didn’t know how to stop either. It was like stepping back and watching two separate runaway trains heading away from one another on flawed tracks. That’s where I failed her fundamentally. My beautiful baby girl. And it came to me then, in that awful room, staring at my shoes. That repellent ICU room that reeked of piss and bleach. That offensive scene of gauze and still-wet blood and three immigrant women cleaning it all up. It came then, as I watched her ration her last few breaths through a plastic tube in her throat, before they took her down to the basement. To the drawer.
–Dad?
It came in a place where we only say goodbye. Where there’s never comfort, just nervous pacing and waiting. Waiting for bad news. Waiting for doctors. Waiting for nurses. Interns. Men and women in white. White is never comforting.
–Dad?
It came: every stupid plan we make, every dream, every promise and resolution, is just a tiny prayer thrown out to Father Time. Blindly. Without any rationale. Just lousy mysticism.
–Dad?
–Yes, love. Livy.
–I don’t know how to stop. …Dad?

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3 Responses to “Instructions”

  1. brandon 17/06/2008 at 9:15 AM #

    i sometimes don’t know whether to hide it from my kids, or wait until i’m at my ugliest and repulse them with it. it is impossible to know if anything works

  2. The Prevalence of Sensation 18/06/2008 at 8:17 AM #

    Seeping darkness. I can sense it. The violent flutter of wings fighting the stiffening breeze. Coincidence? Timing? Premonition? Reaction? All questions. But feeling. Feeling is an answer. However painful that answer may be. In the end, feeling is all we have.

    ‘Sweep me up.’ yes, thank you Lx and T. You know.

  3. (S)wine 18/06/2008 at 3:19 PM #

    absurdity all around.
    brandon, the truth lies somewhere in between.
    PoS, ’tis.

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