Indelible and true…

Indelible and true…

When we consider our own mortality, many are drawn off the path of reality by romanticism, history, pathos, self-indulgence, vanity or hubris. Death is not something we see for what it is.  It’s not hard to see why. We fail to take cognisance of some of the harsher aspects to our demise, and for good reason.  No one wants to look such a creature in the eye. Yet I doubt we will ever be closer to ourselves than in those final moments.  To quote a line from my Darkly Wood, “death is such an intimate thing”.

Loss is a troublesome weight.  It knocks you over with the force of a double decker bus and lingers as grief while you struggle to recover. No one person feels the same.  I know I struggled with grieving in my younger days and it left scars that were unexpected. The consequences were significant and it was only in hindsight that I can see how it laid waste to my spirit for such a long time.

Although I came through it, I was oblivious to the havoc caused until I had learned to cope, but by then of course the damage was done. Through those experiences, I still chose to avoid the subject of death, or at least I chose not to analyse the prospect of my own demise with any honest introspection.  But then of course death came to my door, and surprised me with its kiss. I have felt its caress and though it seems like an age gone now, it has had an impact on me, left its mark indelible and true, and it has undoubtedly changed me.

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There is discomfort, disquiet and dilemma when it comes to the very darkest of words.  As a student I was drawn to John Donne’s Death Be Not Proud, and to this day I can recite it by heart. It was perhaps my youth that drew me to it, my belief, that special thing of youth that can make us feel invincible, untouchable almost.

It is that very word that is maligned, avoided, diluted where possible, as if in admitting its existence we will fall to its graces. We do it without noticing.  He passed away – the departed – the priest on the pulpit who says we lost a good woman – the condolence of, I am sorry for your loss. The language around death, fails to adequately prepare those closest to those at its doorstep, for the moment when it will come.

When someone is terminally ill, we hear people talk of the illness and not the result.  When asked, a person is more likely to explain that the person in question has cancer rather than say, he’s dying.  I have heard it so many times, people avoiding the D word in all sorts of ways.  She is in intensive care, sure he has not long to go, it won’t be long now, the doctor’s don’t hold out much hope.

To say he or she is dying is almost impossible, yet it is a term that we should perhaps be thought to understand, respect and bring back to life. Maybe it is the fear of getting it wrong, for it is such a final word. But you know, there are times when it is such an inevitable thing that it is quite simply the whole truth.

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I died. It was a brief and fleeting thing I know and had someone referred to me afterwards in CCU as dying, it would of course have been inaccurate for I came through it in the end. But there are circumstances when there is no getting away from it.

Where am I going with this?  I guess I am trying to square that circle of death and grief.  My grief was extended through a failure to come to terms with what had happened to my mother for example. Her passing – her death- was sudden, sharp and devastating.  It was literally life changing for a young man like me.  I had lost my father- he died – just 2 short years before my Mam but he went through a prolonged and in truth more difficult slow march to his end, suffering as he did with lung cancer. Dying because of it.  By the time my brother passed ( you see how easy it is to avoid the word) way too young at 53, I had at least begun to understand some of how loss was impacting my spirit. But it was the avoidance, the conflict of knowing the truth and trying to dodge the sharpest edge of the pain, that perhaps meant I inflicted unnecessary suffering on my soul.

Death, dying dead.  They are words to embrace before they fall in our lap. People die. It is the harshest truth of all.  I think we handle it quite well in Ireland and still we fall short.  We celebrate the life of our dear departed, and I have been to many a fine wake in my lifetime, but still we miss the moment sometimes.

How hard it must be for a doctor to pass the news that a loved one had died – to use the word. I remember when my mother died, that a young policeman and woman had to be present for me to identify her as she lay still and unfamiliar in her hospital bed.  I doubt I will see such discomfort again and still neither of them used the dreaded D word.

Perhaps I am wrong.  It is avoided for good reason maybe, but by avoiding it through many years of grief, long since passed I am pleased to say, I became an expert at such deceit and I did myself a disservice.

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I will leave you with my memory of my own dying moments and while perhaps they come from my naturally melancholy soul, they can be taken for what they are at face value, or one can read more into it, if that is one’s inclination. I recall that my strongest feeling as I realised what was happening was sadness. My life didn’t pass before my eyes but I felt sad not for myself, not at all.  I was sad because I thought of my darling Joanna and my wonderful children. In that direst of moments I didn’t want to leave the burden of my passing on their sweet shoulders and perhaps that is what saved me, I don’t know. Somehow I doubt it.

I didn’t let go, I was pulled away from life and it was dramatic and harsh and surprising in my case, yet it was my melancholia that rose to the surface.  That is thus for everyone I doubt.  Maybe we live our last moments as we truly are, who knows.  I can only speak for myself.

Coming through the other side was an entirely different matter. Frequent visitors to my site know what followed me back from the far side and I have yet to understand the nature of the beast.  What I do know is that having been touched by the sword; I am more in touch with the nature of its blade. Death is nothing to fear, dying is just a word. Loss on the other hand is something we all will suffer but perhaps suffer less if we come to take back the words that frightens us most…

Haven’t read a Max Power book yet?  I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

Four powerful words…

Four powerful words…

There’s nothing like a bit of adventure. From an early age I had a bit of a grá (love) for anything that hinted of adventure. It came from my love of books and movies I guess, as well as the restrictions imposed on me by growing up in a working class suburb of Dublin all those years ago. We weren’t poor but poverty was never far away and we were all very familiar with it’s grasp. There was no guarantee that any of us would make it out of that life. I was fortunate but while I waited for the world to find me, I took every opportunity that came my way.

I came from a tough place in many ways, harsh and unforgiving to anyone who showed a sign of weakness, clawing and grasping, always trying to pull you in and keep you bound to where you were planted. There was nothing wrong with my roots, it was a fine upbringing in many ways but I knew there was more to the world and I desperately wanted to see it all.  How could I find it if I didn’t take some chances.? I instinctively knew that I needed wings and chose to believe even as a little tot, that I had them.  

Believing set me free.  I tried to take off so many times but my wings didn’t seem to open. Perhaps they weren’t strong enough at first.  It didn’t matter. I flutterflied around like a floaty little sprite completely unaware of my apparent affliction. All I knew was that if I kept trying, some day my wings would catch the wind and I would soar.

But wings are delicate things and spirits even flimsier. To run from atop a roof and jump full of belief is one thing, to do it a second time when you have hit the ground hard the first time, is a more onerous proposition. I had my fair share of falls but each time I would stand back up, a little tyke in short trousers, I’d shake my mop of blonde hair and brush the dirt from my bleeding knees, and look back up at the roof. There was always only one thing to do, try again tomorrow.

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Sometimes I’d dawdle. Looking back I’m surprised I just didn’t give up sometimes, but there was adventure to be had and I knew instinctively that it couldn’t be had, crying over a cut knee. As I got older and grew gangly-headed into my teens, I still hadn’t managed to get my damned wings to fly.  There were moments where I’d run and jump and it felt like the wind held me and my spirit would glide a little.  It felt incredible.  Little things, tiny victories over my adolescent insecurities made me believe again, but it was becoming harder to maintain the belief that had carried my littler self through childhood. I remember the story of the little train who thought he could, and I tried hard to use that as a thread of self-belief when all about me told me different.

My world told me that I couldn’t be or wouldn’t be. I grew bigger and bolder within myself, still wanting, still hoping, worrying that maybe I was foolish to belief my gossamer wings would ever hold my weight. I was still a boy not yet a man, when I got some work experience with a business at the airport.  It was a glamorous world to a boy like me. My boss drove a fancy car and I mingled with the world as they came and went through that place, taking off to places with names that sounded so exotic, places I had only ever read about in books.

One day a customer was having coffee with my boss when he referred to where I lived.  He said that he had driven through as fast as he could.

“Wouldn’t want to stop at the lights or they’d have the wheels off.” That’s what he said and I was standing right behind him. He had no idea he was speaking about my neighbours.  But my boss did and I remember how he looked at me over his shoulder, embarrassed for not saying something, perhaps in truth agreeing with the man. I wasn’t sure. But I did something that day that changed me I think. I spoke up and I spoke plainly.

“That’s where I live.”

They were four of the most powerful words I had ever spoken. He turned and looked at me. I was still a flitterling, a wisp of a lad in a cheesecloth shirt and jeans, looking down the barrel of a man of substance.  He was a big man, brash and opinionated, with all of the confidence that I only imagined possible. He came from a different world.  His was a world of wealth and privilege. He was a confident man, my elder, my better and I had stepped across a line that surprised even me.

I didn’t know what to expect but I did not expect his response. For a second he glowered at me, but I stood there like I had come across a grizzly in the woods and had decided to challenge it. Incredibly I was fearless.  There was something about the way he spoke that had really bothered me, and the fact that my boss had cowered and shied away from defending me, had made me feel angry.

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I can’t remember the man’s name, but I’ll never forget the look on his face.  His knotted brow dropped slack as his cheeks went red.  I let the silence hang and the air between us putrefied with his discomfort.

“I…I…There… I mean…Of course… I didn’t…”

He was looking for a way to say he wasn’t referring to me of course but by default still insulting everyone I knew.  I raised my hand palm forward and he stopped. I turned and walked away and left him to his discomfort.

It was a small thing in many ways, but it was bigger than you can imagine. Those four words gave me something I didn’t immediately recognise. I had stood up as a boy against man, a boy from a neighbourhood with a bad reputation to challenge a man of wealth and supposed class, and I had crossed a divide.

In that moment, I had levelled the playing pitch for the rest of my life. No one was better than me. No one could say it or think it or feel it in my presence ever again. Later that day my boss came to me and I half expected a rollicking. He told me instead that he admired how I had handled myself and said that he had been too embarrassed to challenge the man. He told me he had been incredibly impressed with my coolness and confidence in the situation. For my part, I was a little disappointed in him. Where I had stood up, he had let himself down. 

It was a Friday afternoon and he told me to head off a little early. I went downstairs, unlocked my bicycle and swung my leg across onto the saddle.  It was a glorious summer’s evening and I had a fifteen mile cycle ahead of me.  But on a day like that it was easy, I simply spread my wings and took flight…

 

Haven’t read a Max Power book yet?  I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

Lurking in the shadows of my shadows…

Lurking in the shadows of my shadows…

Introspection is a dangerous thing.  Sometimes we can over analyse the crinkles in our souls. Mine is a ragged mess which I have tried to hide with a muslin cloth of daily activity. I daren’t look too close for fear that what lies beneath the delicate fabric is something different than I remember.

My better self is not easy to find. I think perhaps I only have the one that sits on the wall outside my house, dangling my legs like the boy I still am, hoping that someone will come out to play. There is no other me on a shelf somewhere, no better me, just the scrag-end feeling too sad, too often and holding in the tears so no-one knows my secret.

But you have to peek beneath a cloth like that don’t you? When I am at my lowest, when my dark shadow monster Mr. Squiggles comes to visit me, there is nowhere for me to hide. I wonder about him often.  That he is not a constant in my life, that he has stayed away for a while now, offers me the time to look a little closer at him in his absence.

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I am not religious.  The Catholic Church worked hard to beat it into me as a boy, but instead crushed it out of me.  I am unleavened bread.  There is no depth to my former Christianity. I attended a funeral recently and I still knew all the words, but I can no longer allow them to slip from my lips in a lie.  It has been a long time since they have.

Is the absence of this former God in my life, the hole in my psyche that allows Mr. Squiggles to creep through when I am vulnerable? Like a sneak thief he comes to visit when I accidentally forget to put the latch on my soul’s window. That dark shadow man just watches me.  I have seen him scent the air, raising his head to smell me like a piece of meat. When he comes, he is the wolf and I the lamb.

But as a man of science not religion, I cannot believe what my eyes tell me and I have tried to rationalise his visits. I have failed. It may be hard to imagine believing the unbelievable, especially if like me you believe that there simply must be a logical explanation for everything. I think that if there is no explanation, I simply don’t have enough information or knowledge to find the answer, but I know there surely must be one.

Let me give you an example. I was once given a miraculous medal, a gift from my maternal grandmother.  I lost it several times but it always found its way back to me. Over the years, more miraculous medals have appeared and I have lost them. I have never purchased one or sought them out, I am after all a godless man. Why then do I keep the medal? I said I was godless, I never said I wasn’t sentimental.  When I found a second medal in my wallet, not knowing how it got there, I started to keep it in my car ashtray (I don’t smoke)   When I changed cars on 2 separate occasions I forgot to take the medal leaving me again with one, only for another brand spanking new one to appear somewhere on my travels.  In the past couple of weeks I came across 2 more medals. Where? One in my shirt pocket and one in my wallet. Don’t ask me how, I didn’t put them there.  I now possess four in total and I have no idea how.

Perhaps I have a secret miraculous medal benefactor you might say, or I have blackouts and subconsciously buy them in secret.  I hardly think so, but I know there has to be a reason. I just don’t know it yet. Much like my Mr. Squiggles, it is one of quite a few unexplainable things in my life. There must be an explanation I am sure but I am so far in the dark.

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I have crafted myself a cloak of invincibility but it is like gossamer. I whet my life sword to battle through and I wet my lips with the excitement of each new journey that I begin. There is an adventurer in me, and time left for more adventures I hope.  But that part of me is only possible as long as I don’t look under the muslin cloth covering my darkness.

You might think it is that easy, just don’t look.  I have to look. There is a tether there. It pulls me back and ties me in; afraid my wings will set me free of the despair within.  But my flight is more mayfly than butterfly and my brief attempts to soar, leaves me spent of joy, and exhausted from the effort to draw free of my link to the darkness beneath my covers.

It is there that Mr. Squiggles finds me I think. Yet he is not drawn from the darkness, rather he is of the darkness. There is a chill I feel when he is near. I dare not open my eyes at that very personal witching hour, for I always know when he is due and he is never late. No matter how dark the night, he visits me at such times and he is darker than any nightshade.

The worst of him came as I lay in my hospital bed having come back from the brink, and I know I brought him with me from that place.  He was happy and free that first night. Excited to have found his form again like some genie in a bottle, he was loose and he sought out those waiting to cross back over. Perhaps he needed an exchange to remain free I don’t know, but when he finally settled on my window ledge that night, I knew he was waiting for me.

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He is patient my shadow man.  He will wait.  Several weeks have passed now and he has not called on me. But I know he is close. I know he is lurking, waiting in the shadows of my shadows and he will find me again. That I know him, yet know nothing of him, makes him no more or less real. That I cannot believe his existence nor deny it, can only mean I am lacking the knowledge to understand. But he is real. He is dark, my Mr. Squiggles.  He is dark and he is quiet, and he has patience. There will come a night soon when he will return. I do not fear him but I also know that one night he will come and he will do more than watch me from the corner or from my window sill. That perhaps is the night to fear for I know on that night; he will look for me to go with him…

Haven’t read a Max Power book yet?  I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood