July 26

My Only Niece

My only niece, who was wonderful, kind, caring, good to her family, and loved horses, took her own life recently. It’s the only death I’ve experienced that has impacted my life in a very negative way. Other people I cared about have died, but they were older, and I was prepared for it. Suicide isn’t an act of selfishness. It isn’t a crime. It’s something that happens to a desperately sad person who just can’t continue on living. They don’t understand how much everyone aches after they are gone.

To my niece, I would like to say that I love you, and I forgive you for all of the pain I feel right now. To anyone else who is contemplating suicide, you don’t know it now, but people will hurt for the rest of their lives the moment you die. The pain you feel as someone who is suicidal is the pain that people who knew you feel after you die, except it doesn’t go away for them.

The words that I write are coming from a person who has been suicidal, has had a father attempt suicide, has had a friend attempt suicide, and has had a niece kill herself. In every single case, they were sure that death is what they wanted, but after the attempt, every person, even my niece, decided they wanted to live.

In the end, everyone wants to live. That’s the strange thing about suicide. You can never be successful in completing suicide because all people truly want to live. For those who do complete suicide, they just died before they got a chance to come back from near death. My niece, in the end, wanted to live. She, like every other suicidal person I’ve known, begged for her life to be saved. She went from being sure she wanted to die to sure she wanted to live, but it was too late for her. Her family and an excellent medical team couldn’t save her life, even though they did everything right.

Her parents had recognized the signs and were doing absolutely everything they could to improve the situation. Everyone did everything they could, but in the end, it is the suicidal person who makes the decision. If anyone who is suicidal reads this, please know that there is a better way out than ending your life. Realize that, although you don’t feel it now, you do want to live.

Now, I try everyday not to cry, but the tears keep falling.

To my only niece, I love you, goodbye forever.

Suicide Prevention

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August 17

Confusing Love

Ring

“I don’t want to go over there tomorrow.”

“Leslie, I’m going to meet your parents. It’s already arranged.”

“I know. I, know!” Leslie returned.

“Please be ok with this. It’s a very very important step in our relationship.”

“I know Jamie. I, know! It’s not you. It’s them. They can be a little difficult.”

“Everyone’s parents are difficult. My parents wanted me to marry someone with a doctorate, but here I am, engaged to someone with a bachelor degree.”

“Don’t tease, your parents love love love me, and you don’t have a doctorate.”

“I’m working on it,” Jamie said with a hearty laugh.

I made sure to get to my parents place the next day before Jamie, so I could try to prepare them, and I was hoping they would say the worst things to me and not to Jamie.

“Button up your shirt, I can see your birthmark,” mom directed dad, who had a strange Florida shaped birthmark on his chest.

“Mom, Jamie is coming soon, so is there anything you want to ask me now, so you don’t embarrass me in front of her?”

“Jamie is a girl?”

“Yes, Jamie is a girl. I thought you knew.”

“I didn’t know. I assumed you were still dating boys.”

“Mom, I dated one man, once, ever.”

My dad used this as an opportunity to get in on the action and said: “look, if our son Les wants to date a beautiful woman with ripe titties and a sweet tasting fuck hole, than he should.”

Mom gave dad an evil look while saying: “David, don’t talk to Leslie like that.”

Dad angrily returned with: “call him Les, damn it. Why did I ever let you give him that fag name, and why are you trying to get him to be gay. The poor guy is dating a chick with a more manly name than him. He doesn’t want to be a gay anymore. He wants the sweet smell of pussy on his cock.”

“David! Leslie was my grandfather’s name.” Mom said with feigned shock.

I give them both my best look of disappointment when I say: “OK guys, I’m glad that you got that out of your system before Jamie got here. Now, please do your best to behave like civilized members of society. I love her, and I’m going to marry her. There is one more thing I wanted to tell you.”

The doorbell rings. Dad quickly buttons his shirt, opens the door, and says: “she’s black.”

Mom looks a bit upset and quickly retorts: “David, don’t be racist.”

“I’m not being racist this time. She actually is black.” He looks at Jamie and says: “you are black right? You’re not one of those Cubans that just looks black?”

“I..”

Jamie was about to speak before my mom interrupted her with: “you don’t tell them they’re black. They already know they’re black. You’re not even supposed to notice.”

“Of course you’re going to notice. I mean, really? Look at her. She looks black, mostly. How do you not notice that?” My dad asks.

“Jamie, meet Edith and Archie,” I say.

My mom shoots me a glance and says: “that’s not nice Leslie. I’m Nancy, and this is my husband David. We’re Leslie’s parents, and we’re very honored to meet you.”

“It is nice to meet you,” my dad said after a bit of a pause.

Jamie has a concerned look on her face and a defeated posture when she says: “nice to meet you” then asks: “who are Edith and Archie?”

My father quickly returns with: “they’re like what the Jefferson’s are to you people.”

With raised eyebrows and a gaping mouth, Jamie lets out: “oh.”

“So, are your parents OK with you marrying a white man?” Dad asks Jamie.

Jamie, almost afraid to answer the question says: “yes; I have one white and one black parent, so I think they would be fine if I married anyone. Although, I don’t know my dad, but I assume he would be fine with it.”

“I here that happens a lot,” my dad thoughtlessly belts out.

Jamie looks genuinely confused when she asks: “what does?”

My dad looks a bit hurt by the question and fires back: “I’m not trying to get in a fight or anything. I just heard that a lot of black fathers go missing.”

Nobody said anything for a moment. Even my mom can’t believe he said that.

Jamie, saddened and serious says: “my dad is white.”

My mom looks shocked when she says: “Oh!” She stammers a bit and continues with: “David, you’ve upset everyone. Her father is probably dead.”

“Jamie, I’m so very sorry. This is a disaster. Lets just go,” I say while grabbing her hand and yanking a bit.

My dad, for the first time ever, swallowed his pride and said: “I’m sorry too. We, that is, I just don’t know better. I’m ignorant and don’t get out much. Please forgive me.”

“It’s OK. Um, yeah. I don’t think my dad is dead. My mom didn’t know it at first, but he was married, maybe still is. He chose not to be a part of our lives, so he wouldn’t have to upset his wife, I guess. I never tried to find him because I’m guessing he didn’t want to found.”

“That’s terrible. Do you know anything about him?” Mom asked as though we were in group counseling.

“No. I haven’t even seen a photo of him. All I know is that he’s white, lives around here, and has a birthmark somewhere on his body that’s shaped like a state.”

Me, mom, and dad all look at each other in utter shock. What the hell do I do now?

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December 9

Certain things aren’t negotiable in life

The Other Sister
The Other Sister (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many years ago, due to a very sad series of events, I lost touch with my sister, Mandy. She wasn’t more than a few years old, and I was barely legal to drink in all of North America. I got married young, moved away, went to university, graduated from university, moved further away, had a child, then started a career. Yes, it was in that order, and it all happened between 1999 and 2002.

In that time, I lost touch with my father’s daughter (my sister). As it turns out, he decided his days as a father were over, so he abandoned his little girl, leaving Mandy with her mother. Recently, I was able to find Mandy’s mother, Natasha. I was eager to connect with Mandy again, even though we haven’t seen each other in 14 years. To her, I wouldn’t even be a memory, only a stranger that she has heard about once in a while.

It saddens me that I let this time pass, but I’m not the kind of person to keep regrets. I’m the kind of person to fix the mistakes of my past. Although I let my father bully me into not seeing Mandy for all these years, deep down, I feel that it’s my fault. I’ve always known that my father is a bad person. I knew he had his best interests in mind, but I kept doing what he said.

From this experience, I now know that regardless of the cost, regardless of what I could lose, there are certain things that aren’t negotiable in life. A relationship with my sister is not negotiable. It had to exist. If I lost my father because of it, that would be his fault. Now, I’m struggling to start a relationship with my sister, and my father stopped talking to me years ago because he got everything he wanted from me.

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November 9

If there is nothing worthwhile to be gained by fighting, #forgiveness is the only thing that makes sense.

Oscar and Dad Playing Catch
Oscar and Dad Playing Catch (Photo credit: Phil Scoville)

“He’s in there Ryan. He doesn’t say much though, but go ahead in.”

“Right, well, uh, thank you.”

I walk into a sterile smelling room with a bed, a TV, and an old man who I don’t recognize.

“Hey Dad.”

He says nothing in return, not even moving his head to look at me.

“I came here because I love you, and I want to forgive you. I want to move beyond the past and think about today and tomorrow.”

He coughs, but it feels like he’s coughing at me, as if to say that he doesn’t care what I think.

“You never really cared what I thought, did you? I remember how funny you thought it was to sit on my face and fart when I was a little kid. I didn’t think that was funny. I hated it. I asked you to go outside and toss a baseball around with me, and you were always too busy. You were always too busy to spend time with me, but you were never too busy to watch old reruns of Taxi, MASH, and All in the Family. You never once watched anything I liked on TV. You really had no interest in spending time with me did you? Why would you even have kids? What’s funny about that is I don’t have a single good memory that I can think of where it was just you and I hanging out. I mean, I pretty much mentioned all the good times we had, getting my face farted on and watching old people television that I was too young to understand. The bad times where you beat me and told me how worthless I was – those were really bad times. I don’t care about the stories of how your mom used to throw ashtrays at your head because you’re a bad person. Do you remember when I had to go to school and explain black eyes that you had given me? Do you remember breaking a mirror with my sister’s head? Everybody looked at me; they knew you were hitting me, but I told them the lies that you told me to tell, and they accepted them. I wanted to tell everyone the truth, but you always told me how I would get taken away from you and put into a foster home where I would be beaten worse, fed less, and maybe even molested.”

My hands are shaking from the anger, but he says nothing. He just sits there drooling. I reach over and grab his collar, pulling him toward me so that our noses are touching. He has to look at me. He has to understand.

“If all that wasn’t bad enough, you leave my mom, your wife, our family when I was 17. I needed you then, and I could barely get you on the phone. You went and had a kid with another woman, and I accepted that child as my sibling, until you abandoned that family too and didn’t even bother to show up to my wedding. I still got past all of that, but when your new wife ripped me off, stealing money from me, you got behind her and never spoke with me again.”

My hands are shaking, and I’m crying. I set him back down again, fix his shirt, and say: “I just wish I knew why, but it doesn’t matter.”

It really doesn’t matter. His motives don’t matter. His actions are everything, and he was a terrible Dad.

“I forgive you Dad. This is a clean slate. I had my say, and now I start from here. I see you from this moment on for whatever you are from now on. Look, I know your birthday is coming up soon. I’ll see you again on your birthday OK?”

He actually looks like he’s trying to say something. He doesn’t move his head but he’s mustering sounds carefully from his mouth, so I get up close and put my ear near his mouth.

“Don’t . . . don’t.”

He stops talking.

“Don’t what, Dad?”

“Come . . .”

“What are you trying to say?”

“Back . . .”

“Don’t come back? You don’t want me to come back on your birthday? I can come another day. I know you hate celebrating your birthday.”

“Ever . . .”

More tears roll down my face, but I’ve still forgiven him. I won’t take that back. We both need that peace. He is a terrible father. What did I expect?

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