03 June 2009

On My Way

The record-keeping department at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center sent my EKG to Dr. Bowers--finally! Jamie, who has worked at C-L for some time, took over that department and he was able to overcome the fact that someone lost--again!--the release form I signed more than a month ago, on the day I had the EKG and my HIV test.

Now all I have to do is pay the balance I have left with Dr. Bowers. And, hopefully, there won't be any more snafus. I wish only that someone was going with me: Today Mom told me she and Dad definitely won't. I knew that, but she finally admitted it. I can't blame her: Four days after being released from the hospital, Dad is behaving exactly as he did before: He's sitting in his chair with a blanket over his head. Who knows what will happen next?

Some of you might say it's not my job, but I feel that somehow I can say or give something to him that will help him to climb out of the abyss into which he's been sinking. Two metaphors come to mind for what he seems to be experiencing: meltdown and cancer.

I actually told him that his depression is a bit like the latter: I think he is correct in believing that it's within him and that he can't do anything about it. (One doctor told him, as I suspected, that's it's biochemical and possibly hereditary.) But, he can keep it in remission, so to speak, and live with it. Just as there are no "magic bullet cures"--or cures of any other kind--for cancer (at least not yet), there's nothing that will destroy the black hole within him that's feeding on everything else that's in his mind. But he can stop it, freeze it, or otherwise render it powerless, at least for some time--long enough for him to be the good husband and father he laments not having been.

For a long time, I thought I was a naturally depressive person. After all, of the first 44 years of my life, I was depressed for at least 35 of them, by my reckoning. Even when I was doing well and behaving with some sort of relative social grace, I thought there was a kind of tornado within me that imploded and sucked in potential relationships and accomplishments. I thought about suicide all the time--every day from almost the very earliest part of my childhood until I started taking the steps toward my transition. But, I believe, the reason I never did it was that I felt that vacuum, that black hole in me was so powerful that not even my own death could fill it. I mean, if everything and everyone else I destroyed, whether actively or through neglect, couldn't sate that voracious whirlpool of obsidian quicksand, how could anything about my own life or death quell it?

But, thank goddess, that left me when I started my transition and became a memory--though a still-vivid one. So, perhaps, I didn't suffer from true clinical depression, or at least the kind my father seems to have.

Still, I feel as if I have some role in helping my father recover--and in helping my mother weather all of this--but I'm not sure that I'm playing it. I'm drawing upon my own experiences, but am I conveying to him any wisdomI have gained from them, if indeed there is any to be had, much less any that applies to him.

Maybe I'm being grandiose. Perhaps I am just replaying the guilt I felt for so long--and sometimes still feel--over Cori's suicide. I think she knew, deep down, that I felt what she did--or the closest approximation to it that anyone she knew felt--yet I could not acknowledge it to myself, and wouldn't have even if I could have.

I can't help it. I'm getting to live the sort of life I've wanted, and I want to see others do the same, whatever they happen to envision for themselves. I guess the difference is that my father has never envisioned a life for himself--or so it seems. I don't think he could even tell you what his "dream life" would be, aside from living in California and having a red '57 Chevy. (I once promised him that if I ever became fabulously wealthy, I'd buy him one. That promise still holds.) Maybe he doesn't even dream of those things anymore.

As for Mom, well, I think the extent of her wishes right now is for Dad to get better and to be a loving husband, and to see more of her children and grandchildren. She really never wanted that much in the way of material possessions: She always wanted to have an attractive and comfortable house, but she was never interested in status. I think I have inherited those qualities from her.

But, really, as strong a person as she is, she wants a man who is there for her. Like me, she cries sometimes when she's tired. I think all she ever really wanted was for Dad to be the shoulder she could cry on and the arms that would hold her. And, yes, I inherited that from her, too. Neither of us cares much about looks, although I admit that Dominick is cute and I take some pride in being with a man who's so physically attractive. But it's not his looks that attract me, it's the way he looks at me, and the way I can look at him.

Mom is a much better human being than I could ever hope to be if I were to live ten lifetimes. So why can't she have what, basically, simply came my way? I did nothing to earn or deserve it. But I've got it, and I ain't lettin' go. I'm on my way.