Down for the Count Up, 13

THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY OF THE END, OCTOBER 1, 2019

13 years ago today, I think I knew before I knew.

It was the strangest feeling.

It still is.

.

I took a 20-mile detour on the way home from Lansing this past weekend.

Accidentally, really. Not even on auto-pilot, since it’d been so long since I went that way.

Just a missed turn while I was thinking about the rain and Frosty Boy and my Brookside destination.

Odd to travel that same path so close to the same days. The thing is, the story goes on.

And, again, a warning.

It’s only the beginning of the story of the end.

The reality that followed wasn’t pleasant. It was shocking, bizarre, surreal and sadly, in a glass-half-empty way, expected.

February’d found us listening to a rundown how things might go. How Jeff’s disease and complications would likely progress.

The order was correct: first, he’d be alive, and then, he wouldn’t be.

The timing, though, was fundamentally far-off, greatly misjudged, significantly skewed.

Even when you know what to expect, it’s still unexpected. Quite unbelievable, and unbelievingly challenging for the mind to process.

It’s the sort of thing the heart is much quicker to recognize.

In the same way that Sadie was waiting for me to figure it out, my certain heart was forced to wait for my uncertain mind to follow.

I picked up the phone and dialed 911.

Quote for the week:

Down for the Count Up, 14

Still chronologically undecided, but waiting any longer won’t put the words where I want.

So, I’m walking myself backwards from now to where I started 14 years ago, one year in.

I’m also not sure any of it alone will make any sense. But, here goes, anyway…

~

The Scrambler, October 13, 2020.

At the end. Not really. There is no terminus.

We’re at the end of this line and it’s time to change tracks. Not sure if I’m going by train or plane or bus, on foot strolling or if I’m just going to stand here a while.

The funny stuff doesn’t end here. Some of it still continues. But, there’s this:

Last week someone I don’t know said something that changed everything.

Truly. Everything.

The technical base of this pre-recorded shared philosophy branches out beyond where we normally go.

Merriam-Webster: Addiction 2: a strong inclination to do, use, or indulge in something repeatedly.

The point of the moment was that addiction isn’t limited to drugs or alcohol. Food, gambling, smoking, shopping, sex, video games, internet, social media.

The scrambler? “You can be addicted to grief.”

Well, then.

I’ve felt this way for so long; too long, I admit.

And while it’s comfortable here, cocooned and non-expanding, I don’t think I want to be here anymore.

It’s been way longer than you think; then you know, too.

I’ve been writing pain since, always. I remember sharing a piece I was particularly pre-teen proud of, brought up short by the question: Does everything you write have to be so dark?

Of course, I’ve changed. I write about life: the known, unknown, bad, ugly, cliché.

I didn’t write for a few years. Guess which ones those were? Yep, that short little span of Jeff years.

I don’t think I’m incapable of happy prose. I’d like to think I was just too busy living happy.

Maybe. I don’t know. I just didn’t write. Much. I’ve found a few notes which are entirely inexplicable….

So, the shock of that. That word. Addiction.

I’ve wrapped my head around it, and yeah, I am completely sure. It is what I never considered it could be or would be or was or is.

I’m not nearly in the same spiritual place as when I was misunderstood 14 years ago.

I’m further away now then when I wasn’t at all.

I’m not sure how I’m gonna do this/how long its gonna take.

But, I’m kinda happy with my decision. And that feels … new.

Quote for the Week:

The Scrambler

At the end. Not really. There is no terminus.

We’re at the end of this line and it’s time to change tracks. Not sure if I’m going by train or plain or bus, on foot strolling or if I’m just going to stand here a while.

The funny stuff doesn’t end here. Some of it still continues. But, there’s this:

Last week someone I don’t know said something that changed everything.

Truly. Everything.

The technical base of this pre-recorded shared philosophy branches out beyond where we normally go.

Merriam-Webster: Addiction 2: a strong inclination to do, use, or indulge in something repeatedly.

The point of the moment was that addiction isn’t limited to drugs or alcohol. Food, gambling, smoking, shopping, sex, video games, internet, social media.

The scrambler? “You can be addicted to sadness.”

Well, then.

I’ve felt this way for so long; too long, I admit.

And while it’s comfortable here, cocooned and non-expanding, I don’t think I want to be here anymore.

It’s been way longer than you think; then you know, too.

I’ve been writing pain since, always. I remember sharing a piece I was particularly pre-teen proud of, brought up short by the question: Does everything you write have to be so dark?

Of course, I’ve changed. I write about life: the known, unknown, bad, ugly, cliché.

I didn’t write for a few years. Guess which ones those were? Yep, that short little span of Jeff years.

I don’t think I’m incapable of happy prose. I’d like to think I was just too busy living happy.

Maybe. I don’t know. I just didn’t write. Much. I’ve found a few notes which are entirely inexplicable….

So, the shock of that. That word. Addiction.

I’ve wrapped my head around it, and yeah, I am completely sure. It is what I never considered it could be or would be or was or is.

I’m not nearly in the same spiritual place as when I was misunderstood 14 years ago.

I’m further away now then when I wasn’t at all.

I’m not sure how I’m gonna do this/how long its gonna take.

But, I’m kinda happy with my decision. And that feels … new.

Quote for the Week:

song list for this sort of thing: talking to myself, talking to the sadness.

Billie Eilish IDon’tWannaBeYouAnymore

Blue October Movin’ On

Chrissy Metz Talking to God

Snow Patrol This Isn’t Everything You Are

half-truths, whole lies, and the doubts that remain.

Reprise: The clinic visit biopsy result was clear.

Warning: You may not like what I have to say.

The container I discovered had a September expiry date. The package at the gas station,  also had a September expiration date; just a handful of days later.

The chew wasn’t old and I wasn’t angry. I was astonished and livid. I went directly to the den where the tv was blaring. Jeff was sleeping, so I startled him awake by shouting his name. “What! What?” he came awake, swiveling his head in a panic.

“Here’s what!” I slapped my evidence into Jeff’s hand. “The expiration date.” I clipped. Not completely awake, Jeff stared at me.

“Within a week of Speedway.” I continued. Jeff continued to look puzzled.

“I took it to Speedway, Jeff! It’s NOT old!”

Shaking his head from side to side, he rolled his eyes, and very rhetorically and quite dejectedly, asked, “Why’d ya have to do that?”

My reply was a throw-back, “Why’d you have to?”.

“Don’t do it again, Jeff,” I warned him. I didn’t specifically define which one he shouldn’t do – lie or chew. I assumed he knew it was both.

I have a weird sort of smile on my face as I look back at this one. My warnings were weightless, useless, and void of consequence. If he did it again, it wouldn’t result in any drastic action. I wouldn’t stop loving him. I’d never leave him. It happened. Again, and again. I’d be angry and he’d be sad. He’d be sorry. I’d be forgiving. That’s how it went. Every time.

The thing is… I can’t just leave it on that loving note. That’s not how the story ends for me.

It was a mission trip discussion that clued me in. I have no proof. I’m the only eye-witness. Everything I know, leads to an unpleasant theory.

One of the ladies I evening coffee’d with began a conversation about smoking that revolved around a male member of our team. I mentioned how I’d bugged Jeff to quit smoking way before I think he was really ready to. I shared that the next step for him, in order to avoid smelling like smoke, was a clandestine move to chewing tobacco.

I reiterated the mouth cancer biopsy story and how that’d turned out. Then, went on to share that he never did quit and that it became a sore spot between us. One of my friends asked, “Even after the doctor said it was benign? He didn’t quit?”

“Nope.” I said. “He just couldn’t do it.” I don’t think that he didn’t try. I think he truly did. It just took me a few years to recognize it for what it was; an unbreakable addiction.

Hours later, I thought about the word ‘benign,’ and the fact that I’d never heard it.

1.     Jeff went to the desk, he said, “To ask a question.” I assumed it was about the wait.

2.     He insisted on going without me. “You stay here.”

4.     Body language: as far across the room as he could get from us, arms crossed, looking at his feet, lips pursed, seemingly annoyed. 

5.     The doctor, curtly reporting, “The results were clear.”

6.      He never told us in what way, or which manner, they were ‘clear.’

6.     Those few words used did not include: cancerous, non-cancerous nor benign.

7.     The abrupt end to our meeting. One sentence, and we were dismissed.

8.     I hear the attending’s voice in my head in a different tone, now. A warningly sarcastic parting shot. “Good luck to you, Sir.”

Two years after Jeff passed, on a bunk bed in Slidell, Louisiana, I put two and two together and came up woefully short. I no longer believe we dodged a bullet.

I wonder if Jeff told the clerk that he didn’t want the doctor to say it in front of me if he did have cancer. I wonder if he maybe said, “I don’t want my wife to know the results.” I wonder if he already knew the results before we even got there. I wonder about the doctor visits he went to with his father. I wonder if he confided in anyone. I wonder if it didn’t matter anyway; if he was already too ill for treatment, or if it was just too late.

If it wasn’t for 8 years of tobacco half-truths, little lies and bigger lies, I wouldn’t wonder.

 

Quote for the Week:   (ps. yes, that’s a real onion. made a pot roast.)2019 02 26 You don't know what you dont know jakorte

 

 

Expiration Dating

Dodging the bullet didn’t seem to have much of a lasting emotional effect on Jeff. He did slow it down, but he never quit.

I’d still find an occasional bottle stuffed under the computer desk. I’d find an empty chew container on a shelf. “Oh,” Jeff’d p’shaw. “Those are old.”

One time, he even blamed it on his father. “Oh, Dad must have left that behind,” he told me.

“Does your step-mom know your Dad chews?” I snipped. “Maybe I should call her and tell her so you can both detox together!” “No, no, don’t do that,” he pleaded. “It’s mine. Dad bought it for me…. but I haven’t had any for a real long time.”

“Did you tell your dad about the biopsies?” I asked. “Yeah, he knows,” Jeff mumbled.

“Then, why the hell would he buy it for you?” Jeff answered that question slowly. “Because… I asked him to…. I just wanted a little bit…”

He held out his hand to take it from me. I didn’t give it to him.

“I’ll get rid of it for you.” I told him. “Aw, don’t throw it away,” Jeff whined. “It’s almost new. I promise… it’ll be my last one. I won’t buy anymore.”

“It’s your last one,” I agreed. I walked out to the back porch and dumped the shredded contents behind the house.

“Aw, dang it.” I heard behind me. Jeff had followed me out.

He stopped me before I walked back in. “Let’s just sit out here for a bit,” he requested. “It’s a  nice night. We haven’t done this in a while.” So, we sat, talking about non-important things: tightly holding hands until the sun went down – a settling, comfortable reminiscence of ourselves and who we were, together.

After a few more and more frequent “those are old” excuses, I embarrassingly became very belatedly suspicious.

The next tin I found, I kept to myself, having decided I would take it with me to Jeff’s regular Speedway station. I wanted to know if they were truly all old misplaced remnants or if  he was truly lying to me. How was I planning to determine that? By expiration date.

The very next day, I dropped off my last van pool passenger and drove directly to the source. I stood in line feeling angry and sneaky, betrayed and betraying: wholly conflicted.

I didn’t want to catch Jeff lying, but I didn’t want him to make a fool of me, any longer, either. I also didn’t want to cause a scene in front of other customers. So, I took deep breaths, trying to make sure my voice would be calm.

When it was my turn, I pulled the recently found Skoal container from my purse and quietly asked, “Do you carry this brand?”

The clerk quickly turned away from the register and grabbed a matching green one from the dispenser behind the counter. “Anything else?” he asked.

“Oh, no. I don’t want to buy it…” I hurriedly explained. “I just want to know the expiration date.”

The clerk stared at me. “Seriously,” I prompted. “It’s important. I just need to know the expiration date.”

He picked it up, turned the little package over and around a few times. When he finally located it, he pointed to the dot matrix printed notation.

I nodded my thanks and left without a word. I had my answer.

Quote for the Week: 2019 02 17 hold hands meet in the now jakorte