Another week

A few years back, a friend introduced me to a book, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I remember really liking it…though I don’t recall at the moment if I actually READ it, or listened to an audiobook of it. I’d started watching a movie version of it at one point and didn’t get into it the same way.

Well, now there’s a new movie–A Man Called Otto. And it hit me harder than I ever expected. Or harder than I would have expected, until recently, as so many things are hitting harder.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a movie just really hit the way this one did. Suffice it to say that I readily recommend seeing it.

The other day, another friend posted a video link to a song How Do I Say Goodbye? by Dean Lewis. It’s got a couple lines that REALLY struck me…all the more when put with a photo of Dad and me from early in my Freshman year at BG.

“How do I say goodbye to someone who’s been with me for my whole damn life? You gave me my name and the color of your eyes. I see your face when I look at mine…”

At the grief group I’ve been attending…an interesting question came up last Monday. On the matter of WHEN to go through and get rid of someone’s “things.” WHY do we have to?!?

And it’s like “society” just tells us–wants us–to do that. Like it’s just simply something you DO, because that’s what everyone ELSE does. And maybe for some, it’s not a matter of choice–someone passes suddenly, and their apartment has to be cleared out by the end of the month or something. But other times…there’s not necessarily any real REASON to, except to do it for the sake of doing it.

No, the person’s not coming back; but why should one be or feel OBLIGATED to clear out their stuff if your situation doesn’t NECESSITATE it? Someone else shared that when they were cleaning out their parents’ old house–with siblings–it turned out that their Mom had kept everything of their Dad’s.

And I’m not talking about obvious stuff like literal TRASH, foodstuff, unsanitary stuff. But if your loved one had a bookcase–do you HAVE TO clear it/get rid of it? Or if you’ve already been living there and don’t NEED the “closet space,” do you NEED to clear it out? If you’re not gonna lose the house, don’t need to take on a roommate or tenant, where’s the HARM in leaving a room mostly as it was?

Everyone grieves differently. Everyone processes differently. There’s no time-table or one-size-fits-all for stuff. Etc.

But then, there are other factors; case-by-case and all that. Are you ever gonna wear their wardrobe of clothes? Are they still in good condition, where you could donate them for someone else to benefit from them? You may not be REQUIRED to clear stuff out, but maybe it could be a way, one last way for that person’s efforts to help someone else.

I went to church this morning. First time attending this one. I’ve driven past it countless times over the past 7+ years. Back in 2016 I spent a fair amount of time in their parking lot–there was a “Poke-Stop” in Pokemon Go. They even mounted a birdhouse-sized pokeball to “mark the spot.” And then last year, turned out that they host a GriefShare group. The one I’ve been attending. I’d considered checking out their Sunday service for awhile, but I have a laundry list of “issues” with churches in general, that I’m not getting into right here/now.

But having had plenty of time to contemplate it, having been in the building a number of times for GriefShare; for the Surviving the Holidays thing; and just having gotten a gradual sense of the place, it made it much easier for ME; not like I was walking into some strange new building and being overwhelmed and clueless on the layout and where to go and such.

Still a bit of a “gauntlet” on the way in of greeters…but I’d timed it so there wasn’t much time, so I did not feel bad in “keeping on going” and not trying to stop for conversation or such.

And then despite finding myself a seat in the back row and figuring to be there and then quietly slip out after; the GriefShare facilitator spotted me, welcomed me, invited me to sit with her and her husband, introduced me to a couple other people, pointed out a couple others, and generally…made me feel like I mattered? That I was not some interloper or intruder.

There also was no awkward “take a moment and greet those (strangers you’ve never seen before and will never see again) sitting around you this morning (and make smalltalk)” (I’m an introvert and generally do not appreciate such situations being foisted upon me).

ALSO no awkward “passing the plate” thing. They seem to have “dropboxes” around for offerings, if you so choose–but as far as I heard, not even an announcement or request TO use them.

Not sure what all the coming week holds. But I suppose as always, a day at a time. Though it’s still Sunday, I think part of me’s already “ready for the (next) weekend.”

C’est la vie and all that.

I know he didn’t leave me on purpose…

Over the past few weeks, Mom and I have been watching the Rocky series.

It’s been MY first time through the films; despite being aware OF them over the years. They’re absolutely a part of (my) popular culture experience, going back at least to the 1990 TMNT film. There’s a scene in THAT with Michelangelo doing an impersonation of Rocky; so at least back that far, I’ve been “aware of” “Adrian” and such…though it was not until watching the first film that I realized Adrian was a love interest and not a manager or buddy.

And of course, along the way, over the years, I loosely knew about Drago and THAT fight–given Dolph Lundgren being in the film (who I know from the likes of Punisher and Expendables and Masters of the Universe).

I was surprised at Burgess Meredith’s presence as Mickey–the manager/trainer. I know Meredith as The Penguin in (the) “1966 Batman series” (aka “the Adam West Batman series” or “The William Dozier Batman series” etc). I also was vaguely aware of him being in Grumpy Old Men. But after Rocky and Rocky II, I kinda saw things coming, a bit. And sure enough, in Rocky III, we saw the character’s passing.

And to say that scene rocked me would certainly be accurate. Against Mickey’s guidance, Rocky takes on a new challenger for his championship…and it doesn’t go well. Without novelizing the scene–you know it, you don’t, or you can look it up yourself–after the match (which he lost), Rocky finds that Mickey’s in bad shape, and has refused transportation to a hospital. Seemingly barely aware of his surroundings, Mickey takes comfort in knowing the match is over, and “assuming” they did things right.

And I saw it coming, and even now as I type about it, I’m doing so through tears.

“No, no, listen. We ain’t done everything right. Listen, we got more to do. Mick, whatever you wanna do, we’ll do it, okay? “

“I love you, kid. I love you.”


“It hurts me.”




And seeing Stallone (as Rocky) react to his mentor, father figure, manager’s passing, as he realizes he’s gone…yeah.

I’m not sure if any scene in a film has hit me like that since that scene in The Lion King last year (“you said you’d always be here for me! But you’re not…and it’s because of me…”)

So, pressing onward. Rocky IV. V. Rocky Balboa.

Then this past weekend, we come to Creed. Getting up to what initially put me onto the film series (Creed III coming this spring).

And without analyzing the film or getting into stuff I really liked about it, and how it worked in ways that many other films don’t for me…

There was a line that hit me, amidst the other themese of a son missing (or not even knowing) his father, of that shadow, that desire to live up to who he was etc…

“I know he didn’t leave me on purpose.”

I know he wasn’t ready to go. I know he didn’t WANT to, in those wee hours December 29th into December 30th, 2021. I know he didn’t mean to leave me. It wasn’t on purpose, it wasn’t in any of our plans.

But as with any….it doesn’t change the fact that on this Earth, he has, and I’m still here, and I contdinue to have to live without one of the absolute most important peopple of my entire lifes being here with me.

The first year was its own thing. Everything, every single milestone or anniversary or holiday or birthday or WHAT. EV. ER. was new, a new first, another first, the next first. Firsts everywhere, everywhen.

And then heading into the latter part of the year–with Dad’s birthday (and my over-sentimentalizing that first Flesh and Blood (card game) “draft” (which I AM eventually, someday going to detail in an actual blog post)); that Zanesville visit to see my aunts and cousins and such, FOR Dad’s birthday; into Thanksgiving and Christmas and such…

For me, so much was about that then-looming first anniversary. Seeing it coming. Anticipating its coming. Anticipating its hit, its effect etc. And then that night and though I observed it, it was relatively “anticlimactic” or such…

But now…we’re into the second year.

And it’s different. Braced for all those firsts, numbed through so many firsts, and in some ways, it’s like now as the second year builds, it’s a whole other thing.

From a facebook post

I crashed “early” last night.

And yet…

After I woke to (and did) use the restroom, I noticed the time.


I was awake and conscious and remembering…as time moved to and through the “One Year Mark.”

Back around 2005/2006, DC Comics did a “one year later” “time jump” in many of their comics. Given “comic time” and how years’ worth of comics might only cover a few WEEKS in-story, it was a hard reference point to truly picture.

At least for me.

Back in 1995, I “discovered” Dragonlance. And one thing that REALLY stood out to me at the time (and has remained with me in the decades SINCE) in that first novel was these characters reuniting after 5 years apart.

I wasn’t yet 15 years old myself and so 5 years was a but over 1/3 of my entire lifetime, and almost more than my particularly conscious memory and self awareness.

I had virtually no frame of reference of “5 years” as a “gap” of time between stuff or people.

As I’ve gotten older, I (semi-? fairly-?) often find myself thinking back to that notion, as I see conscious, aware 5-year timespans of note in my life.

Noticing the 5 years mark since I’d been laid off from my job in Akron. (now almost 6 1/2, and that gets into a whole other train of thoughts).5 years since a coworker there passed. 5 years since starting at Midwest.

Even before that, 5 years (then 10, soon 15) since The Dive/Cru.

5 years after the Kent apartment, 5 years after Streetsboro, 5 years after Cuyahoga Falls.

But again, here, today…1 year.

One Year…later…

And sometimes seems so fresh still.

I’ve no idea what the coming years, another year, or three or five or ten (?!) may hold.

I guess we’ll see.

One year or month or week or day or hour or moment at a time?

And Here We Are

I still can regularly hear the music and words and see the blue/misty swirling as the Highlander credits go through my memory.

♫ “And here we are…we’re the princes of the universe. Here we belong: fighting for survival. We’ve come to be the rulers of you all…” ♪

It’s those first four words that hit me today. Tonight.

“And here we are.”

It’s been A YEAR.

Tonight–December 29th into the wee hours…just before 2am of the 30th. My “mini-breakdown” as stuff hit me just how serious it could actually be, just after 7, in the kitchen. 3-ish hours before Mom got “that” call and such.

Even this year later, I still see that room. I still see him in that bed. I still see those couple hours, those moments. I still see what I saw as nurses/doctors/whoever swarmed that room right after I’d become aware that SOMETHING CHANGED…that there was a different sound or a lack of sound, as I held Dad’s hand and knelt by that bed praying we weren’t going to lose him.

Maybe it’s not the same SHOCK anymore…maybe it’s not some actual, raw HORROR that I feel anymore…as much as it is just that ongoing sense of loss; of missing him.

Of all the stuff I’ve (tried to) throw myself into these last months; all the experiences and activities that I haven’t gotte to share with him, tell him about, etc.

All the what-if’s and feelings of what-should-have-beens and what-could-have-beens and all that.

As tough as things were–for him, certainly, as well as for Mom and me in the caretaking–I always, ALWAYS couched ANY ventage or admission of frustration in the honest, heartfelt truth that howEVER stuff was, I would NEVER “trade” Dad for stuff to be easier.

I don’t even fully know what I’d hoped to write tonight…but this isn’t it.

Feels so…contrived? I don’t know.

It’s a year.

Selfishly… IIIIIIIIII have “made it” just over 52 weeks, this year, despite it.

The masque is often up, though I let it slide for certain people at certain times. I’ve done a cycle with Griefshare (and planning on at least one more, if only for keeping some of that “structure” to my life AND being able to interact with others in-person who DO and CAN know what it is that I know…though NONE of us would ever have WANTED to know.

I “should” have so much more to put to words right this moment; far more eloquency to share.

But I sit here, and it’s down to just these several hours until crossing the one-year mark. And while that’s not gonna change anything, really…there’s just something psychological to it.

Nothing will be “less than a year ago” anymore. It’ll be “a year ago” or “just over a year ago” and having been within the final 47 hours of 2021, it’ll soon be an entire year in between the year Dad was here…and the current year. A gulf that–as real as it’s about to be–still seems unreal to me, to whoever I was for just over 41 years. Until the virtually-unimaginable happened.

My words are sorely lacking here.

And I just want to turn my mind off and veg out and not think.

Maybe I’ll manage 1 of those 3.

Another month. And a year approaches.

…and ANOTHER month’s passed right on by. The other day was the 2nd Monday AFTER the Griefshare group/cycle ended.

I’ve had another birthday. First one without Dad. Where in 2021 I took a day off work and went to Columbus, hit IKEA and a couple Half-Price Books, and Big Fun Columbus…this year I did my best to go head-in-the-sand and stay “off the radar.” THOUGH I did wind up going to Geek’s Gambit for Flesh and Blood, and with others trying a new “One Piece” card game (based on the “One Piece” manga series) I joined in; and also wound up staying after with several others “just hanging out” at the shop. Something I don’t think I’ve really done–in that way–anywhere in YEARS.

Went to a comic show and found it to be mostly a waste, though I found a chunk of Alpha Flight issues.

Got to meet up with Ben at another gameshop for Flesh and Blood back on the 11th; AND I actually legitimately WON a couple games. Won a drawing for a “generic” “Dynesty” set playmat, as well as a set of “Shi**y Xmas Present” promotional cards.

LAST weekend met up with friends at Ben’s and we got some Heroquest and Sentinels of the Multiverse in.

I’ve also had that “clicking” moment for RA Salvatore’s DRIZZT DO’URDEN books–where I’ve been aware of them for 25+ years but never had any particular intrest (MY “D&D World”/setting of choice has always been DRAGONLANCE). But something finally “clicked” for me and got me interested…and said interest has been exacerbated by coming across a teaser/trailer thing on YouTube featuring a poem/lullaby written by RA Salvatore…and narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.

But as I sit here typing–the workday, workweek, workYEAR fading into history–it occurs to me how much of that “One Year Since…” I’m in for over the next few days.

Some shelves in the basement have now been up for a year. Heck, aside from adding a couple things to a couple of them, they remain virtually untouched in this time. And a couple of the shelves and their contents I don’t think I HAVE touched in a year; since working with them shortly after getting off work on the final workday of 2021.


The days immediately after. The 28th. And then the 29th-into-30th. That night that firmly placed a “before” and “after” break into my life in a way nothing else had ever done.

And the closer it all gets…I feel like the more frequently I’m seeing stuff–articles, anecdotes, whatever–suggesting that this first year, this first Christmas “after” may not even BE the hardest one.

I guess time is gonna tell.

Three months later…

I’ve left this blog idle for just about 3 months. Couple of the months, this laptop’s been downstairs near my workstation, so once I’m off work, I’m upstairs, and then I don’t have this handy. If only “thoughts” could be “recorded” and converted to typed words and posted. (But then, would also be great to have a pensieve–that device from the Harry Potter books–where one can remove and “store” memories while getting them out of one’s own head for awhile)

We had that new health scare with Chloe at the beginning of August; within a couple DAYS of an exact YEAR from the 2021 instance. We then had another one last week over the Veterans’ Day weekend. I’m personally not even sure what to think THERE…but it SOUNDS like what had been feared to be a bladder tumor MIGHT be hyperthyroidism. Either way, Chloe’s got a new “regular med” as part of her routine for a bit.

She’d also gotten shaved, and she’s back to being a furry cat…slightly longer hair than Sarah’s “shorthair” but not her full length “longhair”…though she’s remained EXTRA-snuggly, which I’ve cherished.

Tomorrow will be Week Eleven (of 13) for a GriefShare group I’ve been attending. Particularly thanks to encouragement from Sara, Cass, and Lizz; found this group and started going. Not quite sure how to describe it for myself, or its impact…but among other things, for these last several months, it’s been an added fixture in my week, something concrete and planned, more than “just” “going to the comic shop” each week, to get out/away from the house for a bit. And it’s meant meeting other people in similar situations/places of life where none of us would want to be “qualified” to be there, but we all know why we’re all there, and so there’s something to THAT (speaking for myself, anyway).

It had also recently occurred to me that this has been THE first “social group” thing of any real note that I’ve been a part of since The Dive back in my Kent State days.

I suppose I should note that it was ALSO “This is Us” that helped push me toward it, having a better idea of “support groups” and the like from the show.

I know at one point I’d “planned” on doing some blogging based on prompts from the “workbook,” and I may yet…but I guess I’ve taken to using GriefShare as an outlet in lieu of this blog, for a time. I’m too much of a rambler/writer/venter/whatever to permanently stop writing, hence diving back in here/now.

Back in early October, having returned to watching too much YouTube, I caught a video from “The Professor” (Tolarian Community College) where he hyped up “Flesh and Blood,” a card game from Legend Story Studios…especially amidst the 30th anniversary crap from Wizards of the Coast for Magic. It caught my attention, especially as I’d heard of the game last year or the year before, where I went for “Gate Ruler” instead. (I found that unopened GR stuff and wish I’d gone the F&B route then!)

Looked into the game and found that it definitely appealed to me–from the art, the cards, the gameplay, the publisher’s philosophy, being something designed for IN PERSON (“in flesh and blood”) play (rather than some digital-only/app-only “card game”), etc.

I dove in, and found that it was definitely something to be enjoyed/appreciated…as well as being something new for me to “throw myself into.” As a TCG, not exactly a totally new ‘hobby’ (Magic the Gathering, Spellfire, Marvel Overpower, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, dabbling in modern MTG in 2018/2019, etc) but still something NEW for ME in and of itself.

I was able to get to a “draft” event on October 30th, several days after going to an introductory/”welcome” event; to get my first real taste of actually PLAYING the game…as well as my first-ever TCG “draft” experience.

But what REALLY made that one memorable for me was that it was October 30th…which would have been Dad’s 72nd birthday. At this draft event, I wound up getting 2 of THE rarest cards in the then-current set…one that would be found approximately 1 in 96 packs; and another found approximately 1 in 960 packs. Lotta thoughts and such condensed…I know Dad would have been tickled at the story; at me going to this thing and pulling both these cards…especially combined with his having maintained that HE tried to get ME into Magic when it was first solicited back in 1993.

He ALSO would have VERY MUCH encouraged me TO go out to this event, been glad to see me involving myself in something like this, getting outta the house, trying something new, etc.

And–granted–the GriefShare group would never even be on my radar if he was still here, but all the more ME getting into a new game and choosing to venture out to get involved in such a thing with complete strangers…he would have really dug that.

And even the event being on his birthday, he’d have wanted to work around it, rather than be any part of any excuse for me NOT checking it out.

The day before that F&B (“FaB”/FAB/fab) draft, Mom and I got down to Zanesville to see family, and share a meal in honor of his birthday. For me, in some ways, that became the…I’m not even sure the word I’m looking for. We didn’t get to do a funeral thanks to C19 and such. So a sort of “celebration of life” at his birthday kinda filled some of that.

Dad’s birthday–October 30th–was also 10 months since we lost him, December 30th. Which did not go unnoticed by me in the months prior, at the time, nor now.

As always, I’m kinda trailing off here. Far more thoughts than can be put to words. But as I came downstairs to attend to something else requiring this laptop, I figured I’d just open the “create a post” page and start typing and see what I’d wind up with.

“break the ice” and such on this blog again, and see if I get back to more regular posting, at least for a bit.

“This is Us”?

I blasted through 16-17 seasons of CSI/CSI: Vegas from late March/early April to early August.

Though I’d watched large parts of several seasons of CSI Miami and CSI New York and caught the occasional episode of “original” CSI, I had never watched the show in full.

I hit a tipping point with YouTube, getting so frustrated and tired of ads upon ads upon ads that I’d wanted to watch something NOT on YouTube, just to avoid the ads. To watch CONTENT without it being some sorta…I don’t even know the word I want. “Extortion” is surely too harsh…but when it seems like the ads are there to “drive” users to the PAID version of YT…no, thank you!

Anyway, the entire run of CSI in less than 5 months. A few years back I did 21 seasons of Law & Order: SVU in about 11 months.

But after CSI…after all that death and worst days of peoples’ lives (doesn’t matter they were fiction, they had good actors!) I needed a change of pace. I wasn’t gonna repeat stuff with diving into CSI Miami or CSI New York. So, what to dive into next?

I think I sampled a couple shows between Hulu and Netflix…decided the newest season of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous is NOT for me; and though I enjoyed the first season enough, not in the mood for the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon on Netflix.

Then I remembered that show I watched an episode of with Sara back in April. “This is Us.” I’d heard nothing but good about the show; she seemed to really enjoy it, and that single episode I saw didn’t turn me OFF to the show, so might as well check it out, right? I’d also heard it was a “moving” show, deep, and had brought tears.

But what harm in “checking it out” from the first episode, at least? Maybe it’d suck. Maybe it wouldn’t grab me. Maybe…

And hey, it’s got Justin Hartley in it (Green Arrow on Smallville, Aquaman in the unaired pilot, etc). AND…it’s only 6 seasons, so not like it’s investing in a decade-plus series.

Well, it’s grabbed me. Big-time. I’m already about halfway through the third season, and it’s been maybe 3 weeks?

I think part of the appeal–for me–is identifying with several of the main characters. The characters were born in 1980. So was I. THOUGH with watching the show in 2022 here, I’m actually a few years OLDER than the characters as I watch…but had I watched as the show was “current,” same age.

And the way it shows all these characters’ lives and how these lives impact each other…the word I keep using to describe it is “authentic.” I can believe these characters are real. And the narrative structure of the show is a mix of linear and non-linear…following the lives of several people, but then also showing moments that shaped them as relevant to current events.

The show touches on some tough topics, rough topics…some that hit so very close to MY heart. As I type this, I’m debating how specific to get…cuz I don’t really want to SPOIL the show for anyone, but that leaves me talking in rather vague terms.

Seeing William’s story with Randall especially hit deep. While LOADS that I cannot BEGIN to identify with, parts are universal, at least to certain situations; one of which I’ve now been through.

And Despite “clues” dropping throughout the first season and several failed “assumptions” on my part, in the SECOND season we learn about another character, and what happens there and how it affects his family honestly hit me like a punch to the gut.

In the third season, where I am with it NOW…we’re learning about a character’s time in Vietnam, as his son looks for answers.

Thus we come to the thrust of this particular post, what spurred me to write tonight.

I know that MY Dad served in Vietnam. I know that he did not get a welcome back, recognition, a parade, etc…it wasn’t til the early 2000s at a Magic Moondog Coronation Ball that he ever got “recognized” by “strangers” in a crowd, for his service.

I know that he was on an “ammo ship” during the war; that Agent Orange does NOT merely stop at a body of water; I know that he met Eric when they joined the Navy; I know he connected with friends over being veterans…AND I know that even up to college and beyond, it was more of a clinical “fact” that Dad had served in Vietnam.

I knew he retired from the Navy in 1991. and I know that over the last 15 years his being a Veteran became a more pronounced thing to ME.

See, he was always DAD. And while I’d given him a copy of Paul Fussel’s Norton Anthology of Modern War, figuring that Dad could read that and then decide for HIMSELF what (if anything) to share with me…we never got around to that.

I’ve realized I know next to nothing about his ACTUAL experiences in Vietnam. And as I watch This is Us, I find myself more curious, and thinking about it a lot more.

As I’ve said before, that night he was in the hospital, December 28 into 29, it had hit me that I didn’t have any of his stories recorded. I have these snippets of memories of him talking about stuff…anecdotes…but nothing at length, nothing specific that I, myself, could properly share or tell others. That I was gonna have to make more time with him, TO talk about stuff…to LISTEN and let HIM talk. To me.

We never got that.

And so I can only really “imagine” anything he did…or did not…go through.

I know there was some stuff he’d apparently never talked to anyone about that came up while he was in physical rehab back in 2017; he told me something about blaming himself for someone who died (after Vietnam), and whatnot…but it never really sank in to me how much he may have been avoiding talking about. At least to me.

AND…me being me…I never pried.

It may not even be my “place” to seek or “pry” into that time. I know MY experience with him in the just over 41 years I had with him. And I know he was often very open with me ABOUT certain stuff. But…there’s also stuff I didn’t even find out about until right before he went into the hospital that last time, that I never knew about extended family. Stuff that doesn’t really affect me or change anything about the family I’ve known and my experiences…just some stuff that I never knew.

So where am I going with this?

I feel like a broken record with vagaries and such, where when I first thought to write this post I figured there’d be more to say…but realized I didn’t want to spoil the show for anyone who might read this, that might eventually watch it.

More later, I suppose.

Over seven months…stream of conscious rambling

Five weeks since my last post. Last week was both “30 weeks” and “7 months.”

Tonight’s 31 weeks.

Several days into August here…meaning it’s been 1 year since that scare with Chloe. 1 year since my new, as yet-unused eyeglasses script. Nearly a year since the Claremont signing at CNJ. A year since Drew’s and my first visit to Mike at his new house.

So much that rings differently a year later. As so many other things have, and will, in a rolling basis.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last 9 weeks or so working on the comics accumulation. And finishing up my run through the original CSI series.

Started watching CSI from the very beginning back in late March or so, and finished the most recent season of CSI: Vegas last night. I’m not sure that I really WANT to dive into CSI Miami or CSI New York. I’d watched more of both of those than the original when they were airing as new episodes. But while I made it through 20 seasons of Law & Order: SVU 2018 into early 2019, this CSI run has proven a bit darker, touched by me being at a whole different place in life.

And frankly, I’m coming to the conclusion that I’ve had enough of the darkness and death and seeing people (albeit fictional) on the worst days of their lives. At least for awhile. That was part of why I stopped watching The Walking Dead. The comics were black and white, drawings on a page; easy enough to read and take in the story but they stayed art on pages to be read. The tv show put actual people and “live-action” to it all, and that got to be a bit much.

Back in June, I’d brought my X-Men boxes back upstairs. 15 shortboxes, plus boxes and piles of stuff accumulated over the past couple years SINCE May of 2020 when I organized those boxes. And I got stuff shifted around, re-consolidated….and THIS TIME actually “inventoried” the stuff. As of this typing I’m at just over 4100 comics officially in the X-Collection.

I’ve spent much of the last few weeks hauling up the longboxes, and this week the shortboxes, such that THE bulk of my COMICS are now in the cave. I’ve got some stacks on shelves and such left down there that I need to consolidate and bring up; but that part of the process should more or less be done by this weekend.

The goal being NOT to “take over” this cave as much as to make use of the larger space to spread out and have the comic boxes spread out and open to facilitate the first all-accumulation sorting I’ve attempted in 24 years. The last time I did a “full accumulation” organization was Fall of my senior year in high school–Fall 1998–and I maybe had 5 or 6 longboxes and a couple shortboxes at the time. Total.

I could ramble more on details–stuff I’m most looking forward to finding and bringing back together and having quick/easy access to…but THAT may well be better suited over at my comics blog.

31 weeks, and broken record that I am…I’m getting by. That early “shock and horror” seems to have faded…but it’s definitely left a significant hole in me, my heart, my life, not having Dad here in-person.

He’d have been SHOCKED (and impressed) at alllll these boxes and just how many comics I actually HAVE; I know he knew I had a lot, but even I myself am somewhat surprised at the visual volume seeing so much in one space, not divided between a house and an apartment, or divided in different parts of the basement and upstairs, etc.

I picture him grudgingly having agreed to let me do this as it is…shortly before Christmas, I’d had the idea of bringing all the comics up to use the space here in the cave, get comics sorted properly, and then back down to the basement. Dad almost certainly wold have readily agreed to the PLAN…though I’m sure he’d have expressed some doubt at the volume; and reminded me several times to keep stuff moving and that they weren’t going to STAY up here, etc.

(But on that, how many other times in my life has he sacrificed for me, or otherwise given me space, support, encouragement, etc. and so on?)

As I sit here typing, I’m in the cave…both cats were over here, and more space for Daisey, so I brought the laptop to type here before I figure out something for dinner.

Chloe’s curled up on the couch, doing her upside-down-head thing, snoring. Sarah’s curled up in Daisey’s “spot”. And Daisey’s here in the chair with me, warming my lap and chilling/snuggling.

I’ve allowed little silence over the past months. I pretty much always have some audiobook going overnight. Usually just background noise overnight, though sometimes whatever audiobook works its way into dreams, or I wake in the wee hours and have to switch to music to not stay awake for the rest of the book.

This comics project is also giving me something concrete to DO…something that NEEDS doing…that is far beyond just some weekend project. I tell myself to do SOMEthing “making progress” every day. Whether it’s carry a box upstairs; inventory some sorted comics; do SOMEthing furthering the process TOWARD an organized and inventoried collection.

Such a focal thing that I keep going back to that AS I type along here, stream of conscious-like. Blah.

Saw the new Top Gun a couple/several weeks ago. Wasn’t sure what to make of it. It could NOT live up to the “hype” I’d heard…BUT I still definitely ENJOYED it.

Especially for seeing it in the theater, witht he big screen and theatrical sound system. I realized I hadn’t paid NEARLY enough attention when I “watched” the original back in…April or May or June. So I may try to rewatch that and see how I take it 2nd time through.

The new one definitely hit differently for this point in life.

For one thing, I’m pretty sure that at the least, Dad and I would have watched it…albeit as a rental here at the house. Knowing what I do now, how stuff has gone, if I could go back in time, I’d surely push to get him to the theater to see it, with all the complications that’d include. But we would have watched it. Probably would have gotten Mom to watch it, too; made a family night of it.

I often felt like I could be a bit “off” in assessing what he’d think of certain movies…though that may have been MY enjoyment of “superhero” movies that to me have plenty of action, but never really grabbed him at all the same way. But I do think he’d have enjoyed Maverick quite a bit, and I suspect it would have spurred some definite conversation for us.

I was never in the military, myself. But through Dad, and then over the years through several friends who’ve been in, I’ve gained a new appreciation for those who have served; beyond what I’d already known/seen/”assumed.”

And watching the film, I saw a lot of the multi-generational aspect of things; characters interacting where it was relatively easy to picture Dad there, and wonder about HIM and HIS friends. To appreciate the direction someone might come from looking back on a career and newer/younger up-and-comers; interacting with friends’ adult children, or being one of those adult children interacting with a parent’s friend.

Plenty of similar thoughts and half-thoughts and such.

Dad probably would have also been shocked whenever that was, to realize I had NEVER SEEN TOP GUN before 2022. I always knew OF it; I may have seen parts of it; I was aware of “Take My Breath Away” and maybe other music from the film; but had never actually specifically watched it.

New DRAGONLANCE book came out yesterday, officially. “Classic” Dragonlance; “Dragonlance Destinies” vol. 1; “Dragons of Deceit.” First new Dragonlance novel in over a decade. By original series authors Weis & Hickman. First new Dragonlance book I’ve gotten since Dad. First new physical book I’ve actually started reading since Dad.

While I was with Mom at that used books store in Pennsylvania back in August or so 1995…whether it was the one Grandpa went to or not, I can’t remember for sure (I may be thinking of two separate stores), that was when I came across some Greyhawk book by Rose Estes. I believe it was the 3rd book in a series, and I couldn’t find books 1 or 2, so put it back. I may have looked for a Shadowrun book, but couldn’t find one that was an obvious starting point. But I DID find the first two books in another fantasy series–Dragonlance. “Dragonlance Chronicles” vols. 1 & 2; Dragons of Autumn Twilight, and Dragons of Winter Night.

My friend Jim gave me Dragons of Spring Dawning a few months later; and I remember checking Waldenbooks and B. Dalton at the Mentor Mall for other Dragonlance stuff frequently.

I remember being at that Waldenbooks with Dad when I bought the collected Legends Trilogy, using Christmas money from Grandma K. And some time later, I recall being with Dad at Waldenbooks buying the first books of the new “Fifth Age” stuff; as well as a couple of the box sets of the new RPG at the time.

Whether I ever shared in detail with them or not (or if it’s part of a lengthy letter I remember writing to them in college that I never sent), I remember thinking of Dad (and Mom) with a quote from one of the Dragonlance books, that has stuck with me. “We raise our children to leave us.”

Not that parents necessarily kick their children out, but they raise them to be able to leave.

In my case, I stuck around fairly close. I went 2 1/2 hours away for BG; about an hour for Kent; and it wasn’t until 2016 that I officially moved back in with them, ostensibly to help with Dad and get ready to find a place of my own…which turned into 5+ years and being able to be so much more “help” for/with Dad than any of us imagined.

I COULD live on my own somewhere; or I can be around to help my parents. To help Mom. No great need for me to “live alone” just for the sake of “living alone.”

But anything “good” anyone sees in me…I’d charge that that comes from Mom and Dad. So much I got from Dad that I never realized. Surely plenty of same from Mom that even now I don’t realize.

31 weeks. Over 7 months. Pushing an hour or so of sitting, thinking, typing, rambling, whatever all this post has been. No tears. My heart aches in that way that I’m sure it always will for the rest of my days. I miss Dad. I miss what WAS. I miss sitting out here in the cave and talking to him, watching tv and/or movies with him. Being around this house and simply knowing he’s around; that we’re under the same roof.

So I keep occupied. Try not to “think” too much (not that I’m always successful). Push this comic project along, cuz it’s something “tangible” and long-term that’s already taken a couple months. And put one foot in front of the other, take one day at a time, and….something.

Six Months

As I sit here typing…it’s been six months since my initial falling-apart in the kitchen. Just a little before 8pm.

I’d been to the comic shop earlier in the day; begun finally sorting comics to clean the front room as Dad had been wanting; etc. I think I was in the middle of working through the Falcon and the Winter Soldier series, having just days earlier sprung for D+ as it was cheaper than purchasing a movie I wanted to watch.

And while I sat there watching–pondering what Dad would think of the show–I remember realizing a number of things. For one, there it was, end of 2021, and we’d not finished Iron Man 2…where I’d INTENDED to “subject” Dad AND Mom to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’d both seen several of the movies over the years…but after his health scare in August 2018, I’d intended to take him through the MCU. To get to share that whole epic with him. He’d have watched them if I pushed–he’d have wanted to make me happy, would’ve been thankful for the time together. But knowing he wasn’t terribly engaged or “enthusiastic” about them, I had NOT pushed, and weeks turned into months turned into years. So when we got him home from the hospital–whether it was a few days or (as we feared at the time) a few weeks/months again–I was gonna talk to him about it and re-gauge his interest IN the thing. (Of course, by that point, 2 1/2 years POST-Endgame).

I remember thinking about some conversations we’d had; stuff he’d shared with me. Snippets from HIS past, from before he’d even met Mom. I needed to talk to him and get more stories like that. (and remembering the look on his face and seeing HIM remember as he told me about stuff).

I remember thinking back to 2011 and being with Katie and Tim, talking to Katie’s grandfather, them recording some of his stories and such to share later.

And that I oughtta do that with Dad. Talk to him ABOUT recording some of the stuff. Get him to re-tell that story from college about putting a sign up cancelling class, and waiting around to talk to the professor. Some of thosse stories from his time on the ship. Him and Eric…him and Bruce. Him and Chuck. Compare notes on stuff from the Sandbagger Golf League days–stuff I’d picked up on as a kid, but maybe was either oblivious to or only had one side of things.

But I never got that chance, after the realization and intent. So many stories about his life, and his experiences. Stuff I never knew…and now, never will. Stories that I vaguely recall in the loosest sense that I won’t get to “firm up” or clarify details on.

I remember some years back when Eric came out to visit…and we were all out at some restaurant…I think it was that Mexican place over on 306 with the buffet, back in 2015 or 2016. Watching them talk and catch up and reminisce…and something that came up that had them both laughing, and Dad had tears in his eyes from laughing so hard and long at whatever that memory was that didn’t stand out to ME at the time.

I had my “breakdown” in the kitchen. Terrified of what could come; worried almost sick. Despite stuff we’d faced before, and however it now SOUNDS…I remembered that moment in an old Superman comic when Jonathan Kent was hospitalized after a heart attack…and Martha confiding in Lois (I believe) that she’d never been so scared she was gonna lose him (Jonathan).

My breakdown was as it hit me that we could actually lose him. That this was somehow different from the other times since 2017. Different from 2017. Partly hitting me because of Mom having her own bad feeling about things.

I tried to tell myself I was freaking out needlessly. That confiding in friends about my worries was gonna seem so foolish in retrospect. (Not the confiding but the worries; that I was totally overreacting).

So I got back to Falcon & Winter Soldier. Forced myself “through the motions.”

I texted Dad at 8:56pm Wednesday, December 29th. “Keep feeling better. Praying for you, thinking of you. Love you.” And sent two photos of Daisey, a photo of Sarah, and a photo of Chloe. Trying to keep optimistic and encouraging and photos to cheer him/brighten stuff. I’m not sure if I’d realized he hadn’t seen the text/photo from the night before. I was going to at LEAST text and share photos every day until I could get in to see him (the hospital’s one-visitor-once-per-day crap meant only Mom was able to see him that afternoon).

Less than two hours later I heard Mom hustling from the cave; my habitual question “everything ok?” getting a NON-standard answer/response. “They’re doing CPR on him,” as she hustled on by to get clothes for going out. I was moments from “crashing” for the night myself, but that changed immediately as I quickly changed into non-bedclothes and told Mom I was driving and was heading out to start the car.

That tense drive. 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Less than a half-hour. Familiar territory…I’ve driven much of that route countless times before in the previous half-decade; knew the area well from the previous three decades.

Rule or no rule, I was going in WITH Mom; NEITHER of us was being left to wait in the vehicle or a lobby or such. And, despite the rule and my readiness to FIGHT if needbe, no one stopped us.

Those final couple hours.

Those final moments.

That room. That monitor. The sudden change in tone/sound. Realizing SOMEthing was happening or had happened. Medical folks rushing in; Mom and me being pulled out of the room. Clinging to each other as medical folks crowded the space, “Code Blue” from the overhead speakers paging personnel to where they were needed. Dad’s room.

Seeing what I saw.

The pronouncement.

The realization.

And here it is, six months later. HALF A YEAR. Later.

I’ve not slept in a bed since getting up that morning of December 28th. Initially having “camped out” so I’d be handy and as aware as possible should anything “come up suddenly.” For the last six months because THE LAST TIME I was in that bed, I woke up to a world and life with Dad here in this house, with the expectation that things had to be getting better after the rough few days over Christmas and such.

I’ve managed to “force myself” to the comic shop every Wednesday. “Habit” or SOMEthing; it gets me outta the house, gives me SOMEthing “to do” each week that is not staying indoors here at the house. “Routine,” “motions” to go through, etc. For all that comics had BEEN through the years…Dad sure as heck would not have wanted to be “the cause” of me “dropping them” “cold turkey” or such; to just suddenly END something that had been a part of my life for 33 years…something that had given US something to tak about and bond over and shared experiences and interactions and such for so long.

I looked into “support groups,” but everything I found was video-only, or would require taking hours off work and driving at length just for anything “in person.” A group at a church 90 seconds’ drive away wanted people to wait til at least 3 months after their “loss.” Which for me meant at least the end of March. So I filed that all away and dropped it for the time.

Come end of March, other stuff going on. Mom in NY. I was getting ready for my first-since-2015 week-plus off work and roadtrip. Work. Day by day, getting by. Forgot about the support group stuff. A few weeks ago, it’s again bad timing. Gotta wait til August. Or do video. Or other stuff when I look that puts me off.

I’ve started “doing stuff” again, a bit.

Got a weekend with Mike and Drew in…February, I think it was.

Got to visit Zanesville with Mom in early April.

I went down to Alabama to see Sara in late April.

I got to go spend an afternoon with Katie and Tim and their boys at the one park beginning of June, and got to spend some time with Alana twice.

Couple weeks ago, got to spend an afternoon with friends playing tabletop games and just hanging out. Rather than just being at the house focusing on “Fathers’ Day.”

I’ve brought boxes and boxes of X-Men comics up to the cave. Tore apart part of the basement getting a shelving unit up here. Began re-sorting and “consolidating” X-stuff I’ve acquired over the past 2 years. And finally started “inventorying,” with an app I’ve actually PAID FOR for 2 years and now finally actively USING properly.

I’ve gotten some stuff cleaned up and dealt with that’s needed it; and some for naught as the mess has reasserted…but working with the X-stuff seems to be the most forward “progress” I’ve REALLY made in AGES in dealing with the comics, and so I chip away at THAT project while preparing to get the rest of the accumulation brought up and (eventually) sorted.

But not a day goes by that I don’t think of and miss Dad. That I don’t have that hurt and astonishment hit me that “he’s really GONE.” THat I canNOT simply walk across the house to see him. To talk to him.

I recall again the snippet of words of Sigfried Sassoon from his poem “Aftermath”:

Have you forgotten yet?…
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways […]

And I have NOT forgotten. I’m still here, I’m still learning to deal with this new world…and for most everyone else, life has (rightfully for them) just gone on after that pause.

And the words of Tanis Half-Elven as written by a CT Pierson:

For though
My life moves on, my infant son lies dreaming
In his cradle, my thoughts still find you, old friend.
And though you would scowl to hear me tell of it,
And stomp and scoff, I cannot hide this plain truth:
I still need you […]

While I have no son, no progeny, MY life continues to move. But my thoughts still find Dad. He would never have wanted to be ANY cause of me feeling so much hurt and pain and such; would want me to keep on goin’ and all that…I still needed him. Need him.

And I have to live with that.

Even as those words from Castin Crowns’ song re-hits:

But I know you’re in a place
Where all your wounds have been erased
And knowing yours are healed is healing mine […]

I don’t know what sorta timeframe I’m looking at. Typing all this is the first time in weeks that I think I’ve (managed to?) shed tears. It’s not easy. It’s not over. It’s not right. It’s not what I had wanted or planned or intended or looked toward, etc.

But here I am.

Six months…26 weeks.

Somehow having “gotten through” hour by hour, day by day by week by month.

thoughts tonight

Couple weeks since writing here. Feel like I’ve had plenty of thoughts that I’ve considered writing on, but by the time I (usually) get off work I’m just vegging out til bedtime, which I’m sure is impacted by grief and all that.

Random songs just kinda hit me at times and bring back certain memories or bubble thoughts to the surface. Whether it’s an old Elvis song that reminds me of Dad because of him often blaring Elvis stuff from the Cave; or “Remember When” by Alan Jackson and just that idea of remembering when we weren’t actively worrying about health stuff and whatnot, remembering when life (comparatively) felt “right.”

Saw Jurassic World last weekend. Lotta mixed feelings on that…while I appreciated some “fan service” overall it just felt “off” and the least-Jurassic of the six films. It was more the years-later-made-for-tv-movie following a line of theatrical flicks. Still glad to have seen it for myself, though! I remember sitting in the theater with Dad watching the original, back in 1993. “The” T-Rex scene scared the crap outta me that first time, I recall. But it was Dinosaurs. In the theater. And while I do think my “dinosaur phase” (and “Land Before Time”) were fairly well over by then, it was still a “thing,” and I remember the teaser poster in a theater lobby some time before it having caught my attention; and making it one of the earliest films I actively “looked forward to.”

This afternoon in snagging an “Uncanny X-Men” Annual from 2009 or so I’ve to best of my knowledge completed my run of the title from #141 through 544…including the Annuals in that time. I’m also missing only about 15 issues from having every issue of every subsequent volume of the title (2011, 2012, 2016, and 2018) which will give me a nearly 42-year-run on the title. Something I never could’ve/would’ve dreamed of back in 1993 when Dad bought me that first issue of Uncanny X-Men with the shiny cover (#300).

I’ve started hauling stuff up from the basement. Definitely feels weird after years of specifically keeping my stuff OUT of the Cave. Also weird to–here, 24 weeks later–see so much “stuff” I have down there that remains virtually untouched since before losing Dad.

Dreams continue to hit on that stuff as well; where Dad’s “present” but “off-screen” in them. Influencing, but not actually seen.

Tonight into tomorrow is 24 weeks…but it’s not til the end of June that we’ll be at that “milestone” 6 months. Which is–even so–still hard to believe that much time has passed.

And I’m definitely not looking forward to Sunday–Fathers’ Day–I’ll just leave it at that.

Had some other stuff to ramble on, but I’m just gonna shut up for now.