“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.

Memorial Day 2022

Memorial Day 2022 hits a wholllle different way than any previous year of my life.

Wikipedia tells me “Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) is a federal holiday in the United States for mourning the U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the United States armed forces.”

Well, over the years, it’s become this “holiday” for sales and cookouts and a long weekend and a “kickoff to summer” and such…at least, that’s how it’s felt.

Dad served in the US Navy for 21 years. From what I’ve always understood, he served in Vietnam; on an ammo ship. I mainly remember that he used to say that had the ship he was on been hit, he would never have known it. AND I never gave it MUCH thought.

As a kid, it was simply “a fact.” Dad had been in the Navy. I was there at his retirement party in 1991. Nevvvvvver thought about him being killed in Vietnam…cuz obviously if that’d happened, I wouldn’t even exist.

One of those things that I just took at face value, nothing deep, it just “was.”

But then in college, I took this “Literature of War” course with Dr. Brett Holden. The textbook for the course was The Norton Book of Modern War, edited by Paul Fussel. The book–and course–went through the experience of soldiers who’d served in wars; especially World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. And the traumas they went through. The book is comprised of stuff written by actual veterans, primarily telling their own stories–through poetry (Sassoon’s “Aftermath: March 1919” still gets me to this day…as does Dulce et Decorum Est) or other accounts. I believe there was an excerpt from All Quiet on the Western Front, which while a fictional story was still more than relevant.

Long story short, I ended up spending FOUR SEMESTERS with the class. That first simply taking it…and the following 3 as a “TA.” Two years…Half the time I was an undergrad involved the course directly.

I have so many memories about stuff I (still) associate with that class.

But the POINT here, now, is: it gave me insight.

I was never military myself.

Never been through any of that. None of the training, none of the discipline, none of the experience.

And Dad was never highly talkative about it, especially Vietnam…except that I always remember how HE seemed to always remember the derision and spitting and such on return. He never got a parade. He was never recognized for his service to this country.

It wasn’t until…maybe 2002? 2003? I remember him talking about going to the Magic Moondog Coronation Ball with Mom the one year, and they’d asked Vietnam vets to stand to be recognized…and that that was the first time for him BEING recognized, like that.

I also remember his strong recommendation to me to NOT go into the military. I’m sure I would’ve tried, if only for him…but he knew me, my personality, and he didn’t see me being happy that way, and so not only did not encourage me to follow in his (and Grandpa’s) footsteps, he actively guided me AWAY from it.

But in so doing, he (maybe unwittingly) taught me another lesson: to have that much more respect for our nation’s military, for the men and women who DO and HAVE served…because I myself DID NOT.

And it was much more the last few years or so, maybe back 10 or so, that it seemed like the word “veteran” took on a lot of new meaning for me. In the way I saw Dad, and thought about him, and saw him with others.

“Veteran” was by no means his “identity,” but I came to realize what a big part of him it actually WAS, and how so much affected him, and through him, ME. I learned so much about him–from him–the last few years that I was totally oblivious to as a kid; that I never saw deeper or looked deeper or anything beyond “face value.”

Maybe Memorial Day is supposed to be about those that died in combat, during wartime.

Maybe someone would see me making this about Dad, who died in a hospital room with me and Mom present, a little under 32 years after he officially retired from the US Navy, as out of place.

But the stuff he saw, was exposed to…figuratively and literally. Agent Orange. The impact that exposure came to have over the last 10-15 years; maybe I’m overly romanticizing it but sometimes I wonder if it’d really be entirely inappropriate to say that he WAS killed in Vietnam…but he was blessed with 50-some years of borrowed time.

Almost certainly the four years we got, from December 12, 2017 until Christmas time 2021, were that blessing of borrowed time.

So what am I trying to say here?

I don’t really know. Just sitting at a computer banging out words on a keyboard, trying to express some fraction of overall thoughts in some sort of hopefully-slightly-coherent way.

He was proud of his country, his service, his time. He loved Mom, and me, and my sister. He told me to the point of embarrassment how proud he was of me, to be my father.

Yet even here, 5 months later, I don’t feel like I’ve got the proper words, in the proper order, in the proper way.

I hate to say that it’s “fitting,” but I can’t help but notice that today–Memorial Day–May 30–marks 5 months since we lost him. December 30.

Technically last night into this morning.

Dad never was “thrilled” with my long beard. He often asked why I don’t trim it or such; he’d express how much he preferred how I looked with a shorter beard or no beard.

Part of me’d contemplated trimming it down back in December/early January…but I didn’t want it to be some spur of the moment thing done in the blind horror of initial grief and such.

But amidst so many factors–Dad being only one of them–I did finally cut it back to the shortest it’s been since December 2017.

Hardly “in honor of” him nor “because of” him…but I think he’d have liked this.

Still, I can’t help but feel sorry that it was losing him, plus five months, to ultimately make that change.

So many cliche words and phrases and ways of expression.

But I’m me.

This is me.

A son missing his Dad.

All over the place.

No good closing, so just gonna end this post here.

21 weeks

21 weeks, tonight into tomorrow. About 2 1/2 hours from now, 21 weeks since I was watching whatever (Falcon & the Winter Soldier?) and heard Mom coming through. Asking my usual “…everything ok?” and those awful words–No, they’re doing CPR on him.

21 weeks…but not quite 5 months. Not til Sunday.

Don’t know where the time’s gone.

Don’t know what to say.

Amazing what feelings and thought sneak in. Or songs. Music. What meanings change, what comes to have so much more meaning in life after losing someone.

Though summer turns to winter
And the present disappears
The laughter we were glad to share
Will echo through the years

All my life’s a circle;
But I can’t tell you why;
Season’s spinning round again;
The years keep rollin’ by.

Well he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
Son I’m proud of you, can you sit for awhile
He shook his head and he said with a smile
What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them, please?

I’ll be there someday (if) I can go the distance
I will find my way if I can be strong
I know every mile will be worth my while
When I go the distance, I’ll be right where I belong

Down an unknown road to embrace my fate
Though that road may wander, it will lead me to you
And a thousand years would be worth the wait
It might take a lifetime but somehow I’ll see it through

Far away, long ago,
Glowing dim as an ember
Things my heart Used to know
Things it yearns to remember

I know the road you walked was anything but easy
You picked up your share of scars along the way
Oh but now you’re standing in the sun
You’ve fought your fight and your race is run
The pain is all a million miles away

20 weeks…rambling

Today’s 20 weeks. Wee hours of this morning…moreso “last night” INTO “today” as I did not sleep that Wednesday evening. Couldn’t sleep after having just lost Dad.

Last night I wound up crashing earlier than usual…but then woke up around 12:28am to use the restroom and better situate myself (fell asleep with my shoes and socks still on, for one thing…had to get those off!).

I was still awake until after 2:30am.

Most of that time I was listening to Band of Brothers; my current audiobook-of-choice for overnight “sound.” Never expected or intended to specifically listen to over 2 hours of it, but that’s what happened.

Couldn’t sleep.

Didn’t want to lay in silence with my thoughts/etc.

Tried moving to a recliner, thought about watching an episode of CSI…but figured I didn’t want to fall asleep and then have it cycle through multiple episodes on me and screw up my ease-of-restarting-where-I-leave-off for binging the series. Learned my lesson weeks ago when I tried to fall asleep to a movie and ended up watching the whole darned thing to NOT try that. And I’ve been absolutely disgusted with general YouTube for all the ads (part of what set me on this CSI course the last month-plus: no ads! I’m 9 episodes into season 9 and NOT HAVING ADS has been FANTASTIC!)

Eventually I wound up laying down again, shifted a couple times, and somewhere in there I dozed off.

…and then woke up to Chloe-kitty getting on my pillow, trying to figure out where my arms were (under a sheet) so she could snuggle on my arm. And then back to sleep for several hours, eventually realizing I’d been hitting snooze for almost 50 minutes when I finally dragged myself up.

It still doesn’t always feel “real,” that Dad’s gone. And while I let myself into my own head like this–writing for this post–I almost feel guilty that it’s not actually forefront in my consciousness anymore; driving everything anymore.

I still recognize weekly that it’s been X number of weeks. At this point, that’ll probably be true through the end of the first year.

I imagine some might worry about me on that–worry about my posts expressing brokenheartedness or sadness or whatever months later; or for marking each week like this. And perhaps I give off certain vibes with that that could be misconstrued as some constant forefront of the mind state…when it’s not.

I’m sure I’ve locked up SO MANY feelings, held in more tears than are healthy, kept myself “distracted” enough…that it’s a coping mechanism for me TO mark the time.

20 weeks. How has it been THAT LONG?

Has it ONLY been that long?

What was totally unfathomable to me for just over 41 years of life came to pass that night in December…and somehow, I’ve kept going for 20 weeks. I’ve made it 20 weeks.

I definitely don’t sleep like I “used to.” While it’s still sometimes rare-ish to “keep dreams” with me past work, into an evening or beyond…I do wake up remembering dreams “in the moment” FARRRR more than any other time in my life that I can recall.

And while the details IN the dreams are almost always different, the general themese are the same…

I’m lost in some hotel trying to find my room that I was just recently in.

I’m in high school and trying to remember the order of my classes and which class I’m supposed to be heading to in the moment.

I’m in college realizing I haven’t been to a class all semester or done any homework and have to face the teacher, my parents, and myself in disappointment at failing the class. (and sometimes trying to FIND the classroom!)

I’m in high school and the bus just went by so I have to walk and be late, bike and probably be late, somehow get a ride and make someone else late, or drive myself without a license nor school parking pass (and probably wind up late).

I’m packing, I’m moving, there’s farrrr too much left to pack and clean and prep and there’s no time left.

Huge hotel like the one I stayed in with Katie and Tim back in 2015; or smaller 2-story Days Inn type place.

Eastlake North, several buildings at BGSU, or several buildings at Kent.

Math class, some kinda science class, Writing class, Sociology, all sorts.

Sometimes a nebulous future move; other times partial reconstructions of moving from the apartment back in 2016; or moving out of the Streetsboro apartment in 2008; often moving out of the Kent apartment in 2006; sometimes even the Bowling Green apartment in 2004.

Aside from the dreams, even the fact of waking during the night and having trouble going back to sleep. For most of my life it’s “always” been so easy for ME to simply “go back to sleep.” Whether having health issues and up multiple times during the night or just once (if at all)…use the restroom, go lay down, and typically be “passed out” again before more than a minute or two. Wake up to the cat crawling in to snuggle, feel her settle on my arm, feel and hear her purring, and then my alarm’s going off later.

Now it’s like if I wake up at all, I’m looking at at LEAST a half hour or more of wakefulness. Sometimes just blah and dreary and lay there without energy (as ought to be expected in the wee hours) but other times I get so restless that I often at least consider going downstairs and working.

I’ve become reliant on “noise” at night. Not so much “white noise” (a fan, a train, a thunderstorm whatever those white-noise-apps will offer) but a voice. I’ve fallen back on audiobooks with mixed feelings of late. I would often use Stephen King’s 11/22/63, Jurassic Park, or The Lost World. Sometimes an Aliens book, for awhile the Harry Potter books; often books in The Meg series. While not to the point of being able to recite the story to you in proper order off the top of my head, at this point I could probably contextualize pretty much any part of 11/22/63 within a couple sentences.

In the “before” I’d hardly catch more than 5-10 minutes of a book; maybe a bit would influence a dream or I’d gradually wake up to realize I was listening to whatever book. Now of late I’ve gotten frustrated with the repetition; trying to find parts of the books I’m less familiar with and don’t so consciously remember.

Not even sure where I’ve been going with all this rambling tonight. It’s 8:41 and I’ve yet to do dinner or really “veg out” yet. As I type, I’m debating both whether or not to post this stuff at all and whether or not to bother eating tonight at this point.

Probably “should” post, if only to avoid kicking myself later for squandering all this writing. Who knows.

20 weeks. Who but God knows how many more?

Some mental ‘vignettes’ of late

Went out for Free Comic Book Day last weekend. Spent more than I’d planned to, but snagged a bunch of X-Men comics, which I’m pretty sure leaves me missing a single issue from having The Uncanny X-Men #s 139-544!

Couldn’t help but get to thinking on the way home about having that conversation with Dad. He’d have been quite glad for me getting together with an old friend, as well as just my going out for FCBD at all. And in his own way, I’m pretty sure he’d have been fairly “impressed” at my haul…or moreso the “number,” that with the acquisition of just one more issue, I’ll have an over-400-issue “run” of the series. (My first-ever issue of the series was #300, that Dad bought for me!)

George Perez passed away that Friday. The ‘news’ (I hate this phrasing) came out Saturday DURING Free Comic Book Day, which (as many others have already said) seemed fitting for the man and a bittersweet thing and all that.

Some part of stuff with Perez is tied into Dad for me; as I’d shared previously in a post over on my comics blog.

Perez was given “6-12 months” in early December…and here we are only about 5 months later. I’ve “expected” the news…every time I’d see a post from his Facebook page, I’d wonder if it would be THE post…but it hasn’t been. It’s been good stuff about him being happy and comfortable, seeing people and being grateful, and I’d somewhat dropped my “guard” on that, and then saw a post yesterday and here we are.

I do feel like I’d be “hit harder” by his passing than I feel, except that it’s “nothing” (to me) against losing Dad only a little over 4 months ago.

Mom and I saw Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness this afternoon. Good movie, some excellent stuff; and the first theatrical film I’ve been to since Dad. Paid off some of having Mom watch Wandavision last year, as well as Avengers: Endgame a couple weeks back; and Spider-Man: No Way Home a week or so before that.

And I did more “running around” this weekend than I have in recent memory. CNJ on Friday; Kenmore, Hazel’s Heroes, Half-Price Books, Comics & Friends, and Meijer Saturday. Walmart after the movie Sunday.

Used to be routine for me. Saturday especially, I’d go out “to get out” and whatnot. Knowing Dad and Mom and the pets were here at home and safe; and along with whatever stuff I’d get, I’d also touch base with them to make sure on whether they needed anything. Dad would often want iced coffee, chips, and/or something sweet. Too many times I put him off from the “milkshake from McDonald’s” because I hadn’t really been through a drivethru since the pandemic hit, and it’s like that was some dumb source of “pride” or such for me, akin to my “4-years of perfect attendance” in high school. (Since losing Dad, drivethrus are “back on the table” albeit hardly as frequent as 2+ years ago).

One thing in the Dr. Strange movie was this idea that dreams are our views into other universes and our counterparts there.

And as often happens, the weird way my mind works, that proved to be some fertile ground for a seed of thought.

My dreaming the last 4+ months has been on a whole different level from any other time in my life. I don’t remember a time before with so many recurring themes and “remembered” dreams and such in such a short span of time. And the way so many of those dreams have “cameos” of Dad…LIKE some tv show or movie, peeking into possibilities.

(Trust me when I say my phrasing here does not begin to do justice to my thoughts overall)

I’m not even sure what else to try to write right now. I’ve had loads of thoughts the last couple weeks…but never when I can write, and then the mind is so fleeting that when I’m at this particular computer or thinking to make notes, the thoughts flee.

Four months

Four months.

Seventeen-and-a-half weeks.



And here it’s been several weeks since I’ve posted.

When I started this blog back in January, I envisioned writing–if not daily, then semi-daily or even weekly–but that’s not come to pass.

I still have a text file with a long list of specific memories to write about, but it hasn’t felt RIGHT, to “just” cycle through some “list” of “topics.” And even WITH that “list,” plenty of other memories that are “just mine.” That I may never share, with ANYone. That were just between Dad and ME.

Though I’m loathe to phrase it QUITE this way, it feels like Mom and I are “finally” starting to “rejoin the world” a bit. Mom went to NYC several weeks ago. I went to Michigan for a weekend with Mike and Drew around then.

This past week I’ve taken my longest non-bereavement-leave stretch of PTO since that Texas trip with Katie and Tim back at the end of June 2015. Went down to Alabama to visit with Sara, her husband, and the boys. Went to the Huntsville Comic & Pop Culture Expo. “Met” Kevin Eastman and got my nearly-30-year-old copy of TMNT #50 signed. (That I originally got at Capp’s Comics that night back in 1992…preceding even The Death of Superman stuff!)

Over the last few days, got to spend time with Sara, with Brittani, with Craig, and even finally with Ashley after all these years as “facebook friends.” Right before driving to Alabama, got to spend time with Hillary. So many other friends I also “owe” some time.

It’s astounding in its way to look back over the years and people in my life and realize just how many years HAVE come and gone already. I’m 41, and have 23+ years’ continuous history with a number of dear friends. Other friends I go back further with–back to 34 years or so.

Had just several weeks over 41 years with Dad, and now four months without.

We got my car fixed the other week. And on the way to Alabama, I found myself recalling that single time that Dad was able to get into this car, and drive it. He’s the one that pushed GETTING the car to begin with, and I couldn’t have gotten it without him, especially back then. And EVEN when it sat “dead” in the driveway for over a year, he was always so…I don’t even know the word I want. Not exactly “proud,” but maybe in that vein. He was always so impressed with the car.

Now it’s one of the “tangible” things I have, from him.

Over these past four months, I’ve “recalled” more dreams than I think I EVER have in my life, in such a short stretch. I don’t remember ever, so regularly, waking up remembering my dreams. And when I self-analyze, I do see where so many of them are obviously tied to Dad, to this loss.

In addition to the still-even-years-after-the-last-move “anxiety dreams” about packing/moving, plenty of recurrences of dreams where I’m back in school, and either can’t remember my class schedule or I’m gonna fail out of a class for not showing up/turning in homework all semester and now having to show up to ‘face the music’. Other dreams where I’m at some hotel type setting and can’t find my room, or I’ve forgotten something and have to go back to my room to get it and can’t remember how to GET back to the room.

And a number of dreams where Dad is “present” but like a “cameo.” He’s just in the other room where I’m “aware” that he’s there. Or I’m passing through a room where he’s asleep or watching TV or some such and I’m taking his presence for granted. Or someone mentions him in the present tense, and it’s like life is still normal or what it was. These remind me of tv show cameos where an actor is gone, but they find ways to keep a character present/involved.

I’ve also had a couple of dreams WITH Dad…breaking down in tears and thankfulness at realizing the past months have been some mistake, some misunderstanding.

Tonight, Mom and I watched Avengers: Endgame. I’d watched Infinity War with her and Dad around Christmas 2020…Dad had drifted through a lot of it/just didn’t really “get into it,” and I never “got around to” having them watch Endgame.

A couple scenes definitely hit me differently this time than when I first saw the film 3 years ago in the theater. Tony getting to see his Dad; and Thor getting to see his Mom.

Thanks to Sara, Brittani, Craig, and Ashley, it didn’t even hit me last night that that was the exact 4 months–the evening of the 29th INTO the 30th.

Part of me feels almost “guilty,” but that’s ME, that’s the way I am “wired” mentally. Plenty of other thoughts surely to process as time goes on.

I’d like to think that Dad would be glad, though. He always commented about how “negative” I could be or was or whatever. I consider(ed) myself “practical,” but I know he would NOT actively want me sad, discouraged, frustrated, etc. He CERTAINLY would NEVER have wanted to be the CAUSE of said feelings.

But that part can’t be helped. Except that when I feel “guilty” for living, for continuing on, etc, I try to remind myself of it.

And like that song says… “but I know you’re in a place where all your wounds have been erased, and knowing yours are healed is healing mine . . . and the thought that makes me smile now even as the tears fall down is that the only scars in Heaven are on the hands that hold you now . . . I know the road you walked was anything but easy. You picked up your share of scars along the way. Oh but now you’re standing in the sun, you fought your fight and your race is run, the pain is all a million miles away…”

It’s those of us left behind that have to face the loss, the pain, the sorrow, the memories. That have to somehow live, even though he’s now apart from us physically.

Until all things are made new.

missing you

Dad, I can still hear your voice, the sounds of your presence. I still feel like I can JUST walk over to the cave, poke my head out, and see you sleeping, or watching tv, or doing something on your phone. I still expect the random notification on my phone to be you sending along another meme or “funny of the day” or whatever via FB messenger, and I still expect those texts from you either needing me or trying to give mom a break but not realizing I’m not even home at the moment.

It still feels weird to take Daisey out the front door in the mornings instead of how I always took her through the garage from the cave. To realize it’s been over 4 months since I set foot on that treadmill–first cuz of whatever benign “craziness” of Thanksgiving into early December and then all that stuff mid-month and toward Christmas, and now I can’t bring myself to use it without you there in the cave for me to check on and keep an ear out for.

It’s really weird that that van is no longer in the driveway, and to my knowledge, never will be again. I never had much attachment to it, but you were so proud of that thing and loved that ramp, and allllll that, even with my complaints about you buying it sight-unseen and all that, even after doing the same with the previous one. But all those times these last couple years of looking out the front window and seeing it sitting there from you and Mom just pulling in, and seeing what I’d see of “the usual routine” for getting you back into the house.

It’s such a weird/bittersweet/something feeling to handle that bag of Shrimp earlier this afternoon, recalling/knowing it’s been there from you getting it that day you and Mom went to Giant Eagle. It’s there because YOU got it, because YOU wanted it, because you wanted to get something for us both instead of just me happening to pick something up and ‘sharing’ it.

Seeing Daisey lay on Mom…she often seems quite content, and normal (for her); does the same thing with perking her head up and whacking her with that tail when I walk in and start talking to her, winding her up. But it’s not the same as it was with you.

There’s this huge freaking hole in life where you’re supposed to be. Where we expected you to be, yet.

46 hours and some minutes left of 2021. I’d already COUNTED us being together into 2022 and beyond. It was just a “given.” “Remission,” you had such a great day for your birthday; and the first THanksgiving in so many years where you felt really good.

We were talking about getting Amy and Steve up for a visit…y’all have heard plenty about one another but never been in the same space in person. All that dumb furniture and such on the patio…despite Mom and my resisting, we should be preparing for gatherings at your behest. The ROMEO club, just having people over. Amanda and Anthony bringing Tanner over.

You were talking increasingly of trying to do some traveling, and while it would’ve been inconvenient, it was on the agenda, it was something we were looking to make happen.

Maybe we didn’t “hang out” “all the time” or spend a LOT of time together, actively-interacting…but it was always such a special thing, such an important thing, these last few years–that we were in the same house.

We didn’t HAVE TO be talking/etc. We were simply together. I’d do my thing, Mom hers, you yours, the pets theirs, and we’d come together and cross paths and such, but we were never falling over each other or crowding one another (except Daisey shoving your legs off the chair while you slept).

Like that song says, “I know the road you walked was anything but easy / You picked up your share of scars along the way / Oh, but now you’re standing in the sun, you’ve fought your fight and your race is run / The pain is all a million miles away…” Life was never “easy” for you. And I know that affected so much of stuff in these recent years. I know I took for granted these last several years my own capabilities. It was always easier to not think much about your recent limitations. You were still YOU! We were still together. And the routine stuff that I couldn’t have even picgtured 4 1/2 years ago just WAS.

And I know that where you are, this is all moot. You’re past it all. YOU fought your fight. YOUR race is run. ANd right now, it’s all great for you, you’re who and what and how you should be, your pain is a million miles away.

It’s those of us left behind, missing your active, tangible prsence, that grieve. For what’s been lost. For what I wasn’t ready for. To not be able to literally just walk into the other room and be with you, see your smile, hear your words.

You’ve always been there. No matter what I thought, no matter what I felt, no matter what problems I had, you were there. No matter the other losses and huge changes, you were there.

And now you’re not.

And you’re exactly who I wish I could just sit and BE with to process.

So I sit and type in tears at this stupid computer, to post to some stupid blog and put myself/this/us/whatever out there, cuz what ELSE can I do?

I miss you, I still need you, and even if the rest of this whole stupid world continues on, mine is not what it was, what I want, and is just missing you.