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.

In the end, there can be only one…

I’m pretty sure it was Summer 1996 that a friend introduced me to Highlander: The Animated Series. This show followed Quentin MacLeod, and was another in what I retroactively realize was a pile of one-season animated series looking to be the next Ninja Turtles, Batman, or X-Men.

I’m not sure when the show came out–whether it was new then, or in reruns from sometime previous–doesn’t really matter. Point is, it led to me “discovering” the live-action tv series starring Adrian Paul…which had episodes (syndication?) on the USA network, I believe it was.

BUT…there were also other episodes–as I quickly realized, NEW episodes–on another channel (UPN?). Thing is…those aired laaaaate at night, on Saturdays.

I don’t remember any conversations or what specifically or first led to it, but it became a weekly routine for awhile that Dad and I would watch Highlander together Saturday nights. (And sometimes we’d also watch the show that came on after it…some sorta paranormal hunters show or something? Nothing as stand-out to me as Highlander).

I remember Dad enjoying the show, too; or at least, he did not dislike it. Those new episodes would have been Season Five of the series…and while we did miss at least a couple episodes, I remember several of the episodes, including “Comes a Horseman.” That one and its second chapter pair as probably my two favorite episodes of the series. I’ve never given much thought as to why (or not for long enough that I don’t remember thinking much on it). I suspect, though, that it was probably because of the huge import of the episodes and our having gotten to know the characters and such by then.

I do remember tracking down and seeing the three films eventually, somewhere in there. I moreso remember seeing the films than an absolute time-frame. And I’m not sure if Dad would have seen any of them with me…I imagine we at least talked about them. And I vaaaaguely remember some sort of recollection of “Highlander 3: The Final Dimension” as a title, so it’s possible that Dad had seen that or mentioned it; or who-knows-what.

This all would have been my sophomore and junior years of high school. And looking back, something I so totally took for granted in a huge way. In typing this, I also have randomly recalled that we’d watch the show Party of Five, I think also starting sophomore year. And plenty of other shows, but those might be something for another post.

Highlander became a significant property to me, in my life…certainly more than it ever did for Dad. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I don’t even actually have any particularly stand-out things that I think of as “favorites” for him…just that there’ve been loads of shows and such that he certainly enjoyed. Whereas I tend to have fewer like that for myself where I get a lot more involved and explore how deep stuff associated with it goes (like with Highlander–following to the movies, there was a card game, there was a book series, Highlander was the first show I got complete seasons of on DVD, etc).

While perhaps more prominent in the first film, I know Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever?” is used at least once in the show, and I’m pretty sure several times.

Because of Highlander, I’ve also often “contemplated” the nature of “immortality” on this Earth and what it’d mean…and long since determined that I would not want to outlive entire lifetimes’ worth of people.

I’ve also often “thought” of Highlander (for myself) as a sort of analogy to parts of my life. Just as on the show we’d randomly have some other immortal show up and get these flashbacks to where they were Such A Big Deal in Duncan’s life for a time, even though he’s never mentioned them or referenced anything having to do with them from that time until they show up…we often see that essentially, they’ve been compartmentalized. For a 400-year-old man, as significant as even one single year could be, there’s so much experience that he simply carries all these memories and such down through the years, and certain memories come flooding back with the appropriate catalyst–such as that person showing up again for the first time in a (normal human’s) lifetime or more.

As I have “normal” days with my grief over losing Dad…as I feel guilty when I realize it’s been more than one day without “breaking down” or “just crying” or whatever…and as I’m now thinking along these Highlander things while I type…maybe it’s an analogy even now. Even if I seem “normal” or am “capable of functioning ‘as’ normal” around others…it doesn’t mean that these memories aren’t bubbling just below the surface, waiting for someone or something to trigger a “flashback.”

Look at a ninja turtles figure and remember Dad getting it for me. See a game console and think of the games we played. See the van in the driveway and think of all the times helping him in and out of it and such.

No good way to end this piece. Except that, unfortunately, “in the end there can be only one,” and eventually…none.

I am the last Kneeland. The last of my line. Of this branch. There are other Kneelands out there–other branches of the family tree–but of this branch, I am the last.