Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's Not "Self-Pitty", It's Just Pitty

"If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain." - Emily Dickinson

There have been moments, months, in my life when that has been my sole and driving purpose. My only goal, in those breathless days, was to mend a heart or prevent it's damage. Not that there was anything particularly noble about me. Not that there ever has been. I think, simply, that if I focused on the pain of another... my pain would either fade into the background or would cease to exist.

As I type this The Life of Reilly, a one man show featuring the enigmatic Charles Nelson Reilly, plays on Netflix in the background. It may have been the inspiration of  for the theme, at least the theme so far, of this piece. It's funny in a sad way that Reilly is not the two, or even one, dimensional character we've all come to know. Of course he's not. No one is. No one, no matter how much we wish, believe or persist, is as two-dimensional as we believe or make them out to be.

"The thing that's funny 
is that everyone thinks I'm dead." 
- Charles Nelson Reily

I'm not. I'm not two-dimensional. Occasionally, however, I am too-dimensional. T - O - O,,, I am too much. It's amazing that my wife continues to put up with me. It's astounding that anyone puts up with me in any fashion. But there are many who do.There are many who put up with me. Even more so, there are those who love me. And I don't know why. I cannot explain to you, with anything but cheap guesses, why any individual person loves me.

Now... Now I am dying. There has been much argument about it. "Only God knows the time you have left..." "The doctors are just guessing..." "Your attitude is just too good. You've got plenty of time..." "I don't see how God could take you home right now..." Yes, there has been much argument. The worst statement is, of course, "We're all going to die sometime. Right?"

Now... Now I am dying. As I dye, sometimes I lay in bed and staring through the television. Sometimes I paint, write or sing feverishly hoping for that one piece of master work to escape my brain and prove my worth.

Now.... Now this man who, for most of his life, really has tried to stop at least one heart from breaking is dying. For the most part I can't seem to find others who can, or will, make the time to spend a few final moments with me. Granted, a lot of those are newer friends than old. Many have only known me, or become reacquainted in the last two years as cancer has plucked at the "G" string on my life's guitar knowing that string, played open (without fretting) to create a beautiful "G" note that carries forever, is the one that always breaks first on any guitar that I play... that string is, for lack of a better metaphor, my string of life. Cancer plucks at it until it snaps. Only a guitarist, or one who's played with a guitar enough to break a string, knows the pain of a breaking string flying back to cut your face or hand and draw fresh blood.

Now... People don't have the time. I hope they make the time when I do die. Make the time to show up at my memorial service, for Kristin's sake, and... well... not so much "pay" their respects as say, "Goodbye."

The other day I saw an old friend in a large store. He made eye contact and then, hoping I hadn't noticed did a heel pivot and headed a different direction. I saw it. Each painful mili-second. I even checked with Kristin to make sure I had truly seen what I had thought I had seen. I don't know if what I did to him is real or imagined. I never will know. But I will continue to strive toward fixing, healing, helping wounded hearts.

Tonight, it's a little after eleven o'clock in the evening now, I go to bed believing that I have made as many amends as I have given the chance to make. I'm sorry if I missed you. I hope your heart will heal. I hope, I really do, that you'll take the time to say goodbye.

I doubt he ever said, or wrote for that matter, "Meh,"
but I'd like to think that, in the spotlight today, he would.


Wini said...

I'm sorry you feel alone. I look for you everyday. You are an inspiration. I can't be the only one who feels that way!

Shell said...

I can think of no more noble of a goal for your life than to not break a heart... I am sure there are many hearts that you have lifted up out of pain in your time. You have given many hearts hope, and joy... Maybe the friend you saw feels awkward and sad and doesn't want to tell you goodbye, perhaps that is why he turned away. He has to live with that regret... I pray daily for you and your wife during this time. Thank you for updating when you can. You really have touched so many lives, your life IS special and important!

Lisa Plumb said...

Again, thanks for being honest about where you are in life, Aaron. Still praying often for you and Kristin.

Anna said...

Thanks for writing this blog, it really is appreciated. In writing honestly about your life and your journey to the end of it you're shedding light on some very dark corners and making it easier for all of your readers to live better, more whole and connected lives. You've touched a lot of hearts, both here and on Gawker. I've never commented before, but reading this entry I realized that I just have to say thank you.

Kathleen said...

Yes - what Anna said. Thank you, Aaron.

Marian said...

Thank you Aaron, for your thoughtful words and for sharing your experiences with us. Your posts are beautiful, insightful, and even poetic. You are having a positive effect on a lot of people, and you should know that. You mentioned some dreams you had a little while back about visiting coffee shops, and feeling uncomfortable about seeing friends. I am sure that the people who love you feel some of the same feelings--if only because it's difficult for most people to deal with overwhelming emotions. It is clear you are loved by many. I wish you peace and comfort in this journey ahead.

Hazel said...

It was totally honest and despite all the mistakes and imperfections in life if you can bare the truth, your soul is still untouched by all the surrounding taint.

Thanks for sharing.