Goodbye Blue Monday

posting this on january 22nd in some odd way, makes perfect sense.
you see, i was run over by a car 51 years ago on this date.
i was supposed to either be dead, a vegetable or paralyzed from the neck down (i guess this covers about everything).
just by chance, the first black U.S.neurosurgeon was visiting coney island hospital that day and changed the odds, markedly.
probably, because of this man – doctor thomas matthew – i survived quite extraordinarily.
there have also been examples of luck spun in an entirely different direction.

with this in mind, please read;

a few days ago, i was walking on broadway, here in bushwick, bk.
it was around 3:30 in the afternoon.
approaching, about twenty-five feet in front of me, was a man walking with who i assumed was his daughter.
she looked to be about four or five years old. like most kids, she was filled with “kid energy,” or sugar, chattering away, looking up at her father who was slowing his “dad” steps to even up with his daughter’s little-kid steps, while engaged in conversation with her.
i heard none of the words but assumed it was what dads and daughters must speak about after the school day.
the sprightly girl’s steps were switching between walking normally, then sideways, sliding her feet side-to-side, then returning to stepping forward.
this was what? three? five seconds?
somewhere, as i watched them draw closer, then pass by, i remember asking myself – almost out loud – “how could he do it? how do you shoot one of those little things? these kids?”
it was almost as if i forgot that a child is a human being.
i couldn’t connect a person with a gun even aiming a gun at a child.
i did my best to conjure up a mental picture of a little kid being blown away by a guy with an assault rifle and couldn’t do it.
by the time we passed each other, i was a wreck.
i opened the door to my loftspace and ran upstairs.

the photo that circulated in the press, the one of those policemen huddled together weeping, appeared behind my eyes.
i can’t imagine walking into a room like this. a room of slaughtered little kids.
those poor guys; what a day’s work.
i do not envy their gig.
a wave of horror caused a shiver to run up my back. i had to shake it off, literally.
“a room of slaughtered little kids” – that should be carved in stone somewhere, preferably nearby the NRA’s main office.

with the newtown slaughter over a week old, the well-worn procedure followed by the likes of the NRA, now burrowing out of their nickle-plated corporate trenches, began their defense of guns argument, this time pointing at everything and everyone except the item itself – guns.
it pitched the need for more guns, as if we didn’t see that coming.
it pitched the need for more cops with more guns, everywhere.

you know what guns are; they kill firemen battling blazes set by monsters who want to play arcade games, like what happened a few days later, on christmas eve.

i can’t recall what their (the NRA’s) approach was in defending themselves after the colorado movie theater slaughter, the wisconsin temple slaughter or the gabby giffords assassination attempt and massacre.
they said either the same thing or nothing at all.
i could almost see them sitting at a table somewhere, speaking in hushed tones, “maybe we should lay low on this one, right wayne?”
that’s about what you get with the likes of these people.
add to that, how the press cycle winds down the horror with replacement fodder after selling the crime, the tragedy, the memorial services and the future.
the press walks on eggs after trumpeting bombastic headline news waiting for the signal from either side that it’s safe to lurch forward.
it’s a well-worn dance. it, like so much of america’s politics, is a brain-numbing exercise in circular behavior that relies on memory lapses, other drama, more memory lapses, the marketing of panic, political spin and bullshit.
more of the latter than the former.
dial up the other noise – any other noise, quick.
there IS no future here.

if presidents and five year olds are in the bullseye for fifty years, nothing will change.
that’s a guarantee.
take it from “a kennedy.”
if common-sense gun owners agree that assault rifles, insanely large gun clips and magazines aren’t a good idea, yet the NRA and the gun lobby stymie any change to this insanity, rest assured that whatever deal that’s made will be cosmetic at best.

all we have is faith in our collective jesuses, buddhas, krishnas, flying spaghetti monsters and a rabbit’s foot to protect us.
oh, or a gun if all other options won’t work.

in march, 1990, i got a remarkable phone call informing me that my brother was murdered.
he was executed with a bullet to the brain, just as i so vividly remembered november 22nd, 1963.
i became “a kennedy,” that moment.
the next morning, we headed across the country to claim my brother’s body.
triple murder-suicide in cody, wyoming.
the killer was a convicted felon who was able to procure a gun from a pawnshop in town without a background check;
a simple background check would have made his purchase impossible, but i understood – we were in the wild west, the land of mountain men, cowboys and rugged individualism.
while in town, as we made arrangements for the memorial, i ate enough valium and drank enough beer to float through the ordeal.
besides, when a murderer turns the gun on himself, it becomes a package deal; his suicide being the bright, red bow that ties it all together.
no muss, no fuss. no judge, no jury.
in-between the tears, i thought about how lucky we were. another kind of luck – a winding-double-gainer kind of luck.

unfortunately, this luck did not work well for my mother.
on march 3rd, 1990, i lost not only my brother, but the person who bore and raised me.
i mean, she was on this planet for another sixteen years, but the glaze was in the eyes till she made her way to halleluja boulevard and eternity avenue about six years ago.
one day, she confided to my sister that she starts her day – everyday – making a promise to not commit suicide.
every day.
for her, a successful day is a day you can fall asleep with the possibility of waking up seven hours later and rest assured the paxil and valium became the math for a couple of thousand days and nights.
plus, the no-suicide pledge was so she won’t be condemned to the firey depths of hell promised to her by the catholic church that glowered over her like a gangster, making sure she did the “right thing” while dangling the “heaven carrot.”
that, like so many other subjects that spring-up here, is a discussion for another time.

a couple of days before she traveled to the eight-electro-plasma-ocean of the ninth dimension, my mom asked, “would you be upset if i told you that every night before i close my eyes to sleep, i pray for god to take me?”
“upset? me? if that’s what you want, i’ll pray for that, too,” was my reply.
i prayed and prayed.
she died a few days later.
it wasn’t my prayers that freed her. maybe it was god. maybe it was her broken heart, but regardless – i was the happiest guy at the wake.
imagine that.
“so sorry for your loss.”
“don’t be – there was no loss, just a glorious release to the great beyond. i’ve never been happier for my mother.”

a note to all you smart men out there;
no man on this planet will ever know what it is to lose a child.
no way, no how.
for this reason, more than anything, men need to shut the hell up about “women things,” but that’s another story.
men haven’t got a clue.
that, too, is another conversation for another time.

when the connecticut massacre occurred, my heart sank.
the feeling of helplessness assaulted me on so many levels, but most particularly on the “mother level.”
i see twenty mothers who will stare blankly for moments at a time at a point beyond everything, for the rest of their lives;
an awkward, minute-clumsiness will possess the air around these women at molecular levels in ways i can’t even imagine.
i won’t pretend that i’d know what these mothers are thinking.
i didn’t pretend to know what my own mother was thinking, but when i saw her standing alone, looking beyond, i knew she swam alone in a pool of atomic-level confusion and i knew that i’d never comprehend her moment.
i can only guess.
i could assume it was something like how i felt sitting in the back seat of the jeep as it brought my family from the airport in billings, montana to cody, wyoming. we were driven there by my brother’s best friend who had to identify the body after the crime was discovered.
kind greetings and minimal conversation melded with engine sounds and the hum of tire to blacktop.
i sat huddled in a wordless questionmark inside a dark void.
my only guess would be that a mother’s questionmark would be a lot bigger in an ever-darkening void.
so, in thinking about connecticut, i multiplied my mother’s sadness by twenty.
and after i did that, i factored moms all over this country and all over the world who had to (and will have to) summon the strength to bury who they had to push through their birth canal and into the light and air, into a world of promise and betrayal; joy and disappointment, winning and losing, famine and thirst, abundance and fortune…..and drones.
can’t forget the drones.
i had to mention the drones.
apparently mothers the world over feel like the mothers of newtown about the loss of their child.

the question whether any of this matters, for me, is answered when i awaken and mistake the sheet and quilt on which i lay for the green-felt, stretched everywhere, beneath everything, something the grifting lizard-guy (who sounds like eduardo ciannelli and looks like omar sharif) may have told me or simply dropped in my feeble little human hard drive.
as much as one might believe in miracles, there are others who might believe that the same amazingness could be attributed to fate, self-will or glorious-diamond-encrusted-tuxedo and tails-wearing luck.
i’m a firm believer in the latter.
i can change this opinion at will, but i’ve noticed that as i move toward my reunion with the oldest atoms in the universe, these notions gain strength.
besides, it’s only tuesday here.

One Response to “life is a salad full of days and nights, tossed in a vinaigrette of luck”

  1. Jane

    I am a mother who for miutes at a time stares blankly at a point beyond everything. I will also have this stare for the rest of my life. My son was shot and killed right in front of me his mother and my youngest daughter, his little sister I held the child i brought into this world in myself arms as he took his last breath and left this world. As our children grow up all wet to do is kiss them when it hurts and make it all betterhem from . We ban
    nds ,kiss and make it better. The most helpless and heart wrenching moment of my life is engraved ion my mind and in my heart forever June 13th 2019 that was the day I lost my only son. A person I have never met in mtly life gave a a life sentence to heartache and sorrow. In memory of Anthony James Whitaker I wanted so much to be able to kiss it and make it better. I love you son. Mom

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