At One Remove

I write this from a coffeeshop in downtown Portland. I am in town today—and through tomorrow—for manifold reasons. The primary being that I was able to see my favorite band on their farewell tour. Rush has been cranking out hit after hit and album after album for forty years and they’re ready to throw in the towel. Their unique aggregate of instrumentation, lyrics and high-pitched vocals—in a word: Progressive Rock and Roll—has been a great strength to me the past six or seven years. So when I learned of the R40 tour back in January, the act of selling my (largely unused) Xbox 360 was a necessary measure in order to be able to purchase and procure a ticket. I should like to add that the concert was stunning. Loud—monstrously so, the bass looked to trump my heartbeat many times throughout the evening—powerful, intense. The IPA I sipped on while waiting for the show to start did a lot to calm the nerves of an individual who doesn’t necessarily take to arena rock with thousands of likeminded fans. But yeah, I got to see my favorite band for the first time and probably their last time.

I’m also here to heal. Now imagine such a momentous occasion happening on the heels of a disproportionately inverse-feeling event: I lost my father two weeks ago to complications of kidney failure. While this eventuality was known and had been coming for longer than I’ve been a Rush fan, the sudden drop was no less world-shattering. I will say, though, that the grief cycle has been a shallow one as he had been suffering for so long. The act of his passing was more of a mercy stroke than anything. So in a way, I thank God for it; he’s not suffering anymore. But now I’m numb. Having experienced alternately the highest high of my life (with reference to entertainment) barely removed from what would look to be the lowest low tinged with that glimmer of hope for Heaven, I don’t really know what’s next. Now it’s just about me and God, and not in that order. I’m thankful to be in a big city, watching my demographic wheel by, unbeset, it would seem, by these mountains and valleys. I’m here to heal, to be alone with the Lord. To enjoy what looks to be the last leg of a journey that, really, began about a decade ago when I watched my parents marriage fracture and dissolve in a permanent way. Talking to my brother yesterday—who was able to get a week off from the Marines in order to see our dad’s house in order—I found that he had looked up our mother in her new life. Maybe feel out the idea of informing her what happened (she and I haven’t been on speaking terms for five years or so). But looking in from the outside (I could read this off his explanation), I know there’s nothing there anymore. So we’re alone in this world. Thank God we have God and each other.

Growing up, I would see films with orphans and read books around the same and even know bright young things who were walking alone through this world. And those things don’t even touch on my imaginations toward such a lifestyle. To where you’re self-sufficient and maybe you have your friends but you go home alone and nurse this wound where once (maybe) was an interwoven family structure. A mild self-pity born out of an all-encompassing genuine tragedy. It was appealing, I don’t know why. Before I go any further, the whole point of life is to strike out on your own and make it in this world. But I never could envision that future for myself. It’s almost as if all the aforementioned media was pointing to what has just happened for real, in my life. And now I find myself on its threshold, preparing for my long drive back to Medford (I’m grateful for the fun I’ve had while here and for the time spent with the Lord) and to an empty apartment, save for my sweet cat Fiona.

I don’t know what else to say. Not only do I feel numb, but I feel also like I’m observing this stuff from without. And I know I’m not alone (“…because the Father is with me.” John 16:32), but like the lamb shorn to whom the gentlest breeze is a discomfort, I feel raw. I know I’ll heal over and that the only scars to remain when it’s all said and done are the ones Jesus bears—and indeed will for all eternity, but… I don’t know right now.

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