So as a parent I am forever torn. On one side I love my kids exactly as they are. I have an adorable little boy who is 6 months old and a great little girl who is 4 1/2 years old. They develop some new ability or some new attribute to their personality on a daily basis. I love seeing them grow up, but at the same time I know that each day that passes is another day closer to their independence from me and ultimately the beginning of their own lives. I can’t wait to see them grow up, become their own people, develop opinions and insights, and even have their own families. But when that happens they will break free of me and my time in their lives will be over. This is the essential battle that every parent faces I think.
There is an interesting time in everyone’s life when they overlap with someone else. Right now, my children are, for the most part, part of mine and my wife’s life together. Someday they will have formed their own lives and will view my wife and I as merely a part of theirs. Of course the other side of that is that we will still consider them a part of ours. This leads to the sometimes painful growth and expansion that every family undergoes. That time when children are trying to break away from their parents and become their own person. They no longer want to just be a character in their parents’ story, they want to write their own. Hello teenage rebellion! I think of nights like tonight, when my kids, my wife, and I are all hanging out, talking, laughing, and being together. These nights will barely be a vague memory for my daughter, and will be altogether forgotten by my son. There is nothing I can do to prevent that except to document them in blogs, writings, and my songs. I hope that these all serve to paint a picture for my children someday, that I never had of my parents. I knew my parents only as intruders on my story, rather than the original authors of it. I never considered myself a part of their story, I only considered myself the author of mine. I’m quickly discovering that this isn’t the truth. Days and nights existed long before my memories began that will forever exist as their memories alone. They’re shared with no one, and that is their permanent link into my story.
I have always had trouble coping with the thought that I will die someday. Part of it is that I’m extremely selfish and cannot imagine existing without my wife by my side. I realize that my energy, in one form or another, will pass on into whatever comes next and their will quite possibly be an infinite existence without my wife. When I’m honest with myself, I admit that this thought makes me angry, and almost paralyzed with fear. There was one night, a couple of years ago, when this fear overtook me and I cried uncontrollably in my wife’s arms for the better portion of the night. Finding her was the beginning of what I like to call my “real life.” It was when I became the person that I am, matched what I had always wanted to be, and then continued to evolve into a clearer image. All of my “real life” started with her, and not with some parents somewhere that I no longer claim. Tonight I came to that same cliff, on the verge of tears, my eyes watering, my throat getting soar, and I pushed them back. I have not cried since that night and didn’t cry for 6 years prior to that night. It’s not because of some misconception about masculinity or anything else as absurd. It’s merely because I don’t want to remind her of my never ending fear, which I know she shares. We try to keep it as far back as we can, so as not to completely taint all of the years that will lead up to an eventuality.
There is another part to my incessant fear of death. That is my very vain worry that I will be forgotten after I am gone. My wife, of course, will remember me, and probably my children but who else? It will sound silly, selfish, horrible, and will probably make you stop reading, but the entire reason I started writing, painting, and making music is to try to ensure my memory in the mind of someone. Anyone really. Growing up, I had a very loose family tree. I knew vague stories about my mother’s father, and got to meet him on several occasions where he told me story that I assume to be false. My father’s father died when I was very young and the only memory that I have of him is at his funeral when I saw my father cry. it was the only time that I saw it happen. My mother’s mother tripped and fell when she was drunk one night (she was an alcoholic) and cracked her skull. Her brain was exposed to oxygen for a while which basically caused her long term memory to stop in place. If it didn’t exist or happen at that time, she doesn’t really remember it. She knows that I exist but she’s under the impression that I’m still a little boy. her short term memory isn’t much more than an hour. Because of this I never really formed a relationship with her. The point of all of this is to say that my family tree will be forgotten and essentially restarted with my brother and I. All previous generations will fall into nothing. There is no family house, no family plot, a million divorces, runaways, adoptions, and other things that have clouded the water so much that my “family tree” project in elementary school could fit on two lines of a sheet of notebook paper. It’s a great fear of mine that my wife and I will fall into the same dust storm. The selfish side of me is still devising a way to make sure this doesn’t happen. The hopeful side of me just dreams that the fact that I love my kids, and have a good relationship with them, will ensure that I’m not forgotten.
I take comfort in one simple fact. Each day of my life in the last 8 years has been better than the day before it, without fail. In order to stay sane, I have to believe that this trend will continue for the rest of my life. Similarly, my children become a more precious gift each day that I spend with them. I can only assume that this will continue for the rest of my life. Seeing them develop into their own lives will be one of the greatest things I’ve experienced. It is a thin line that I walk, and depending on the day I will slip to either side of it. It’s scary, it’s incredible, it’s depressing, it’s uplifting, and it has been the most intense journey I’ve ever embarked on. Welcome to my mind.
PS, I played my first show in almost 4 years on Saturday night and it went fairly well. There may be more to come.