Parlor Tricks

When I was young, yes in the good old days, when there were not video games and you had to go to the theater to watch a movie  that has now only been put on DVD in the past 5 years, we used to play parlor games.  The lights were usually dimmed for theatrical effect and there was lots of giggling.

Most centered around a magical effect and those that were the most popular still exist in some form today.


One game was to have a person (preferably small) sit in a kitchen chair.  Four people would gather around, two at the shoulder and two at the knees of the person sitting.

Everyone would solemnly hold their hands over the persons head, stacking them alternating one over the other, hands not touching to create “a force field”.  You would hold it there for a second for effect.  Then each person clasping their hands together forming a deep v with their index fingers would place those index fingers either under the armpit or under the knee of the person sitting.  With a one, two, three, everyone would lift and magically the person was lifted off the chair, supposedly with only two fingers from each of the participants performing the lift.

The person in the chair would squeal, as would the audience.  They would not be held aloft long.  Then of course the largest person in the room would say “okay me next.” and it was time to move on to the next trick.

This next one you can do by yourself.  Go to the wall standing with either your right or left shoulder next to the wall (like you are going to lean on the wall).  Stand about 4-5 inches from the wall.   Extending your arm towards the wall (keep the arm straight) press the back of your wrist into the wall, hard.  Count to 30 while pressing hard.  Now step away.  What happens?  Do you feel like your arm wants to float up?  If not try it again.

I’ve been pressing against the wall for 20 weeks now.   I’ve been pushing and pushing to try to gain some clarity.  Standing there doesn’t make any sense to the casual observer.  The world is rushing by outside, but here is where I have been.   The wall is not moving and I am getting tired.

That day twenty weeks ago has an auto replay button I am trying to find and tape over.   It plays unbidden and I’d like to choose when I hit replay.  I don’t intend to forget it.  It is not dishonoring my son, if I don’t relive it every day.  I do him more honor by living my life I think. I know that intellectually, but I’ve been using up a lot of serotonin lately just to get through what used to be a normal day and the edges are blurred a bit.

I’m trying to step away from the wall so I can float for a while.  The wall is not moving and will be there when I get back.

I liken it to trying to change focus with the depth of field of a camera.  Everything is there in the frame, but it is time to clarify some things and let others fade.   I want to focus on my son’s life and not on the death.   He lived for 29 years and he has only been gone for 20 weeks, surely the 29 years has more weight.

Death is the wall, and as much as our faith might have us believe it has been overcome it is hard, and seems such a barrier to those of us who are living.   Most of my life I have walked right past it , giving it a cursory nod when some one else came up against it.   It is not where I want to be now but in some perverse way its familiarity feels safe.

The days when I do walk away from it, when my friends or family lift me like a feather with their two finger who-do can seem like a guilty pleasure.   Why should I have no pleasure now?  Show me the chapter and verse for that please.  No, that is self-imposed and so can be be dismissed by me too.    I will take pleasure whenever it is presented, I may put some in a to-go box for later if necessary if I can’t stomach it all now .

I laugh louder than I used to when I laugh now.  I’ve noticed that.  I cry louder at times too.   It is like a hyperbole of emotion.   The controls need  recalibration.

Sometimes when laughing I feel the meter tipping, tipping and if I don’t grab on to something I will dissolve into sobs that defy even my explanation.

Maybe that’s why it easier to stay at that wall, it won’t budge and it won’t give anything to me except it’s passive face.   It is plastered all over with my guilt about the fact  that I remain on this side of things, and it is soaked with my tears.

I will learn to step away from the wall.  It feels funny to have your arm suddenly feel like it wants to float up into the air when it no longer has anything to push  against.  Oh, I will probably step back up to stand pushing again.  There is so much death, because there is so much life .   Death the wall, life the landscape and rolling hills that stretch out as far as I can see when I take the time to look.

My son is dead.  I have to say it sometimes.  I thought at first it was like driving tent stakes in to root me to the spot, but now I think I have to say it to unravel this grief that threatens to bind me here by the wall.  This is no game.

Dear son, I have things I need to do and want to do today.  I know this marks 20 weeks since you died.  I miss you.  I woke up this morning with the potential of a day ahead of me.  I’m gonna get busy.  I love you. I will see you later.  Forever. Mom.

About pathfinder

Artist, Writer, Walking wounded.
This entry was posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Faith, Family and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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