It is Friday, October 23, 2015. Two days from now shall mark the 60th year after a small male infant was born in a three-story house while outside snow piled higher than the tops of automobiles. Like an older brother, who was still born, this child’s hold on life was tentative at best. Unlike his eldest brother, he made it through birth alive, thanks to the quick thinking of the doctor in charge.
From that moment on the cards would be stacked against our little warrior. The “surprise child”, the one that “shouldn’t have happened”, the dumb, stupid, lazy, good-for-nothing, in-the-way, girly, ugly, burden of a child, would find that life was not fair, and often not even worth living. Yet he pushed on.
Too young at first to comprehend there was such a thing as “taking one’s own life”, he dealt with the pain and humiliation of repeated sexual abuse by simply “not being there”. It was a talent learned young, learned quickly, and one that would serve him well for decades. One that would grow in strength along with him. As he pushed on.
And grow he did. Tall, skinny, nerdy, our warrior did his best to face life happily, even when strained through a veil of anguish, mockery, and neglect. His college years would be spent inside books, in dark corners, anywhere he could avoid the cruelties of classmates. That wasn’t a new concept; all his school years, from the first thru twelfth grade were pretty much spent the same way. Yet he pushed on.
He would raise children, lose a marriage, gain a life-partner, then lose him as well. Over years he had discarded the family of his birth, latching onto any one that spun through his ever-decreasing circle of trust. Friends would die in war. Friends would die of HIV. Friends would die by their own hand. Yet he pushed on.
Now, some 59-odd years later, he looks back on his life searching for successes. From outside we can point to those times when he survived the odds and persevered. But he doesn’t see them. His mind won’t accept positive elements to his life. His heart “knows better”. Many times his faith was the only reason he didn’t stop pushing, stop trying. Yet now, even now, he pushes on.
Sunday will be quiet and unassuming. No fanfare. No balloons or streamers, cake, or ice cream. By now he detests his birthday, keeping it a major secret in his life so it is not even be mentioned. No, there won’t be a party. Instead he will hold his dog in one hand, a glass of bourbon in the other, and toast his lost partner. The day will pretty much come and go like any other.
And Monday … Monday he will push on. There is nothing else.