Saturday, May 15, 2010

Better Things

[All good things must come to an end]
Originally uploaded by
Fabrizio C. Carta

After last nights heavy sobbing, I have moved to a place of numbness.

This evening I watched a very haunting film about a girls early death due to a heroin overdose, called "Better Things." It was quite poetic and quiet in it's presentation of all the people in this girls community. Each of the people in the story were dealing with their feelings of isolation. Some were truly alone, other's were feeling a sense of lost attachment to the people around them. There was definitely a tone of sadness, yet I found it quite moving.

I clearly got the sense that these people had not realized how detached and lost they had become. Somehow this girls death created both fear of their emotions, and clarity of where they didn't want to be. As is the reality of life, many of them were either too deep into their isolation to know where to turn, or so hurt by life to dare to step outside their dark shelter.

What I liked about the film was that these interwoven stories we told through the lives of young teens, and elderly individuals. We usually look at the young, and think about how they have their whole lives ahead of them. We sometimes envy their naivete, and wish we could go back to that age with the wisdom we now have. What was interesting though was that the young people appeared so jaded by their harsh realities. They had lost their wonder and amazement with life. The older folks seemed to be reassessing the trauma's in their lives. One couple spent their days in silence. The wife longing for the lost connection with her husband, who sat just a few feet from her everyday. She had wronged him many years prior, and she feared that his loved had waned. In one scene the husband talks about being in a nursing home, where he witnessed another elderly couple who were never apart. Their love is what filled their days. When the wife died he recalled the husband just sitting in a chair, staring out into no where. The husband telling the story said that as he looked at the elderly widower he realized that he no longer looked the same. His appearance had physically changed.

This story within a story really hits home. I understand what the husband was describing. When the other man's wife died, so did he. What was left was somewhat of an empty shell. The widower was too old, and too tired to figure out how to carry on. They appeared to have lived out their last years in this nursing home. Without the his lovely wife by his side, he was devoid of his spirit.

I know that I am too young to find myself where this other widower had been left, but that's not to say that I don't identify with those feelings. I continue to stare into the mirror to find some part of me that has been missing for many months now. During these eight months the air around me appears to have thickened. Either that or I am now moving quite slowly. I know that the muscles in my face have suffered some atrophy, for they rarely move beyond a blank joyless expression.

And like the youth, I often wonder what life truly has in store for me. If I make the effort, will their really be something there waiting for me that is worth it? I know that I don't want to wither and die. Well, last month I did. Today I do look toward my future with a small sense of hope. The hope comes from the stirring within me that has motivated this possible move to San Diego. I have chosen to trust it, as it is the only voice within me that offers a glimmer of this hope. At the same time I know that life can never be what it used to be. I just hope that I can recognize a new opportunity to grow, or be happy, and continue to trust where ever it takes me. I suppose this is my challenge. To believe that there are better things ahead for me.


  1. Over the past couple of years, I've learned to trust that voice within myself - especially when it is asking to do something -- anything -- that gives me even a tiny tweak of interest in going on. So far, the voice has not let me down. I know what you mean when you write "... I know that life can never be what it used to be." I feel the same way - I know things can't go back to what they were - angry and sad as that makes me feel at times. However, I also know that things don't have to return to the way they were. The future is whatever I am willing to make it be. I can't stay still and be tortured by my longings for the past. Better to move forward, even if it is just a shuffle at first.
    I also know what you mean about the "blank joyless expression" on your face. I was like that for a very long time, and am still like that quite often - but not so severe. For the longest time, I avoided looking at myself in the mirror, but occasionally caught an accidental glimpse and thought how strange I seemed.. those hard-as-steel eyes and slight frown that gave nothing away. That part of me seems to be changing, although, in private, I don't see a difference. But the people I meet, and also my old friends, often comment on what a great smile I have and how I seem to be looking better. That started a little over a year after Don died. Before that, friends said I looked sad and hard. I guess some part of me is gradually coming back to life. In Neil Peart's "Ghostrider: Travels on the Healing Road" (Peart is the drummer of Rush), he writes of his "baby soul" and how it has to be protected and nurtured after the trauma of losing his daughter in a car accident and his wife to cancer about a year later. Maybe, that's what is finally happening -- my "baby soul" is beginning to recover from being trampled and kicked around for a couple of years. If I give it a chance, maybe it will come back to life. That's what keeps me going right now.

  2. Dan, all your thoughts, your introspections of how you are doing, how you are feeling compared to other times, and where you think (today at least) you would like to be along this journey are the hallmarks of your strength and the love you carry for Michael. you beyond anyone knew him best. if you could have a day as in Albom's book, "For One More Day," i think you would find Michael saying how proud he is of you for the way you are handling something he knows will be forever sad for you. i wonder if you meditated on this, if you would find yourself feeling it in your heart more and more.

    i am happy that you can reach for a new future in San Diego. new job. new people. new home. i pray it brings to you and your children a world of good and peace.