Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Today has been difficult. My readers know that my father died recently, and the reality is that I don’t want sympathy. This is something many people have been through, and many more will go through, so it’s not unique to me. In fact, with good luck, everybody will experience the passing of their parents. This might sound cruel, but it means that the parents will not have to experience the passing of their children, which I imagine to be so much worse.
The only thing that might make my situation a little different is that for me it has occurred relatively recently. The technicalities have passed, but my family is one that tends to bury our emotions along with the remains of our loved ones. I’ve welled a tear or two, which in my family is an absolutely shameful thing for men to do. But I have always been overly emotional.
The funny thing is that no matter how distant you feel from your family, loss still hits you rather hard, and no matter how deeply you bury the feelings of loss, they are still present. Last night, these feelings made themselves known in two dreams, both of which woke me up, and both of which made me cry.
It’s funny how your brain can create memories in your dreams that can seem absolutely real but have no basis in fact. In my dreams, my brain recreated a family breakfast with the six of us, all surrounding our great kitchen table. Oh, it was gorgeous, and it never existed. First of all, in my family, there are only four of us, but I was absolutely convinced that the memory was real, right down to the song about Styrofoam, you know, by Crosby, Stills and Nash. You know the one, the song you’ve never heard because, to the best of my knowledge, they never recorded. Still, pretty nice song.
In the dream, my family faded as soon as I remembered my parents had died. Then the dream became one of fixing up the house I had inherited, but, no, I didn’t inherit a house, and we never had this particular house anyway. All just a dream.
Nobody really understands the purpose of dreams, but experts have hypothesized that it’s a way for our minds to work out problems and issues. It’s not the first time I’ve woken up in tears and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Crying is cathartic. As socially unacceptable as it is for men to do so in public, it’s so critically important for mental health. I think that was the point of my dreams last night, just to help me get some of these feelings out. Even as I write this, I remember the feelings the dreams evoked, and I have to choke back tears once again.
A very good friend of mine suggested that I do something in memorial for him. It’s actually a beautiful idea. Not a service or a ceremony, and certainly I wouldn’t invite anybody, especially since nobody here knows him anyway, but what she suggested is that I find something to do that he would enjoy. Sadly, I can’t think of what that could possibly be. Isn’t it tragic that I don’t even know my own father well enough to know what he would enjoy?
I have decided that, once I have my inheritance, part of it will be donated to a couple of charities, one in the name of my mother and one in my father’s. But I don’t know, giving money doesn’t seem very personal. Still, I think it will help, but what about now?
Whether I want to admit it or not, I have to deal with these emotions, and the loss that I am feeling. My regular readers know that I suffer from chronic depression, and this is no doubt part of the reason. Such is the problem with burying feelings rather than dealing with them. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at actually dealing with my feelings, although I try very hard to help my friends with theirs. Another irony is how much easier it can be to help others through their feelings than your own.
I can tell you that my friends are beautiful inside and out, with beautiful minds, beautiful souls, and beautiful hearts. I’m depending on them for their advice and guidance, their insights. For my readers who, like me, struggle with depression, do not know how to let go of their pain, or to face their losses, turn to those who love you. I have no idea how I am going to deal with this, but my dreams make it clear that there are still issues for me to work out, and I can promise you that my friends will be important as I do so.