My dad had the habit of listening to the same cd over and over again. It was inherited, I think, as I am a chronic repeat listener of the same one lp ad nausea whenever I get a new favorite band. It drove my dad nuts when I did it yet he subjected me to the same thing for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, these cds were boss (Like Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black). Othertimes, not so much (Why did I buy him a Barenaked Ladies album for Christmas in 6th grade? Why?). One such of these albums was Sam’s Town by the Killers. I remember how the Killers used to be good and I remember how awesome Hot Fuss was when it first came out but by the time Sam’s Town hit, I grew weary of Brandon Flowers’s cocky attitude and dissing of Franz Ferdinand as my loyalties did and always will lie with Alex Kapranos. Aside from a few track, Sam’s Town never clicked with me and I dreaded getting in the car with my dad. Now, however, it’s different.

It’s summer and I’m walking down the street in the rich part of town at ten in the morning. The houses here are towers with multiple balconies and heated floorboards. I don’t belong here in my scuffed boots, with my hair still knotted from the shenanigans of the night before but I’m earning my keep this week by walking a white fluffball dog named Lola. I have my headphones on and since I stopped being so devastatingly sad, I haven’t cried. In fact, I’ve done everything but cry as my lust for life turned into weeks on end of partying. I justify it with the logic that, as I’m entering my late twenties, I won’t be able to rage anymore. Not like I used to. So I might as well give my mid-twenties one last hurrah while they’re still here, clinging to me like the dirt and sweat and liquor of summertime’s disappearing.

Suddenly, my iPod plays a song I haven’t heard in years and I recognize it immediately: The closing track of Sam’s Town and my eyes burn.

Each lyric from “Exitlude” is heartwrenchingly apt, from the opening lines (Regrettably, time’s come to send you on your way) to the sentiments of the chorus (We hope you enjoyed your stay; It’s good to have you with us, even if it’s just for the day) and even the eerie inclusion of the word “daddy”, making it so perfect for my life that I’m pretty sure Brandon Flowers wrote the song specifically for me, as if he knew that I’d need it one day.

It’d been so long since I’d cried that it felt foreign; it felt like I’d forgotten how. I gasped and I sobbed and it was how I used to spend my days in the ‘before’, when I lived in that transitional time before ‘after’, when I hadn’t yet figured out how to live again. Only now, the tears were different. I wasn’t sad. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t even desperately want my dad here. I’ve accepted the fact that he’s gone. People die. It happens all the time. It just sucks when it happens to you.

It’s strange to cry for a skeleton from your past when you’ve made peace with the its role in your life. Before, I cried that my dad would never get to be at my wedding. Granted, before my dad had died, I’d never given much though to marriage. It wasn’t until after he died that I realized everything I’d robbed him of: He’d never get to tell me how dumb I was when I told him I was engaged; he never got to complain about making the drive to Iowa when I told him I wanted to get married in a barn; he never got to disapprove of the name I chose for the grandkid he never got to fall in love with; and he never got to see me grow up into this super strong pixie sized Amazon warrior I’m becoming. But it’s all about perspective. My dad died and I fell asleep for a few months and when I woke up, I was an adult.

We had some good times when he was here though. 


It was worse than I let on, worse than I told anyone. It was worse than I even suspected it could ever become, the thoughts of suicide creeping up from behind me. I could see it from my periphery, the fog of sadness surrounding my line of vision until everything I used to be was enveloped in gray. Days passed in minutes, weeks in hours. He only died in February, how could it be four and a half months already? I laid in bed and couldn’t move, couldn’t cry. I laughed callously at my own pathetic nature, remembering when I longed to stave off tears for the duration of a whole day. You see, I’d assume that when the tears dissipated, they’d be replaced by a newfound sense of wholeness. Instead, they were replaced by a constant darkness, even on the bright days with my best friends beside me.

The depression was a rock slide that began the day of my dad’s wedding and didn’t let up until I was a heap of emaciated bones, laying on the carpet of my freshly cleaned room (Wasn’t a clean room supposed to make me feel less cluttered as well…?), thinking of ways I could gracefully kill myself without scarring my friends, my family, the people I work for. You see, I’d planned it all out: I had to be a nanny for at least another year and a half but after my obligation to the kids was done, I’d be free to die if I so chose, if my desire for death was stronger than my now non-existent lust for life. But a year and a half? With the next week seeming barely manageable, how could I be expected to make it a year and a half? To me, time was unfathomable. (Wasn’t I just fighting with my dad about what nylons to wear to his wedding? Wasn’t I just getting ready for his funeral? Wasn’t I just telling my ex-boyfriend how I never wanted to see him again? Wasn’t I just being comforted by my estranged former best friend, as I sobbed about how badly I wanted to fix things, fix everything?)

I slept restlessly until four p.m. every day, getting high to dull the bright lights and jagged colors of sobriety. At first, the drugs made life tolerable. Soon, however, they became necessary for me to function. Once so social, so vibrant, I was now reduced to a silent statue of the girl I used to be, and the only times I left my house were the times that I knew if I stayed home, alone, I’d do something drastic and regrettable. Even though I longed for death, the ember inside of me still remembered the heat of its extinguished flame and oh, how it wanted that back.

Internally, my narrative was split in two and I tried to logic with myself, to interject my false truths into the most comforting of sentences: I know you want your old life back, Amber. I know that’s all you want. But… You can’t have it. Ever. And you don’t want this life. So where does that leave us? What do we have now?

I didn’t love anyone. I couldn’t stand the idea of being touched. All my old anxieties and disorders came back to me like old friends – And the fact that I had so few friends these days made my bulimia, o.c.d., social anxiety, and fear of physical intimacy all the more appealing to keep close.

So when I left the house that day, I expected a day just like any other – I’d be there but not present, always staring at people with the blank, emotionless eyes of a girl behind the frosted glass of sadness that kept her from connecting with anyone. Instead, however, I found life waiting for me outside. I woke up from my hibernation and all my friends were here and they all loved me and they were all so happy to have me back. And that’s when I let it go – The pain, the sadness, the constant desire to die. I let it go. And ever since, it’s been gone. Suddenly, the world is Technicolor again. I can talk with freedom. And the sense of clarity I have about my sense of self is enormous. For the first time in twenty-seven years, I know who I am. And it ends up, I’m kind of a lovely person.

I remember the start of 2011. I’d just moved to Ann Arbor and I felt wide-eyed and optimistic, on the brink of self-betterment. It’s strange to think about now, the fire and vibrancy with which I lived life in winter. There was a spark in me then and oh, how it burned.

2011, you see, was supposed to be the best year of my life. It was supposed to be the year I quit smoking, the year I cemented myself as a fixture in the music industry, the year that I had a solid family base, the year I got my shit together, the year I made new friends and finally began to settle down from the arrested development of my mid-twenties. 2011 was supposed to be the year everything changed.

It ends up that 2011 was the year where everything changed. Just not the way I expected.

We all know what happened. It’s old news by now but even all these months later, I still find myself having to tell the tale to people still of what, exactly, it was that happened to the girl they used to know – A strange amalgam of old friends I haven’t talked to in years, mainly, as well as ex boyfriends looking to reignite summer flings. Reactions vary from overbearing empathy to shocked disbelief to a sudden end of all contact, the latter of which only comes from the aforementioned exes and I can’t blame them. I used to be a serial-dater and when a former would reestablish contact with me, I usually greeted them as one would an old, dear friend, thus starting a revolving door of repetition, re-dating the same guys over and over with the relationship never being taken too seriously on either side. Now, however, there is a void inside of me and it’s not ineffable. It’s a chasm that leaves me quiet in crowded rooms, feeling cold around the warmest of people. It’s not just my appearance that has changed, you see. It’s me. I’m different. And it’s not necessarily for the better.

The physical change and emotional shift happened gradually but simultaneously. Suddenly, I’m thinner and my hair is longer than it’s been in years. My skin has the pale sheen of lifeless porcelain and my lips no longer curve upwards in a heated display of affection. I don’t flirt like I used to and even though I still fuss over my eyeliner and outfits with the meticulous nature of a perfectionist, it’s no longer with the same intent. I don’t want the approval of  gentlemen. I don’t want to sleep with anyone but myself, you see.  It’s all strange to me – I made so much progress to stop being the girl who physically shuddered at the caressing touch of a boy only to fall into the same phobias again. The idea of kissing causes me a flood of nausea. The thought of being in a situation in which something sexual could transpire makes my body recoil. It’s just like being sixteen all over again, just like the time a boy tried to kiss my teenaged self and as he leaned in, I stood up and without a word ran panicked from the room. When my best friend at the time asked me why, I told her it was because I felt like I was going to throw up on his face. She told me it wasn’t normal to “want to puke on a hottie” and she never really brought up boys to me again. The only difference between then and now is the fact that I currently possess the highest self-esteem I’ve ever had. For the first time in my life, I know I am beautiful and I know I should be desired, the only problem is the fact that I feel no desire whatsoever.

It was about this time three years ago that Okkervil River released The Stand-Ins, an album which is now played with remarkably infrequence around these parts. It was right after the most depressing birthday of my life when a track off The Stand-Ins found it’s way back into my consciousness. That track was “On Tour With Zykos” and I felt compelled to listen to it for mainly one reason or, rather, one lyric – They wish they had me, Like I wish I had fire; What a sad way to be, What a girl who got tired. I sigh and I say it to myself and oh, how true it rings, as does the whole song.

The track describes a girl eerily similar to myself – She balks at the idea of love, preferring to live in an elaborate life of partial daydreams and half-formed desires. She chases halfheartedly after white lie fantasies as her real life slips away – Another day tossed and done.

I go home, take off clothes, smoke a bowl, watch a whole t.v. movie – I was supposed to be writing the most beautiful poems and completely revealing devine mysteries up close. I can’t say that I’m feeling all that much at all… At twenty-seven years old.

I remember hearing that song upon it’s initial release and thinking, at twenty-four, God, if I still relate to these sentiments in three years time, I just might off myself. The idea of such a colorless future seemed a fate worse than death to me in my youthful optimism and in the years since that initial thought formed in my head, I have become accomplished! I have become sucessful! And then… Everything changed.

My physical features, attitude, and overall disposition  aren’t the only things that have turned their intangible backs on their former selves. Two days ago, you see, I quit the music industry. There were a  million reasons but basically, what it boils down to, is the fact that I’m no longer feeling it. Sadly, by “it”, I mean “life”. There’s no fire here anymore. There’s no passion. I now live in a void of depressing firsts – The first Easter without my dad comes quick, proceeded soon by the first birthday ever that I don’t receive so much as a phone call from a parent. It stings more than I let on and I end the day a collapsed mess on my living room floor, knees down on the carpet as I stare at my hands, aware that the only reason I’m not crying is because I’ve drugged myself into an emotional oblivion. I spend my days in a haze and before I realize so much as a week has passed, it’s father’s day. Soon, it’ll be my dad’s birthday, fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and then… It’ll have been a year. But where, exactly, did that year go?

It was a prophetic moment in March when I sat on the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette and thinking “Soon it’s going to be 2012 and I’m going to wonder what happened to my life.”

March seems like minutes ago.

It seems like I was just there, walking awkwardly down the aisle in too-tall-heels as a bridesmaid in my dad’s January wedding. It seems like I just got lunch with him. It seems like I just got the call telling me he wasn’t breathing.

But it wasn’t “just”.

It’s encroaching on six months.

And with each day, I’m that much more removed from the girl I used to be.

It’s a truth no one tells you: Your parents will die and you will ache an immeasurable ache that leaves you feeling cold in the warmest of company, alone in the crowdedest spaces. It hurts every day and you will cry and you will scream and you will feel like a cork screw has been inserted ‘tween two of your ribs and that your heart has been twisted, contorted, and squeezed physically through a space far too small for it to fit out of. Your parents will die and the word “sad” will have a new meaning. Your parents will die and you will be alone.

Perhaps it’s an emotion that comes with youth – I insist that I’m too young for this. I realize that I’d feel too young at any age but 26? There was so much more life for me to live before this swell of sadness overtook me! There was a boy to meet, an engagement, a wedding, there were kids to be had! Even more important, although seemingly more insignificant, there were moments that were to take place – Not events, just moments. There were jokes to tell, episodes of The Simpsons to watch, songs to listen to, ice cream to eat, and mini-golf to play. There were stories that will never get told about things that will never happen. There was a whole slew of memories that should be nestled in bits of my brain that I can’t think of now because they never happened and it isn’t fair.

I used to think about my dad dying. It wasn’t often but still, I thought of it. And in these thoughts, I was older, an accomplished adult with glasses in a button up shirt and pencil skirt, the kind of clothes adults wear. He was gray haired and withered with age, his face dried like an apricot. He was in a hospital and I held his hand and he succumbed to slumber. That was what was supposed to happen but it was not what transpired – The only time I got to hold my father’s hand in a hospital was when he was already dead and gone, body cold and splotched with rigor-mortis. I wasn’t wearing glasses or a button up shirt or a pencil skirt. I was wearing a party dress, left overs from a celebration the day before that already seemed ages away, and my face was aglow with the youth I was losing, round with innocence that was perishing before I realized it was something to grab at, grasp tight with shaking fingers before it turned to dust, disintegrated. Now life is divided, “before” and “after”, “then” and “now”.

I busy myself with the strangest of things – I make things to feel a sense of accomplishment, I take up cross-stitching and paper-cutting, but these small moments of gladness are tinged with bittersweetness, reminders that I’ll never get to make a paper-cut for my dad and Laura on their anniversary because there are no anniversaries to had, no more birthdays or holidays, summer barbeques or weekends spent at my dad’s house on Lake St. Claire. There are no more texts to send, no more phone calls to make.

Time passes and it gets easier yet, at the same time, it gets harder – The less I cry, the more it hurts when I do cry. The more “good days” I have, the harder the “bad days” hit. I go out more and more infrequently and when I do leave, I feel like I’m the ghost, barely tangible and only half here and the people that can make me feel whole again are gone.

For the first time in my life, I cannot put my feelings into words.

It gets more and more frustrating every day, to be a writer staring slack-jawed at blank pages in notebooks, the white computer screen that signifies an empty Microsoft Word document. I barricade myself alone in my room with the sole intent of purging my mind of the emotions that it’s clamoring to communicate and my heart beats hard in my chest, as if my ventricles are making a vain attempt at breaking my ribs open if only to remind me that I am alive and I do have feelings and that these feelings must be documented, they must. So I sit. And I wait. And nothing happens.

People ask me how I am and I feel confused. I could think for hours about my emotions, examining them from various angles, with scientific skepticism and incredible attachment, and they would still be just as foreign to me then as they are at this moment. For the first time, the girl who felt everything feels nothing but a nonplussed resignation. I’m a spectator in my life, no longer experiencing anything for myself but rather living vicariously through the words of others, finding songs and books and poems that encapsulate what I think I should be feeling. It’s the next best thing to having a pulse, I decide.

Every day, I am happy. Or rather, I do things that should make me happy. I have good days, I have great days, and each one just leaves me once more plagiarizing the passion of others – I steal the sentiments of Tim Kasher when he can’t feel anything at all; I intone alongside Sad Brad Smith because no one will make me feel better for a long, long time; And when Frontier Ruckus’s Matt Milia yelps that he’s so lonesome he could drown and no one would kneel themselves down to fish him out, I sink inside because I literally couldn’t have said it better myself and the fact that I’m at such a loss causes me to tremble and ache, as raw as the burst blisters that have come to line my heels and toes after miles of aimless walking. I walk and I walk and I have no where to go, no where to be, and I think never in all my life have I seen eyes as empty as the streets of my city – Another stolen sentiment and my thievery leaves me ashamed of myself.

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If there’s one quality I’ve possessed my whole life, it’s optimism to the degree of naivety.

I lose my dream job as a career journalist in the big city and instead of getting sad, I keep writing, with even more fervor than before. I get my heart broken, callous and careless, by a masquerading boy I was convinced was the proverbial man of my dreams and I don’t feel angry or hurt. Instead, I pour all of my heart in to re-winning him over  because if he felt something for me once, maybe he could feel it again. I lose my virginity in a rape, I get an abortion, I spend twelve years languishing in eating disorder hell, in and out of therapists offices.  I lose friends and move around the country and I get mean songs written about me by boys that don’t know how to tell the whole truth of a story and I never feel upset because I know there’s something better. There’s always something better.

Today, however, I realized I was wrong.

I didn’t dream about my dad last night, for the first time since he died. Instead, I dreamt about a boy that I’ve resolved to never talk to again. I dreamt I yelled at him, told him every sick, sad, unstable thought that’s plagued my mind for the past month and I dreamt that I told him truths I’ve been hiding from everyone: That the reappearance of my OCD is more troubling than I let on, that the real reason for my drastic drop in weight and puffy face is not from depression but rather because I’ve relapsed back into bulimia. I dreamt that I cried and he held me and he told me that he wanted to make things better. I told him that he could, he could make everything so much infinitely easier for me and he wouldn’t and I didn’t understand why. And I dreamt that he was sorry and that he still cared.

Then, of course, I woke up to the knowledge that I was just as alone as I’ve been, if not more so.

And that’s when I realized that I’ve changed. The day my dad died, that naieve optimism inside of me that has made me so passionate for so many years is gone and I can’t tell if it’s a candle that’s been snuffed out but can one day be relit or if it’s burned it’s wick away I’m now fated to live with my sadness. Things will not get better for a very long time, if they ever do, and I know that. There are some events in peoples lives that change them irreparably. And my dad’s death, I think, was one of those events for me.

It’s been one month as of yesterday. Everyone tells me I won’t start to feel even a little better for at least another eleven. The fact that, for the first time in my life, I can’t fix things in a matter I deem timely is most troubling for me and the loneliness I feel at all turns is crushing. I sit in front of my computer and I want to write great American novels but all I can do is stare at rough drafts and outlines.  I go out and sit in the corner, disassociated from the party as all of my friends have a good time and I tell myself “This is not my life.”

The truth, however, is that this is my life.

And today, I accepted that.

The only ways I know how to feel anymore are as follows: Angry or Nothing At All.

Angry is easier to deal with than anything else. Much like everyone has told my stepmom, they’ve all repeated the tome to me as well: It’ll get easier. You’ll get on with your life. It’ll be okay. It’ll just take time. Worst of all, however, and most perturbing is when I’m told I understand. I hear those words, see them on my computer screen and I close my eyes, let them roll upwards in my head as I breath deep and steady. Count… One, two, three, four, five. Don’t yell, Amber. Don’t say what you want to say. Never say what you want to say again. The truth of it is that my words can’t be trusted. The truth of it is that the ever present “they”, with their insistence words and sad eyes, don’t understand. “They” can’t relate. And to hear that they feel they can is infuriating. You relate to my grief? Well, I can’t help but notice you live a fairly well adjusted life in which you have living parents and siblings and the only reason you “relate” to my words is because of your sick sense of self entitled sadness and depression. What have you to be sad over? I wonder and then I hate myself for belittling the ache of others, as if my pain is better than theirs in some non-existent contest of self importance.

It’s interesting, though, for all these people who claim to understand, the one person who actually understands, who did lose her dad, has not used those words. In fact, she’s gone out of her way to tell me she probably doesn’t understand but at least she’s been through it herself.

Nothing At All is harder. The biggest accomplishments I manage on the average day is to get out of bed and put on leggings, only to lay back down again, as if pulling black fabric over my thighs took too much out of me. My face is puffy and red and I stare. I stare at my computer screen, I stare at my phone, I stare at my wall, and I wonder if this chasm inside of me will ever fill.

It’s funny – I used to think I was empty inside, that I was to dysfunctional to feel properly. Now I realize that that girl had more love and light to give the world than anyone I’ve ever met. The fact that she was convinced she didn’t is the saddest truth I encounter.

I figured, when all this started, that I’d be overcome with guilt and regret but I really only have one regret in all of this and it’s that I never dated. Part of that is because I wish I had someone constant here that I could fuck because at least then I’d be feeling something but for the most of it, I just wish that I had fallen in love before my dad died. I wish that I had been able to bring someone over to his house for dinner to receive unspoken approval that for once in my increasingly longer life I wasn’t fucking something up. I wish I’d been able to talk to my dad after a fight with my significant other just to hear him tell me that I’d better fix it because he didn’t want to hear me complain about this. I wish I’d fallen in love and gotten engaged and I wish I’d gotten to see how this guy had interacted with my dad, how he’d reacted to my dad’s perverse and brash sense of humor. I wish I’d had to argue with my dad over the fact that I was going to get married in a barn in Iowa and I wish he’d made the trip out anyhow, to see me start a new life, barefoot in a thrift store prom dress. I wish he’d seen that and I wish that I still believed that all of those daydreams would come to fruition.  Now, however, I get to be alone and that crushing realization is the worst thing I could feel.

All I want out of life is for someone to hold me and let me cry and assure me that they can help.

But no one can.

And it’s not that no one wants to help. It’s just that no one knows how.

The nights are just as bad as they’ve been but the days get worse as the weeks, weary, wear on – The only person I can talk to with any sense of realism and honesty lives across the country and all I want is to go to her because with her, I don’t need the pills and drugs that I do when I’m around other people. She promises me that things will get better but it will take time, which, coincidentally, is the one thing I no longer have. I need things to be better and I need them to be better now because every moment that they’re not, I only feel more and more overwhelmed.

I used to feel awake and alive and passionate and I fake it most days and I fake it well. Sometimes, I think that people can’t even tell what happened and I wonder if they think it’s a sign that I’m myself again.  What a charade I’ve pulled, wool over wide eyes to blind them all from the truth: The girl they used to know doesn’t exist anymore.

I meet new people, new friends and new boys and they’re beautiful and they’re happy and they’re alive and I wonder if they could be important to me before I remember that they can’t be. Because I won’t let them.

I’m ashamed of who I am and every person I know is just another to add to the list of growing people that I have to keep it together around. And if I can’t keep it together? Well, that means I’ve failed and I can’t fail at anything else, not right now.

I pick up the phone and I call him and tell him I can’t see him again, that we can’t be friends. It’s harder than I let on to say the words because he was the last testament of normalcy to me, the last person introduced into my social circle in the “before” of my “before and after” life. And it’s strange because I think if things had been different, he could have been a big deal for me, an even bigger deal than he was. I talk about my uncertainty the night before and my friend tells me not to do anything dumb, advice I quickly cast aside when the onslaught of emotions becomes too much for me to process as I realize I’ve been cast once more in the sexless, loveless, careless role of “female friend number three”, an nameless extra in my own life, once more in the “friend zone” that destroyed my heart so savagely for twelve months last year. He says he’s glad we’re friends and I remember Jake’s words, imploring me to not be rash, and I bite my tongue, I leave and walk home and the streets are empty, all remnants of St. Patrick’s Day drunken revelry swept away and I realize I should have been honest, I should have just said it then. He might be glad we’re friends but I’m not. Not under these circumstances.

And I realize the old patterns I could so easily fall back into right now – The girl I was last summer, drinking too much in minidresses and perfectly applied makeup, a black widow bringing boys home just to rob them from the life they emanate to make herself feel better for a few minutes. It never worked. Not once. So instead, I cut myself off and I hide inside my room and I write about how things should be, so different from how they are, and in my fictional account of the past month, I have friends and I’m still crushed but I feel love.

But now I can’t feel anything at all.

I never used to remember my dreams. Up until this summer, in fact, the only dream I ever remembered having was a recurring nightmare I had as a kid about being eaten alive by a koala.  Every day lately, however, I wake up with a vision so vivid that I keep my eyes closed for hours until I drift off again to a better time and place.

Every night, I’m at my dad’s apartment in the suburbs of Detroit. He’s alive, sitting on his couch watching The Simpsons. I’m in the kitchen and I’m cooking and we don’t say much of anything – Just as it was when I returned to Michigan one year ago this time to spend my days as his post-college layabout daughter-slash-roommate. He’s frustrated with me about something dumb I’ve done, some way I’ve let him down and I’m rolling my eyes in exasperation. It’s nothing profound or special but every night, things were just the way they used to be and he’s alive.

I wake up and I shake for hours and I can’t get out of bed until I have to leave – To take Devon to gymnastics at 5 p.m., to have a meeting with one of the bands I manage at 10, to go to the movie set in the mornings to brush shoulders with George Clooney in the most surreal days I’ve ever lived during which I get to be someone else, a nameless journalist covering a fictional presidential race with a fervor and passion that I used to possess in real life, a fervor and passion that has been robbed from me this winter.  I sit at home in a rocking chair and I listen to the same cd on repeat and I cry until I’ve leaked all fluids from my body and I remember how good things were until that day that I got that phone call and I write when I’m composed enough and I feel better but it’s all a reminder of how things have changed, how there is no “normal” anymore, not for me, not for Laura, not for Sara or Delores or Al. We’re all living in an emotional nuclear fallout and it’s more evident every day how little compassion strangers have, with their loveless stares and snide comments. I fear opening my mouth anymore, terrified that I’ll alienate the few people I do have because I’m convinced that if I can’t keep it together, my friends won’t want me around anymore. And I can’t blame them.

I’m driving on State Street, coming home to take Adrian to the library at 6:45 and the radio is playing Arcade Fire and I remember how my dad used to send me text messages almost every day, quoting one of his favorite indie rock songs. The day he died, he sent me a lyric from “The Suburbs” and it plays and I pull the car into a parking lot and I listen and I sob into my hands and I think of how ominous it all seems now:

So can you understand why I want a daughter while I’m still young?
I wanna hold her hand and show her some beauty before this damage is done.

I haven’t seen you for years but I know you better now than I ever did growing up. Older than my dad by two years, a bitterness grew inside of you, a resentment that spread like ivy around the recesses of your mind until you were left a shell of anything you might have ever been and what have you now? Nothing. Not even a slight comprehension of what my family is going through.

You were grown when your father succumbed to a death we all knew was coming from the cancer that ate away at his spine and brain so you can’t understand what it’s like to be left behind so young and ill prepared, like I have been. You never had children so you can’t fathom the protective nature instilled inside my dad at my birth to never let me encounter the bad stuff. But you – His brother – are the enemy here and I don’t understand how someone could be so abhorrent. It wasn’t enough that you had to run to hide behind a lawyer to disavow your mother’s wishes like an insolent child desperately grasping for some sick sense of  control, nor was it enough to scream and cry until your face turned red and purple like a beet, a ripe red pear let loose from it’s branch when it’s own juices were too much to bear so once again, you threatened my dad with a lawsuit over bullshit that could have been solved by simple, civilized conversation. But civility… You’ve none of that, have you? It’s all been made evident by the fact that you barely waited until my dad’s body was cold to grasp at all that was vanishing from our tangible fists as the rocks we once held so tight turned to sand and slipped away from our seemingly careless grips. So you take and you take and you take. Just as you took from my dead father, you now take from his widow, married to him all of six weeks.

How do you sleep at night?

Where is your moral fiber?

Where is your sense of right and wrong?

For all the praying you do to your beloved god, you sure must leave him ashamed, just as I am ashamed to know we share blood, share a last name. But that name? It doesn’t mean shit. You aren’t my family. That blood, that name, it means nothing to me. My stepmom, stepsister, and stepgrandmother have been in my life all of two years and they are more of a family to me than you ever have been or ever will be again.

I am beside myself when I hear what you’ve done and now, there’s hate inside of me and it has taken root in my heart like a cancer that eats away at everything good I have left. I can’t talk to anyone for fear of screaming. I can’t look at anyone for fear of sobbing. I vomit from rage, as if the bile that coats my throat and teeth will expel some of the hate you’ve settled, sewn like a sick seed, a demented poisonous plant that grows and grows and grows with no signs of arrest.

I hope you’re happy, you son of a bitch. It wasn’t enough to bury your youngest brother. Now you have to embroider your fibers of misery into all we have left? The only comfort I have is the knowledge that you will die alone, miserable, hated, and pathetic. Or have you died already?