In the end all we have are ourselves. On Memorial Day my wife and I used to honor her father who was a paratrooper in the Philippines in World War II. We raised our glasses and drank to the man who jumped out of planes and helped save the world.
Now he is dead and my wife is dead. Alone in my bungalow on this Memorial Day I raised my glass and drank to them both. Two heroes in my life.
Outside, I hear the fireworks celebrating the sacrifices made in all wars in the name of freedom. I hope the dead are not alone. It would be wonderful to think they are in a place, a holy place, awaiting our arrival. On a personal level, I would give anything to be reunited with my brothers and my son and my wife. Time to catch up. What stories to tell. What joy.
The cynic in me says, Tough luck, it’s never gonna happen. The stoned drunk in me says,Don’t be too sure, you don’t have the first clue about what’s possible with the indestructible atoms of the human mind and the unknown state of wave-being.
In the meantime we are alone, all we have are ourselves and if that’s not enough, God help us, and if there is no God, then we might as well blow our brains out.
Sometimes I miss so many people it would take a galleon of angels to bring them back.
Since that’s never going to happen I find myself thinking of ways to go to them. Not in any real sense of course but I have found from experience that if one becomes sufficiently imbued (as in high as a kite) there is little if any difference between the real, the surreal and the unreal.
Several months ago a former colleague of my wife from our Miami Beach days called me out of the blue when she heard my wife had died and told me that what my godless lost soul needed was God. This old friend has an unshakable belief in God and offered to be my spiritual guide, so to speak, and take my hand on the “road to God.”
It sounded like a good idea. In the long span of my life I have never been this alone. Death has taken my wife and my son and two brothers. A few remaining relatives are scattered far and abroad and contact is infrequent. The few friends I had disappeared one by one.
Open mind, closed heart
So with an open mind I set out toward the road to God.
As the quest proceeded, I realized that although my mind was open to “believing,” my heart was not and I knew I could only find God through my heart not just in my mind. The discovery had to be heart-felt, not just cerebral.
But even while sparks of positive energy were being triggered in my brain, my heart was not responding. I didn’t know why and I didn’t know how to remove the roadblock. Nor did my godly guide. She became discouraged.
“I can’t help you anymore,” she said. This surprised me. I expected more of a Jesus-type commitment to my cause. In any case my quest ended on a dark cul-de-sac to nowhere.
Not enough Xanax in America
So here I be in my lowly dark bungalow, just me and the cat, reading a lot, drinking too much, watching movies on television, sleeping late and writing stuff like this.
Sometimes I write about society’s ills but when the stories involve the lies and hypocrisy of politicians it becomes so sickening there’s not enough Xanax in America to numb my revulsion.
So I’m back at the old pop stand writing 500-word memoirs, mostly about people I’ve lost and most of all about my wife. The memories, both great and grisly, the joy and the regrets, unresolved matters that I still need to talk to her about, that is to say, with her invisible presence.
And so in that sense I’m not alone, and as long as I have some brain cells still functioning the memories will grow like wildflowers.
In my haphazard search for “God” — whatever that word means, I prefer the word Creator but that’s a topic for another time — I have found that people who have found God do not need anyone else.
This is especially helpful to people who have lost everyone they ever loved. For them, God is a great source of comfort and companionship on this lonely planet.
I went to the house of an old man whose whole family have died and I asked him, How to do stand living here alone?
I’m not alone, he said, I have God.
I envied him. I could use some of what he’s got. I am doubly isolated, first by the loss of loved ones and then by Covid. I could have asked the old man how he found God and all the rest of it but his way would not be my way, and if there is a secret to it or a shortcut, I’m not interested.
Seeking God is a personal and individual quest. That’s why I would never “find God” at a church service or at an evangelical gathering, for then I would feel like a mindless sheep, caught up in an emotional fervor, following the herd, and it wouldn’t be something I deeply felt — and knew — in my heart.
So I stumble along, feeling my way, a blind man in a thick forest, not expecting to “see” God or hear God or trip over God, for I do not believe God has any corporeal substance. He’s not a manfor godsake. He doesn’t have a body and he doesn’t have a walking stick.
But if I make it out of the woods without being jabbed by deadly thorns or bitten by a snake, I will feel someone — or something — helped me through. Maybe.