It was an early Monday morning, about 12:30 AM, I was driving home from work and I caught perhaps the last ten minutes of WPHT’s Walter M. Sterling interviewing a woman who is an artist and had taught about lucid painting – imagining it and will be so type of thought process I imagine. The interview ended and after a news brief and a commercial or two to satisfy sponsor obligations, Mister Sterling came back and began discussing briefly about time travel. It was humorous to me that people always want to go forward in time and as the radio host pointed out he did not want to relive prior mistakes he made in life. Walter made some allusions to when he was a boy being fascinated watching George Pal’s The Time Machine, based on the Victorian novel by Herbert George (H.G. to his reading public) Wells. Then he made the mistake of inviting callers to phone in and tell him about possible destinations.
I had to call.
I did call.
The assistant answered and after a brief on-hold period as Mister Sterling talked about the Eloi being the cattle or game stock for the Morlocks. The time traveler soon discovers that humanity had split into two separate races: the peaceful Eloi and the living underground troll like evil Morlocks. Somewhere he was also talking about Honey Boo-Boo’s mother, Mama June, dropping 350 pounds to becoming a size 4. Was she eating Eloi? Stranger things have happened. But to answer Mister Sterling’s question, I knew where I wanted to go. I knew when I wanted to go. I knew what I wanted to do.
Where: Ryan Drive (North) and Academy Road.
When: May 17, 2011, ten to twenty minutes before Tim died.
What I would do: I want to go back meet Tim at the door as he was getting out of school. I want to keep him with me until it was after the time he died. I wanted to get the driver’s car keys or disable her car somehow so she would be taking out of the domino effect.
Paradoxes be damned!
Mister Sterling asked me something that I had never been asked before. “What have you done since your son died?”
I told him of Barry Kluger and Kelly Farley and spreading the word of the Farley-Kluger initiative and what it is about concerning protecting the jobs of grieving parents so they have time to grieve, get affairs in order, and most importantly care for themselves again. Helping other grieving parents as I come across them find their first footing by recommending Compassionate Friends or counseling – point them to developing hobbies such as arts and crafts, writing, painting, or any release mechanism that is positive. I told him of the great support from the school kids, their parents, the community, and many other people.
He asked “What do you do when you get home at night and everyone is asleep?” I told him honestly, I sit in front of the television and try not to think.
|from the motion picture The Wall|
The first image that came to my mind was Bob Geldof, as Pink, in the movie The Wall. Pink’s world is falling down all around him. He learns that his wife is cheating on him when another man answer the phone – then again perhaps he is just paranoid she is and never realizes he dialed the wrong number.
"Yes, a collect call for Mrs. Floyd from Mr. Floyd. Will you accept the charges from United States?"
|from motion picture The Wall|
Paradoxes be damned.
Suppose I had some means of traveling back. The device could be anything – a penny, a gull-winged sports car from a defunct automobile manufacturer, a portal, a go-cart with a crushed velvet seating and a roulette wheel with blinking lights, a man of steel flying counter to the planet’s spin, laying on a stretcher while the cast of Monty Python click a large flash light off and on behind me over and over or a 1970’s telephone booth … anything that science fiction or comic books can muster. I go back and I keep my son from being killed.
|12 Monkeys 1995|
What would change?
Per popular belief, the current time line would change or be deleted. It may just split creating a separate and new time line. However, because I came from the future I would be immune to the change but the past (the previous timeline) version of me would be deleted or would go on – it all depends on your school of thought. If deleted, I would have aged X number of years in a split second to everyone else. My son may have gone on to college and by rights we all have a happy ever after. If not deleted, the past version of myself must never know of me or he/I may ask questions that can further disrupt the time line.
Another paradoxical construct, would be that Nature abhors a vacuum. So, I go back, save my son – only to see him die another way because he was pre-destined or fated. My saving him created a blank spot because the future that was written is now erased and must be corrected or worse could happen. Let’s say his sister, Alaina, does not go on to create a comic book in his honor that will inspire another person in a daisy chain of events leading to something vastly wonderful. It seems silly but this is an idea of a paradox – writing (but wanting) an alternative reality that does not exist or exists on a different Earth but at a different harmonic or dimension.
To quote Jim Morrison: “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near.”
Yes, I know. Too much X-Men, Star Trek, Time Cop…Excellent! To the TARDIS!
But try to understand – in one way or another, a grieving parent thinks something somewhere on those lines.
There were nights I stayed awake beating myself up asking those same questions. The answers were worse. The guilt over parenting decisions that weren’t coordinated with my wife’s co-parenting. Guilt over actions done that can’t be undone – unless I could find that one firebreak or something that is a fork-in-the-road to split what have been.
If I hadn’t done “this” a few weeks before, maybe that would have saved him.
If I had done “that” then “this” wouldn’t have occurred.
It’s like setting up dominoes and to equate tipping them over to a timeline of pre-grieving, the incident, post incident, and aftermath. But I neglected to place a firebreak into the set up or have it too far behind or too far ahead thus the catastrophe happens prematurely or firebreak happens too late to have stopped the pattern. Stop now if you know about the Domino Effect.
|Dilton Doiley (Archie Comics)|
So, for Mister Sterling who asked the questions. Thank you. I still hurt. I’m still angry. But I refuse to allow my grief dictate to me how my life is going. I manage. I found my humor again. Apparently, you brought out some it as evidenced by this essay.
A friend, Mickey “The Handyman” Hirsch, also a grieving dad, told me smiles will come back. He told me I will never get over my son’s death – I’ll get through it. So, what do I do? I pay it forward just as he had and most likely learned from another grieving parent.
Grief, like it’s bastard emotion cousin Jealousy, is a powerful emotion that must be tempered and reigned. It can cloud judgement that can bring on unwanted outcomes for difficult decisions made in haste, anger, or a point of weakness. Some memorial companies will want to sell a small Taj Mahal to a grieving parent. An insurance company may want a release signed which will indemnify them from paying a claim. The list goes on to include human vultures who come out only for their own gains – and sadly, but not in my case, want for themselves.
As I come across a new member to this “club”, I help the new grieving parent stand up on his or her own two feet. I walk briefly with this person on their path only because it intersected mine. I don’t out right abandon them as human wreckage but I try to get them to places or persons that will be better suited to help. Aside from Tim’s mother, my wife, there are only a few I walk with on a continuous basis – because we were family long ago before marriage, children, and other relationships.
I will have my good days. I will have my bad days. I will have days I don’t want to get out of bed and I will have nights I don’t want to go to bed. Even when I put the television on to escape reality – it’s still there. I don’t really escape. I will just sit there like Pink watching television, but in the back of my mind I’m remembering the past, worrying about the present, and planning for a future. I try to make the reality like Schrödinger’s cat – it’s there but not there until I open my eyes and observe. (Shut it Sheldon! I know the cat is in a box and according to quantum mechanics is alive and dead at the same time. I’ll gift-wrap it for you.)
I am guessing by now you think I lost it. Get him to a doctor and teach him the Thorazine shuffle. Seriously, I’m fine. I haven’t written in a while about my journey as I grieve my loss and most importantly my Tim. I can’t take the tears falling all the time as I wrote about the things he and I had done or what I wish we had done based on plans we made. There’s only so many times one can listen to Fire and Rain or Who’d You be Today.
And I can feel one of my turns coming on
I feel cold as a razor blade
Tight as a tourniquet
Dry as a funeral drum