Tell my Son I love him.
The end is so grim; a late summer, afternoon rain invokes sadness and revelation; it is time to quit fighting. My words are yoked to the hollowed-out promises, the dismal experiments that left me bereaved, stretched out in the wee hours, smoking forgotten cigarette butts, wandering the rooms of a previous life. It is over. Nothing will be the same again. The summer of happiness never came, three years on; I am resigned to this tragic fate, a foul Cressida, a broken home, laughter scattered and an insecure expression on the innocent face of my son. He knows the clouds, the hard rains; he worries after me, hand on my shoulder. My pain is on his face. My fear and failure is rooted inside him. I hug him tightly, whisper in his ear, “everything will be alright.” He clutches me. I have to go, but I will shine like the sun. All the good in my world is hung on his smile. I leave wearily. One day everything will make sense, maybe one day we will both understand.
[Jasper Kerkau is writer/editor/co-founder of Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and Sudden Denouement Publishing.]
My father had a heart attack on a treadmill. He retired two weeks earlier. He lived to work. I lived a life of leisure waiting tables and drinking. I pulled up to the house I shared with friends and my sister was in my front yard crying. She didn’t have to say anything. For a week we sat at the hospital, each in a different state of denial. I felt his finger move that time. I was too old to be waiting tables without a wife or a home of my own. My life was a failure. Deep shame. I would talk to his co-workers or relatives and see the look in their faces as I told them what I did—or rather, what I didn’t do. Eventually it hit me. The shame and anguish of my life burst open as I realized that my father was already dead–he was a shell being kept alive by a machine. Shortly thereafter he was pronounced dead. My mother, sister, and I ate at a cafeteria and had an upbeat conversation and laughed. It wasn’t funny but that is what people do sometimes in the face of tragedy—they laugh. Life wasn’t funny for a long time after that. But, like anything, it eventually got better. I don’t think about it now, his ashen face, his blue lips—the nothingness. Only periodically, when I work too much, does it come to my mind, I think about being sprawled out on the floor of a gym with strangers standing over me pumping my chest wildly, breathing in my mouth. Feeling the life slowly move out of my body. Sometimes the irony of life is perplexing.
Jasper Kerkau (8-19-16)