Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Never Visit A Cemetery With A Grudge In Your Heart.

Look this post *might* come across as if it were written by some kind of crazed, out-of-control fucked up woman. 

That's because it is! 

Let's press on regardless. Gene Wilder said we need to go back to go forward so if you come into the following words with me, you're going to need a torch, some deep breaths, and a mouthguard because I'm pulling no punches. It's ok. I've already lived it then written it - I'm waiting for you at the end.


On Sunday morning I got up and made breakfast, chatted to the boys about what to do that day, started writing a shopping list, the house needed a vacuum, all normal boring family shit. Dave was talking and I looked up at him and said,

"I cannot do this."

And he said, "Well that's ok then hon we can pick Max up first THEN see the movie, do the shop afterwards?"

And I told him no, I can't pretend. I cannot play happy families today. I cannot do this. I cannot do this. I walked into the bedroom to get dressed and decided right there on the spot, whatever the fuck I needed to do that day then I was just going to do it. Dave blasted my favourite song in the living room -  the room where we all do our living because we're living and not dead. Future Islands "Waiting On You." I love that song, I love the way the guy feels his shit. I want to perform my creativity the way this guy performs his creativity. I walk into the kitchen and me and Dave had a bit of a dance-off to see who could dance most like the Future Islands guy, then I told Dave where I was going that day.

Needle-scratch. "You're what?"

"I'm driving down to Picton to visit my dads grave. Well, Cams dads grave. My real dads grave is in Cooma but I have nothing to say to him. I have plenty to say to Cams dad. Hon, I gotta let some shit go."

(Aside for anybody who might be reading my blog for the first time right very now: my real dad was a violent alcoholic who died from alcoholism. My stepdad of eleven years killed himself in 1988, his son was my brother Cameron who killed himself last October. I miss my brother. I miss my brother.)

I looked at Dave and he looked at me and I held his face.

"I know it's weird but I just need to do this right now. It's all I want to do today. It will relieve some of the pressure and don't worry, I won't do anything stupid I'll be back in time to make green chicken curry and watch the room reveals on The Block."

I'm a grown woman. My husband kissed me goodbye with trust. I drove off in my car for a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive down to visit my second dead dad. (There are three in total. Fuck all the Fathers Day paraphernalia in all the land, is what I'm saying.)

IT FELT SO GOOD TO DRIVE OFF THE MOUNTAIN. I took a piece of paper and an HB pencil to do an etching of his cremation inscription thingy. I blasted some Macklemore but mostly Eminem. It's always Eminem, lately, channeling the fury. It takes an hour and forty minutes to drive from my house to Picton cemetery and I get there and when I parked the car I sat there deciding whether to piss on his grave or not. No. It would be disrespectful to the other dead people in the cemetery so I refrained.

I have only ever visited his grave once, in the early nineties. My boyfriend at the time drove me in his shitty red Mazda. He was the manager of the Red Cow Hotel Penrith, I was the barmaid. During our breaks we'd run upstairs to his hovel of a room, chainsmoke cigarettes and play Sonic the Hedgehog on his Sega. True fucken love, people.

So I see the cremation people in the cemetery in their mini-building and think, there he is. And walk over to see him. I kept checking to make sure that nobody was around because I was about to yell really loudly. I didn't even have anything planned to say. I was ready except .... he wasn't there. I looked and looked and looked. He wasn't there.

No seat for you!

The rain was PISSING down. I crossed the street to look in the other part of the cemetery but it was just all old abandoned graves. RIGHT next to a childcare centre.

And I'm looking and I'm looking and I start getting the shits. You know those days you're looking for a dead man to yell at and you can't find him and you feel him laughing at you? DON'T HIDE FROM ME YOU FUCK. In desperation I turned to Rocco's girlfriend, Siri.

"Siri, how many fucking cemeteries are there in Picton?"

She told me she was sorry but she couldn't process my request right now. So I tried to google it but there was no reception in the cemetery because dead people don't use phones, dumbnuts. Then I FELL OVER and the piece of paper that I brought with me to etch his headstone got wet and I looked around at all the graves and thought how fucked we're all going to be when the zombie apocalypse came. There are a LOT of dead people just right there in the ground, you guys. And frankly, nobody gives a shit about them anymore I mean come on what is this.

There's not even a headstone on there. Just a forlorn empty can of Jim Beam and cola. Somebody needs to do something about this disarray.

And then I literally found Jesus.

And I was like, "Jesus, Jesus - why so serious? YOU GET TO BE DEAD. It's us living people who feel all the pain now, dude."

Then I fell over again probably because I took a photo of Jesus just to mock him and it was like the scene in Poltergeist at the end when the rain is filling up the empty swimming pool and the corpses suddenly appear because they removed the headstones BUT LEFT THE BODIES IN THERE!! GO TO THE LIGHT CAROL-ANNE!

In cemeteries, the place where the recently dead people are buried? Most colourful. All the beautiful flowers and new dirt. Fresh meat. New grief. I read some headstones, some beautiful inscriptions, but none applicable to me. Just like the Fathers Day card setup in the post office - never applicable to me. It's cool - I can handle dead dads, I can handle trauma, addiction, cancer, recovery. I can handle a fuckload of stuff. But the death of my brother, I cannot handle.

Finally I worked out I was at the wrong cemetery so got in my car to drive across town to the other cemetery and I'm going to try keep this short but you guys? He wasn't in the other cemetery either.

And I KNEW this was the right one because I remembered it from those years ago, it's across the road from the pub. I walked around and around the fucking gravestones, nada. It was like my dead dad #2 was scared of me. By the way he wasn't the greatest man that ever lived. He didn't really give a shit about anybody except himself, became a millionaire overnight under suspicious circumstances and filled our mansion with crates of Dom Perignon, a billiard room, Lladro, red velvet lounges. Bought a Rolls Royce, racehorses, diamonds, Mercedes, a Model-T Ford. Had an office in Bankstown. He was a pretentious, rude, arrogant wanker who treated waiters like shit. An acquaintance once described him as having "the personality of a hat rack."

However, my dead dad #2 was Camerons father. And he loved Cam. He didn't love me - treated me with disdain, indifference, and contempt. He used to tell me to fuck off a lot. Exact words: "Get out of my sight." With a wave of his pompous hand. One day I was watching TV and he said,

"Eden, was your father a glassmaker?"

And I flushed. My real father was a glassmaker? I thought my real father was a computer genius who worked for IBM? I was about to learn a bit about my real father? OMG! Nobody ever talked to me about my real dad I couldn't believe it, finally! But dead dad #2 didn't mean that, it was just his way of saying move out of the way I was blocking the television. Get it? A glassmaker because glass was invisible? I'm thinking my real father WAS a glassmaker because when I was a kid growing up I was very, very invisible in my house. To everybody. Except Cam.

So on Sunday I was all confused because I couldn't find the gravestone I wanted to yell at, and my head was all, this is what happens when you bring a grudge into a cemetery, Eden. I even knocked on the church door but nobody was there. It was SUNDAY. This is a spiritual emergency! Churches are BULLSHIT.

So as I walked across the bridge towards Picton Information Centre three cars drive past me and spray water ALL over me. I was absolutely fucking drenched, thinking, is this day actually really happening? Is this my actual life? The wind blew my umbrella inside-out. I saw a sign at the mechanics for shock absorbers and I thought I could use a few of those.

My therapist says that my grief over my brothers suicide is widening and deepening because it has triggered and roughed up every other single thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I loved Cameron for thirty-three years straight. I understood when he couldn't love me or my boys back because how could he when he didn't even love himself? He didn't really give a fuck about my kids or my family. He wasn't perfect - he had quite a bit of his dads arrogance to be honest but he was a beautiful guy also funny and witty and I just fucking loved him and when he died, where did the love go? Like a car accident when the car suddenly stops but you keep hurtling forwards smashing your body into pieces all over the place. Ever since Cam died I'm covered in pieces of his flesh and his bright red blood and I can't wash it off I'm Lady Macbeth I colluded because I agreed with him that the world was too hard. He begged me to understand. So I thought I could wash a bit of his blood off in Picton.

Alan from Picton Information Centre didn't bat an eyelid that I was dripping wet I think he was just grateful for a visitor. He assumed I was a woman innocently visiting her dead fathers grave, wishing to pay her respects. He showed me maps, told me the history of the churches of the surrounding towns and it took everything in me not to say, "Alan dude? I appreciate your shop being open for me on a Sunday because fuck knows that church isn't. But this dead dad isn't even my real dead dad. Even my real dead dad isn't my real dead dad. I'm angry, cold, and hungry. It's complicated. Can you help a bitch out or not?"

We both agreed that St Marks had moved the cremation mini-building somewhere else we just didn't know here. I backed out, thanking him. Passed Picton barber shop where apparently you can get a lap dance AND a haircut.

Fuck this world.

Here's a thought - maybe some people don't kill themselves because of mental illness, they kill themselves because the world is bullshit. Dead dad #2 killed himself because he was about to be arrested and sent to jail. Also he lost all his precious money. My brother was eight years old when his father died and he was never the same again.

My dead dad #2's brother Ian tried to kill himself once, by slashing his wrists. He slept in our library for weeks. I used to creep in there and marvel at the bloody bandages. He ended up dying of something else, can't remember. It was pretty sad. Uncle Ian liked me, even looked me in the eyes and treated me like an actual person.

So I left Picton - frustrated, fucked off, soaking wet. Thought I may as well go visit my grandmothers old house, see her garden. She made the most BEAUTIFUL gardens, wherever she lived. She told me once when she was pruning roses why you had to cut them back. It seemed ruthless, but my whole life I've never forgotten to chop myself back when I need to, to get rid of the parts of myself that are not needed, in order to keep growing, keep going.

I drove past her old house and the garden was dead. There were four souped-up cars and utes in the driveway.

Fuck this world.

For this day to mean anything, I was left with only one option.

For the first time in my life, I had to visit the place dead dad #2 committed suicide. You know what's fucking hilarious? He did it at Oran Park WHICH DOESN'T EXIST ANYMORE BECAUSE THEY TORE IT DOWN.

But I drove there anyway yes I did and by this stage I was mental. Seething. Saturated. Sad. Worn down. I drove past the house we lived in at Pindari Avenue Camden when we found out he'd killed himself. It looks forlorn and unkempt too.

I parked my car at the new Oran Park housing project. I climbed the barbed wire fence. I was wearing a thick grey hoodie, new jeans, and my black and gold Nike hi-tops. So this was the place, I thought.

My brother Cameron drove here when he was about 23, with the intention of killing himself in the same spot his father did. Had a plastic pipe and everything. What made him NOT do it that night? I do not know. What made him drive off into the night and keep living? What made him finally do it in October last year? Hundreds of answers to those questions.

It was deserted and the sky was trying to tell me something. Fuck off sky, I don't believe in you anymore. I looked around at the trees, the landscape, the hills. The last place dead dad #2 took his final carbon-monoxide breaths. I had a few things to tell him, where was a good place? Up this dead-end street seemed a good a place as any. So I walked up it. And I started talking. Shouting.

I can't remember exact words. But every word was passionate and furious and sorely needed to be said. Every single word needed to come out of my mouth.

"Oh hi, just in case your spirit has been sitting in a tree over there for the past 26 years, I just wanted to tell you that your son is dead. And you fucking killed him, I didn't. I tried EVERYTHING I could to keep him alive. Everything. You never got to see what a beautiful man he grew into and fuck you so hard. And your gravestone isn't even there anymore and I don't care."

I kept spitting. I'm not usually a spitter but I had so much spit to spit so I spat, and spat. Contemptously.

"And he even drove here once to kill himself just like you did but he DIDN'T. He kept trying and fighting to live. He tried really hard but now he is DEAD. YOUR SON IS DEAD just in case you were fucking wondering. And I CANNOT CARRY this guilt and pain and shame around so here, I'm giving this to you. THIS DOES NOT BELONG TO ME. AND FUCK YOU. You were a SHIT dad and a SHIT stepdad. And I fucking HATE you for treating me like shit and letting other people around me treat me like shit. I did not deserve that. You were a fat fuck. And Cam loved me the most HE LOVED ME. So, he's dead and you broke his heart when you left and I hope he doesn't visit you in the afterlife because FUCK YOU. GOODBYE. FUCK YOU. YOU MOTHERFUCKING ARSEHOLE."

Spat my way down the street. I have never in my life felt as purged as I did, and I still wasn't finished. It was like I was in a magical nether place where he could hear me and as soon as I hopped back over the barbed wire fence I was back to the real world again - the hard world that you keep living in regardless.

I spun around. "Oh and by the way, not that you give a shit, I ended up having two sons. AND I LOVE THEM. AND I SHOW THEM THAT I LOVE THEM. And I have stepchildren too who I really, really care about and love also. LOVE. NONE OF IT THANKS TO YOU YOUR SON IS DEAD AND THIS IS NOT MY FAULT FUCK YOU MY LIFE IS HARD BUT I'M STILL HERE I AM STRONGER THAN YOU WILL EVER BE."

Jumped the fence, broke the spell, took my shoes off to discover I was wearing rainbow socks that looked EXACTLY like Mork from Orks suspenders, which was so fitting. The death of Robin Williams has greatly affected me. I feel jealous of his kids, because his legacy was amazing and beautiful and they knew they were loved. Robin Williams showed me that kind and gentle and caring men exist. Dead Poets Society got me through some tough times. One of my favourite films of all time is What Dreams May Come. Some very heavy discussions taking place on social media about suicide. People are disagreeing, people are talking, good. GOOD. FINALLY.

I drove home. Felt different. Lighter. Got out of the car and washed the cemetery and Oran Park mud off my shoes, scrubbed them clean.

After I watched my third dad die an awful death from cancer, I flew to New York with Dave and said hon, imma need a pair of black and gold hi-tops to get through this next bit.

So I bought those hi-tops and I got through it. When I say I'm gonna do something, I do it.

Last Sunday I could have walked across the road to Picton pub and got myself absolutely smashed. It was tempting. There was a guy playing guitar and singing Doors songs as I trudged angrily through the cemetery. "Doncha love her madly ... wanna be her daddy?"

It was like a scene from a strange, weird film. Except this is my life and I live it and and if I go get drunk in a bar, it'll fuck everything up so I didn't. I came home and cooked green chicken curry for dinner and watched television with my family.

When my children talk to me I look them in the eye and I ALWAYS tuck them into bed and I tell all of them they are amazing, they are loved, that the world will wear them down but you have to keep going even though I don't believe it much myself. And I apologise so many times when I fuck up as a parent, because I do - a lot. But I don't abuse my kids. I don't treat them like shit, like they're a hindrance or worthless. The buck stopped with me.

I will never go back to Picton or Camden or Oran Park again. Ever. I exorcised some demons but I ain't no ghostchaser, lord knows they chase me everyday I don't need to go out hunting them down.

I have more hardships in life to face and I'll need to be strong for them. I'll live with the anguish of my brothers life and death for the rest of my life. It will never "be ok." It will never "mean something." I can't work the world out, can't quite say why my brother is not here and I am. Exactly a year ago I was in hospital for my depression and exactly a year ago he wasn't in hospital for his depression. Exactly a year ago both of us were fighting for our lives but now only one of us is standing so I stand for both of us now. I've got a pair of brown cowboy boots with aqua stitching being sent to me from the USA. Bought them online last week and they cost over two hundred dollars.

I'm gonna stand in them. They're my poetry-performing boots and I need them to get through this next bit. And the next. And the next. Until I die. Then I'm dead. What a relief.


See I told you - it's ok! *I* am the monster like Grover at the end of this book! 

Now let's dance.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...