What I mean is this; the first time I hurt myself intentionally since high school was a couple months ago when I woke up to find the two chickens I’d left outside all night had been killed by a neighbor’s dog. Two chickens. Three new scars. I know. Its like fifteen all over again only this time its more embarrassing because Adulthood. Something something mental illness.
I drove to South Mountain blurry-eyed, hitting my steering wheel and desperately hoping I could sneak back in time twelve hours to put the stupid hens back in their coop, and then fumbled my pocket knife out of my purse. Something about guilt and self-loathing. Then I went hiking, begging God to forgive me if He was real and wondering why, fucking why, I suck so badly at death.
Right now its 1:37 am and I literally had to get out of bed and turn the lights on because I can’t stop thinking that if anything happened to my little sister I wouldn’t be able to keep moving. I kept trying to pray, like, “dear God, remember me? I used to try and hang out with you? Remember? Cool, well, long time no talk, but could you do me a favor and make me fall asleep so I can stop thinking about my sister getting hit by a car? Whadoya say?”
I’ve been in California for sixteen days. I’m mostly sitting around at my dad’s house waiting for camp to start, and doing a lot of second-guessing my entire life. Can you have a quarter-life crisis? Because I feel like you can. I feel like I’m in hiding and I don’t even really know why. I was going to tell you about my friends back in Phoenix and how they’re the most exquisite human beings I can imagine. I was going to tell you about the concerts and the nannying and my excitement over all the improvements at camp this year. I was going to tell you I’m sorry for being such an arrogant jerk so often, and how I re-watched Billy Jack and realized who the real hero of that movie is. (spoiler; its not Billy Jack.) But I guess that’s gonna have to wait because, hello, baffled and horrified evening tossing and turning because Death is a thing.
Anyway, tonight we were invited to a neighbor’s house for a Memorial Day barbeque, and I got to talking with an amazing woman about her travel past and plans. It got me all jazzed up for those quieted South America ideas of mine, and reminiscent about those dreamlike three months I spent in Australia. I started thinking, you know what, I’ll settle down in P-town later. Right now I’m gonna focus on making enough money to take off again like I’ve wanted to for years.
And yet…its two in the morning and I’m losing my absolute shit wondering if I’d rip out my hair or drive into a tree or something if my sister died. And wondering, if I could go back in time to sixteen, with the knowledge I have now, could I save Leah Tschida?
Now Christian, with your books and theology and heartfelt prayers, do not assume I haven’t read those good books myself. I read them. I read those blogs and listen to those podcasts. I go to church and try to pray and really do still, believe it or not, believe in all this stuff.
But I cannot get a grip on death. I’m dumbfounded and offended by it. It makes me angry. Remember, I’m one who still cringes at the injustice of having been born without my consultation in the first place. Death seems to add insult to injury.
I don’t understand how you’re supposed to keep talking and walking and eating and watching movies after a loved one dies. It seems like the most absurd thing imaginable that a person can be dead. How are you supposed to reconcile loving and investing in and planning with a person, only to have that person taken? How are you supposed to keep moving?
The most comforting thing I’ve come to understand is that, according to the Judeo-Christian scripture, death is not an original part of creation. Mankind was created to live forever in harmony with God, and the only reason God killed the first animal was that after the Fall, Adam and Eve felt shame for their bodies. God apparently killed and skinned an animal and clothed them with it, a foreshadowing of Christ being slaughtered and his death covering the shame and sin of the entire world.*
It’s really a pretty idea, especially since I need something to connect with when my stomach is this tied up in knots and I can’t wrap my head around the wrongness of day-to-day life. I don’t know how to explain it. Something is wrong. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. There is an underlying wrongness in this world that I cannot come to grips with. I don’t even feel like a functional human being most of the time because this whole thing is so screwed up, I don’t know how to participate. I don’t even want to.
There is no greater theme or bow-wrapped lesson in this one, friends. I was just going crazy in my bed and telling you about is the healthiest form of therapy I’ve got.
*I know about Heaven and Hell too, and I read all the theories people way smarter than me have proposed as to what that even means, but none of those theories seem particularly helpful right now. I don’t know why.