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30 June 2009 @ 06:17 pm
Theatrical Muse: Week 289: Question 289  
Name: Dr. Sid Hammerback

Fandom: CSI: New York

Word Count: 1803


Cheer someone up.


There is something violently intrinsic about the bond between child and parent, whether mother or father. It can be either really, because relations within our society are so multifaceted that one child is no longer destined to be raised by mommy with brief interspersed visits from father in the evening time. Although my parents weren’t like that, it seems that with my generation and those close to it, the father was a distant figurehead designed to impose order and restrictions upon the household. Yes, well now in the modern day, I may very well be a man, but when I was married, it wasn’t anything like that. Marianne and I, we both had our hectic schedules, our appointments and designated duties to perform in order to earn our pay, but there was always that seemingly idyllic time for family. These glorious unexpected times in the day, for business papers spread over the dining table, and wooden blocks splayed readily across the floor while dinner was made around all the mess and commotion. There was always time for family in our household, as much or as little time as we had to give on any particular day; there was always something, some of it to be given, to be shared.

The notion of children though. How could I have explained to Marianne when we got married that one day we would produce between us two individual beings, two creations as it were, made out of the splitting and mingling of genetics to become, something else, something ours, but still of its own. It was a funny thing, we knew we wanted children, but we only held distant figments of girls in dresses or boys pulling up flowers. We had rough sketched names and other designations, but we had university to go through, we had our own growing up to do, and children were a long way off. Then all of a sudden, the years had rolled past us, and there Christopher and Michael were, indeterminable bundles of joy, vomit, crayon drawings and diapers.

There was one working day, perhaps a year or so before they died, probably about a year and a half, when I took the train to work as opposed to the car, bike, or even the bus. I got off at an earlier stop on the way home to visit some friends and to look around a late night grocer to find some milk, bread, and ah, some bok choy, that Marianne had asked me to pick up. We were having stir fry for dinner, because Chris had begun a recent but vivid fascination with chopsticks. Michael wasn’t quite old enough to manipulate them with Christopher’s dexterity, but we were harbouring the interest for what it was, childhood fascination of the obtuse and the extraordinary.

That night I visited with two friends, one artist and one art supply store worker who lived together in this kind of blaze of tie dyed pillows and abstract paintings. Either way they went about promoting artistic expression, they were good people, so we shared a drink and a few words. The art supply store man gave me a defective box of crayons for Michael, two dark blue colours instead of one light, one dark, I remember this precisely. With two boys, I had learned to err on the side of slight caution with those slight tinges of jealousy, but it was, as with so many things, not something I gave a thought to that day. Thus I ended up at home with the milk, bread, crayons and bok choy. Marianne and Chris had started on dinner and Michael was scribbling on paper in a high chair.

Michael took the box of crayons with about as much grace as someone near to two and a half or thereabouts can do, and bidden out of the kitchen by my wife I sat down with him at the table. Suddenly there was Chris pushing himself under my arm, looking at this box of crayons. He was himself inclined to drawings, yes, but perhaps more so to other things more constructive, like Lego. But gifts are gifts, either way, and through a child’s eyes, one sided gifts are, how to say it, hard to perceive, different from an adult at the very least. There weren’t tears, no, no, Chris was a lovely, lovely, understanding boy, but I did see those flickers of confusion in his eyes, I remember that. I remember a lot of little things about my boys, those tiny looks and those awkward glances when they had done something wrong. I remember so much of them, and I only had them for such a short time. Parents are not usually meant to outlive their own children.

Something truly weird happened that night. I took the place of Christopher in the kitchen, helping Marianne with the vegetables for the stir fry. The boys stayed at the dinner table, I assume Chris was watching Michael, who was catching quickly onto the concept of drawing a rudimentary circle with whatever art supplies he could get a hold of. When I returned to the room to check on them, cutlery and chopsticks in hand so I could set the table, there were all the crayons set out on the table, broken clearly in half and divided amongst siblings. The two alike crayons for which had made the box come into my hands in the first place, the two dark blue ones, were again divided, but were not broken. There were two of the same, of course, they were two equal instruments, so there was no point in harming them. I’m not saying that the broken crayons were perfectly and clearly divided in half, but it was pretty close. I didn’t really ask as I set the table, because they had shared the paper also and begun drawing, as they were often tempted to do when supplied with such things. Looking at Michael for a moment, he must have given me his best attempt at a shrug, and for all the world, as young as he was, I knew it had been him who had made the effort to flatten out the playing ground between them. Of the two, I am sure Mike would have been the more inclined to art and Chris more inclined towards things of the hand, of putting delicate part with delicate part, but that is not the point.

Having children is a unique experience, and, well, I have heard the saying that no one can know exactly what it is like until they have indeed experienced it. I suppose, to some strengths, this is true, because Marianne and I could not have imagined the very specific uniqueness of our children, only the concept and the imagined emotions that were associated with the act of being a parent. Once it happens though, ah, there is a whole new set of things to associate, to learn and remember. What child likes this, which one belongs to that, who prefers which blanket or which toy; just like any other human, really, except they are dependent on you entirely for their own wellbeing. Just that day, though, just that day I learned, or had reinforced, the lesson about sharing. I suppose any parent brings gifts for their children, it is what I, what I did, what I would have done in the future, because causing happiness or thankfulness is in itself a fulfilling experience. I suppose, there would have been other times, with two children, where one got something and the other didn’t, but while they were that young, and a prime example in that experience especially, maybe the understanding wasn’t quite there between them, that one could receive and the other could be content to get something at another time. Thus they shared.

I had two boys once, two wonderful, lovely boys, and before they died, I loved each of them as an individual, and together we loved each other as what I regarded to be a nice family unit, albeit one with its own specific differences and eccentricities. I still love my boys, but this love is not based on the continuing existence of a physical body with a mind subjective to its own thoughts and experiences, willing to be objective under the gaze of everyone else. No, I suppose, when it comes to the need to cheer myself up, all I have left is what they left behind, all their objects, their toys, their things, the drawings they created and the seemingly tiny clothes they were meant to continued wearing. All I have left to bring me cheer as a result of their existence is those objects and my memories of them, of my two sons, of Michael and Christopher and very much in the same object cum memory boat, my wife, Marianne.

In having a family, I once had a lot of cheer. Now, I still have a lot of cheer in my life, but it is no longer of that atypical warm and fuzzy family kind, well, not the kind associated with spouses and offspring. No, the cheer I get nowadays is from the family I have left, my mother, my father, Marianne’s parents, it is from my friends, from the people I meet in and out of the job, and form the city they I live in. My cheer comes, as it has done all throughout my life, from the life in and around me, except that now, I am not looking in the familiar places that my wife and children provided for me. It is no longer from alcohol, even if that addiction was brief and fleeting, it is just from the fact that I have a continued life, and that life around me does continue on.

I needed Marianne as I needed air, and she felt the same way about me. In that respect we were inseparable, even when we were away from each other. Now that she is gone, what do I do to be cheerful without her, without them? I breathe the same air, and I live with myself, with the memories of them, of the collective memories of us together in a past very different from the present as it is today. Oh, in their death, cheerfulness may have faded away for a while, but now, here in my own future, all I can do is simply, keep breathing, and continue. I could never have stopped after their death, because if I had, if I had not cheered myself up by remembering them, I wouldn’t be here today. That is the truth, clear and simple and unadulterated. My wife, my two sons, they brought me cheer, and now, without them, I move on with the memories of them perfectly intact.
 
 
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