And To Dust We Shall Return


I’m depressed, I said as I flopped down frowning on the couch.  She chuckled at me or her internet game (I wasn’t sure which, or which I would prefer), and I remembered why I need to move into my own apartment.  Note to self: future roommates must be emotionally intuitive…or at least not deaf.  It was a Tuesday or a Wednesday or one of those other days that don’t mean much of anything on their own, and I was wallowing in something – what I wasn’t sure.   The last week or two has been like that.  At first my temper was short and I found myself bent out of shape by everyday frustrations like accidently knocking shoes off their displays or drivers who drive below the speed limit in the left lane.  In the last week my irritation has mellowed into calm sorrow, quiet mopiness, and the feeling that everything is a little distant.  I haven’t been able to sleep and when I do I’ve been having recurring dreams.  Or, rather, a recurring image of myself I see when I finally do get to sleep.

I’ve been attributing it to all sorts of things. School was the easiest scapegoat – grad school is actually beginning to feel like real grad school, complete with moderately motivated teammates and real clients, an aerospace engineer teaching (and grading) a room full of advertisers, and hours of reading that are actually necessary (Dodged that for 17 years…damn I was SO close.)  Work has been filling up a lot of hours lately as well, and the recent fuck-you I received from my bronchial tubes was the cherry on top of the sundae.  And of course, the hours when I’m not getting paid and should be working are being filled by blank staring and daydreams, thinking about all the places I’d rather be than here.

But the truth is I don’t think it has much to do with any of those things.  Two of my grades still sit at a 4.0 while one hovers comfortably above a 3.something, and the wonderland of shoes is the same as it’s always been.  A Zpack makes my illness little more than an annoyance, and my best friends are no more distant than they were a month ago.  And even my favorite phantom limb doesn’t usually start to tingle without being provoked.

The dream I’ve been having night after night is a picture of myself.  I’m carved out of stone – pure white marble and wrapped in draping cloths with curly tundrels like the carvings of ancient goddesses and Greek lovers.  I’m sitting or standing or lying on an elegant bed, and I’m holding my chest.  It’s bleeding.  But surprisingly, that’s it.  There’s no pain – no anger or fear or tears on my face; I’m just staring glassy-eyed at whoever happens to be looking.  I’m not dying and frankly, there isn’t much wrong other than the steady flow of red coming through my fingers, down my forearms and dripping onto the floor.

Then the other day it hit me.  It’s the end of February.  This week was Ash Wednesday, and Easter’s coming up.  And I’m back attending the church I did for so many years of my life – with him.  It’s Lent, the season that reminds us of mortality, and it’s Dylan’s season.  Coming up on the second anniversary of his death I’ve come a long way from digging my nails into my flesh lying on the kitchen floor and bathing naked in people’s lakes, but this time of year still carries a black cloud hanging just above my head.  This year I’m strong as stone and chiseled as a character in the great epic tale that was his life, but my heart still bleeds from its empty space.

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.
– T. S. Eliott



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