25 April 2017
In the midst of all the touring around Ontario, I turned 44 years old. I often joke that it's a "Hard 44" that leaves me looking a little older than I am and usually lands a funny look from my wife. I'm getting a bit long in the tooth and it's not a surprise that it is hitting me a little harder as we get further from our decision to not pursue reproductive help anymore. I wrote about it last June in my post I'll Never Be a Dad. Still one of my most responded to of my ramblings, it was probably too fresh to be able to contemplate what the future would hold. We are not wealthy people, although we certainly have enough of what we need and a little left over for some fun. We don't have many ambitions except to lead a quiet life punctuated with the odd road trip or weekend away. Getting older means I am starting to look back and forward at the same time with the former coming with some rose coloured glasses as I want to reflect on the good times and not the bad. But it is looking forward that gives me pause and trouble as the clock inevitably ticks on towards the finish line.
The time we have on earth is finite and unknown. Our family has seen the loss of some of the brightest lights in our world and when a life so young is taken, you wonder why them? Why take one so primed for greatness and a long and happy future? Why am I still here despite decades of self abuse and dangerous behaviour? I felt shame and guilt when we were called to say goodbye to them and to this day wish I could grab hold of life the way they did in their short time here. A life lived without purpose or direction is not what I wished when I was a young man and it often stops me in my tracks when I feel the loss of such early promise.
Given to melancholy is not my usual state these days and it always means I need to turn to my words to discover what is wrong. I write because it is the only way I can properly form the problems in my head from abstract to real. Uneasy at where I feel my life is heading, I have withdrawn from the world slightly in the last while, despite the outward appearance of things being normal. I have learned the public face one must present is easy to find when you've worn it so long. My world can seem small and shrinking even when my expressions are positive and happy.
How do I find myself coming back to this darkness and what to do about it shape this post and the near future. I felt no real depression this winter, mainly due to the new friends I have found in the Craft Beer Community, both online and in real life. They have helped carry me through the darkest days with little trouble and as the spring creeps in I should be elated at a state of mind that is clearer than I've seen in years, But trouble appears when the dawn is breaking and I want to head it off before it gets a foothold in my life again.
I drink beer every day and that is no secret. Most people don't understand, however, that it is usually one or two that grace my glass and that compared to just a few short years ago, I am in control. Crushing a 24 in a night was a two or three times a week occurrence and I have no desire to be that guy again, despite the allure of the darkness and false release that brought. My turn to the second half of life, however long that may be, needs to be better because I am not afraid to face hard truths.
I watch as my family grows apart, not in a terrible way, but in a way that is both natural and has happened since time immemorial. Children grow up, move out and start their own families. Parents become Grandparents, sister and brothers become aunts and uncles and that family bond changes because it has to. The nuclear nature of each family, regardless of composition, leads to it needing to cleave its own way outside the original iteration. My brothers are good men who have raised wonderful children, but we are not what we once were. We love each other all the same and it isn't that we don't care, it is just that the attention we can focus on our family has changed. When you see the road that life has taken each of us on; we worked, we loved and lost and finally we found our way, separate but still bound by that initial love. Where we would make time for each other became less, not because we didn't care, but because that time was needed elsewhere. Growing families need the limited time between rest and work to accommodate the needs of the immediate members and that has meant we speak less, see each other almost never and have to be okay with that. Not having children has further sent us into different worlds as I will never truly understand what they have gone through as fathers; nor will they ever really know what it is like to remain without a child to complete the circle we all grew up in. I love my whole family, from then to now, with a red hot intensity that remains steadfast but grows slightly dimmer with time. I will always miss the closeness I had with my brothers, with my cousins whom we seemed to spend so many days around and the extended clan of relatives who now play a walk on role in our lives. I may not like that I have become that person in the lives of many I love, but that is the truth and I must face it.
The time I dedicate to myself should not be enjoyed with guilt though. Our decision slightly haunts me some days and I wonder if we should try again because I am not sure we were right to give up on the hope of having a child. A family of two is hard to comprehend when you grew up surrounded by a boisterous crew like we had, but if that is what it is to be, I need to learn to accept and even embrace it. I am never sure the feelings of an empty part in my soul will ever go away but as long as I can see that the ones I love have made something magical happen, I may just learn to be at peace with living out my days on the fringes of the larger family unit.
I am not surrounded my the noise and bustle of a large family anymore, our life is one of the quiet pursuit of whatever catches our fancy. And while most of our friends and family who are parents would love a few of the moments of the peace we have, I know they'd never trade the lives they've built for one without children.
Life gives us wonderful opportunities to start fresh every day, so I'll wake with the sun and try again.