Our Word :: Week 2 Day 2 :: {Truth}

by Cassie

Roland let me die. That is the truth.
I still love him.
That is the truth.
When is a door not a door? When it’s a jar, and that is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.
What has four wheels and flies? A garbage truck, and that is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.
You have to watch Blaine all the time, Blaine is a pain, and that is the truth.

— excerpt of Jake Chambers’ final essay in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King

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What is my truth?

My truth is this: I am the adult daughter of an alcoholic father who died one year and three months ago and sometimes when I dream of him, I can still smell his drunk smell — leather and smoke and ninety proof. He took his last breath with very few things left in this world — a sweet woman who tried her best, a trailer with a sink full of dirty dishes and an overflowing ashtray, an unwieldy wheelchair leaving tracks through the side of the yard that never gets enough sun — and my last memories of him are steeped in the sadness of a pissed-in camper bed and empty vodka bottles hidden in dresser drawers and boxes shoved under tables and into corners. When I see him in my sleep, he is never one-legged, but he always sways where he stands, as if a wind follows his footsteps. I can feel compassion there, in the world behind my closed eyes, and I hold forgiveness in the palm of my hand, like a sugar cube, like a treasure. I never ask why because reasons are unimportant in the hushed halls where the dead live on — what would it change, to know? — and true acceptance means not having all the answers but still moving your feet. So I move my feet. I shuffle forward to find what I can offer the ghost of my father that lives in my face now, and somewhere, there is an ocean of grace that I will fall into and drink up until I lay on the bottom with a belly full of salt and sand, a shipwrecked heart about to be plundered for the cargo it had no business carrying in the first place. Stripped down to bare boards, it can once again catch the current, rise back up through the fish and the fathoms, into the waiting face of the sun, into the stars that spell out his name when I’m not looking.

What is my truth?

My truth is this: I am thirty-five years old, and my life is so full that I fight against how fleeting it is. I’m not afraid to die. It doesn’t matter what comes after — something, nothing, somewhere in between — because the idea of an afterlife feels like a consolation prize to me. Heaven is outside my window, right now, right this very minute — the willow tree with its delicate leaves, the wild way the weeds have grown up while the lawn mower was being repaired, a fat bumblebee bumping up against the glass, the bamboo shoots of the garlic growing in a pot over the sink, the way the lavender turns itself toward the sun. It’s the smell of banana bread baking in the oven, the dimples above my daughter’s elbows, the scent of earth on my son’s skin when he comes in from climbing his favorite tree. It’s in wildflowers that taste like the beginning of time as they sit on your tongue, and strangers who wave you in ahead of them in line. It’s the constellations that explode into the black behind your eyelids the first time you say yes and really mean it, and hands on your hips guiding you home. It’s the sound of seagulls and the smell of sunscreen, the spaces in between the shadows, the screaming brakes of a subway train pulling into Grand Central Station, setting foot in a brand new country and knowing it’s where your bones belong. No. I’m not afraid to die, but I am terrified to give these up, to let go of the truths that tie together the atoms of my very existence. I clench my fists unconsciously, curling my fingers tightly around the tiny speck of my mortality, baring my teeth at a universe blind to how beloved it is to me. I hope I get to go down fighting, clawing around every corner of death for one last glimpse of all the good and glorious and ordinary moments.

What is my truth?

My truth is this: I am a mess. We all are. I am deeply damaged all along the soft underbelly of me — maybe more than you, maybe less, perspective is hard when you’re trying to examine the levels of your own pain. Words like atomic bombs that have obliterated me. Shattering loss that left me sobbing into the floor, curled up around myself, compressing all that pain into the tiniest chip of bone at the bottom of my sacrum. Inexplicable acts of abandonment, wandering the wasteland of an orphaned spirit; a trespasser, stealing apples of emotion from the orchards of another, sleeping in the soundly constructed stables of someone else’s dreams. Broken. Laid open. Gutted and thrown at the feet of the common gods we call upon with a single breath, skin shrinking back from my bones under the heat of a sun bigger than the sky. But this, this, it’s still so beautiful. My life, your life, the life that comes with being human, being so stupidly fragile and so tremendously strong, being so exquisitely awkward and so breathtakingly graceful. Being in these bodies of dead starlight, rubbing against each other, souls sparking, supernovas in reverse. This life, our lives, are the truth. You have to watch life all the time, life is a pain, and that is the truth. Life lets us die, a hundred times over in a thousand different ways, but we still love it. I still love it. And that is my truth.

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