Friday, July 28, 2006

Death Row

My face was buried in his dark green business overcoat. I was keenly aware of the fact that it was slightly rough on my face, but I didn’t care. There was something about the smell of cigarettes and the cold that would cling to him when he arrived home from work, an aroma that was not altogether unpleasant. The acrid, musty odor sullied my nose causing my eyes to start watering somewhat. It was either that or I was crying… again.

There I was, caught up in the wonder of the moment, basking in the glow of relief over one simple fact. This time, I had nothing to fear.

Earlier that day I had been sent home with an envelope from my 2nd Grade teacher. She made sure that I understood that I was not to open it under any circumstances. “Be sure to hand it to your parents unopened,” she said. It was incomprehensible to me to defy the wishes of a grown up, so I reluctantly carried the note home with all the enthusiasm of a death row inmate carrying his own death sentence.

The wait in my bedroom was unbearable. I was sure the note said terrible things about some unknown infraction that I was undoubtedly guilty of, and I began imagining the dreadful things that were sure to transpire once my father arrived home from work.

By the time he finally showed up I was shaking like a leaf.

I heard him power through the door downstairs with a thunderous, foreboding thud. He was the only one I knew who could make a statement through the simple act of entering the house. Today, that statement seemed to be, “Your time has come.”
I strained to hear the muffled mumblings of conversation that were struggling to make their way upstairs, drifting just out of reach up through the heating vents. Ear to the floor, I was powerless to make out any words, although I was convinced that I had detected an ominous tone in the voices of both my Mother and Father.

His heavy steps made their way up to the second floor. There was a deliberate evenness to them, and nothing to indicate what was coming.

I turned from the window that a few minutes earlier I had been dreaming out of. Slowly, I lifted my eyes to meet his gaze as his stocky silhouette filled the doorway to my room. There was no mistaking how frightened I was, and for a brief moment I thought I saw confusion in his eyes. He asked me in that gruff manner of speaking he had, “Why are you shaking?” but I choked on my reply as it got lodged somewhere between my chest and my throat.

Suddenly, before I could gather myself to muster some sort of response, I was astonished to catch the look on his face. His was not the face of anger; it was the face of compassion. And he was smiling. He had come up to congratulate me.

Apparently, my teacher had written a note commending me on how much I had improved in class. I was flabbergasted.
The rest is a blur, but what I remember most about that day is what it felt like to be embraced in my father’s arms as he wrapped them around me and held me tight.

It would be the only time in my life that I remember being held by my father.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Why

I have decided to post portions of the book I am writing as I write them. I am interested in hearing the feedback, comments, and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism that folks might have, not only on the subject matter, but also on the content and writing style. This particular blog holds the preface to this book entitled "Love and Other Bruises".


I’m not really a writer in the truest sense of the word. I am a poet and a songwriter, and have penned the words to many a song and poem. Having retired from the music industry, I began bouncing around the idea of writing a book. However, like most things we dream of doing, I could never seem to get around to it.

Nevertheless, recent events in my life stirred me to sit down and start writing.

The first significant event was the birth of my only son to date. His birth stirred a part of me that had been buried for years, and the impact of his arrival is something that is continuous and on going .

The second bit of inspiration was turning 38. There was something about it, something surreal. I remember my parents when they were 38. I recall thinking of them as very important, put together. They had seemed so confident and so stable.

I don’t think I have ever felt that way personally, but here I was the same age they were back then. There was no escaping it; I could no longer ignore the fact that I was approaching middle age.

Beyond that, turning 38 marked 25 years from the very day my life irrevocably changed forever and true innocence was lost.

Some people have wonderful stories of their childhood and of their formidable years growing up. Other people have stories of triumph over the most daunting of odds. Still others possess tales of success built from nothing.

This is not one of those stories.

Having said that, this is not a sad story. This is a truthful story about what happens to people when love is used as an excuse to inflict hurt, to abuse and to manipulate. It is a story of loss, confusion, and abandonment.

Most of all, it is an account of the continuing journey it takes to put together the scattered pieces that make up the heart, soul and spirit, and figure out where a persons true worth lies and what real love looks like. A love that doesn't leave bruises or scars on us individually because they have already been born by somebody else.

It is my hope that writing this book will not only contribute to healing within myself and others with similar life stories to mine, but that it will offer me the opportunity to give my son an insight into his father that he may never get any other way.

More importantly, it is my prayer that he, and you, will get to know better a Father who bore our bruises as the greatest act of love ever known.