My grandmother is a lovely lady who has been providing and comforting me for a long time. I'm very sad that I often do things wrong around her, that I often mess up her place and act immature around her when she wants the best for me. I hate myself when I don't succeed in my life because I know that she wants me to be happy.
She doesn't have the favor of my sisters. Being an overprotective neat-freak never helped her out a bit, and her quirks are naturally old-fashioned. They don't get her and can't communicate with her, so they don't even bother. I always wanted things to be better between her and them. I also want for my future wife to be able to meet her.
If I could tell you all that she means to me, of all the goods and the evils of our relationship, then perhaps I could make you understand. This might seem like any generic sob story, any generic nightmare, and the emotional pain might on the surface appear simple, but within the prism of my world, the trauma was both as simple as a block hole's singularity and as complex as the human genome.
The day was today, or so I thought it was. I was unaware that I was dreaming. What I was aware of were the events of yesterday, the call I had with my mother about making sure I sent in the forms for my job, a concern both she and my grandmother shared. We had also talked about making sure that I got back on my anti-depressants, which I neglected ever since I partook in my independent RAGBRAI attempt.
I remember the words of my treacherous friend. I still love him, but he refuses to accept that we're both in the same boat and eternally wretched people. I remember how much it hurt for him to tell me that a real Christian would never suffer depression, and never feel a lingering sadness about the past. What gave him the authority to claim I had no right to feel depressed? What gave him the right to judge my past without knowing it? He couldn't understand, so I did not tell him. I do not know if I will ever tell him about my depression, or reveal to him just how broken I am because of it, for in my life I have rarely known happiness. That unhappiness has officially become part of my story, part of who I am and what has identified me.
My mother heard the story of this friend. Her support for me and her criticism of his bizarre claim comforted me. What I did not tell her was what the woman in my life told me. She was the only person outside of family I had ever told about my anti-depressants, for I had accidentally told her the moment I first met her. I told her the truth again, that I went off of them. What was her exact response? Have I erased it from my memory? Have I taken it from my past and cast it out among the stars?
"God will provide."
And I believed her.
It was so sweet, so encouraging. She has a power over people, being social in just the right way that she can contagiously infect anyone with a sense that they must live up to her encouragement. I regret that I was one of her victims. I would never have biked fifty miles every day if it wasn't because she told me to "Go for it." I would have never done RAGBRAI if she didn't tell me "Go for it." I would have never biked three hundred miles from my mother's house to my father's house if she hadn't told me "Go for it."
This last venture I did without informing my mother, and I broke her heart and hurt her dearly when I called late at night to let her know I was not coming back from my bike trip. A permanent wall went up between us, because she knew she could never trust me anymore.
So I never told my mother that I forwent my medication because that woman in my life believed in me. Her belief worked for a time, while I was on an emotional high, but now that it has worn off, I find myself completely unproductive and incapable of focus, and now in my loneliness and despair I only know to make regular calls with my mother, who I choose not to tell of the woman's involvement, and my grandmother, who must see me hurt myself.
After my dream cycled through my memories, matters of mere fact, it began to invent the events of the next day, or today as it appears to me right now.
I was on the phone with my mother, taking out the trash in the garage. As the garage door opened, my grandmother spotted me from the spot she sat attending her garden. She came over to me, walking in the frail, careful way she walks. I was still on the doorstep that bridged the garage with her kitchen, the step that she had often fallen off of and caused me great alarm.
"You went off of your anti-depressants?" she said. What was that tone in her voice? Was it confusion? Concern? Disapproval? Disappointment? Anger? Fear? My ear picked up what could have been each of these, which tells me that they were probably all there. In any case, I knew one thing for sure, that I had hurt her, and that she was distressed.
It was plain by the look in her eye. She saw for herself that her grandson, who she wanted to see live happily and whose love for him he would never even begin to fathom until he was sixty, who she protected and guided, to whom she had offered everything, had scorned a life of happiness, and with it, her love. Suddenly I knew that this was something far greater than myself, and I felt black shame.
"No grandma, you don't understand," I pleaded. I removed the phone from my ear. My mother could wait a minute. She would understand. "Grandma, just let me explain. Come here, Grandma, I'm fine. I've been talking with Mom about it!"
As I approached her, I tried to give her a hug, but in an attempt to demonstrate my earnest intentions, I reached out to pad her shoulders with my hands. "Grandma! Grandma! Grandma!" Everything was not all right. Everything was not all right. Then, as I reached out to touch her, though she did not resist me, she was not prepared for my energy. I did not violently push her. It was not, strictly speaking, the physical act that drew her back. I am sure that it was my blood that did it, the blood filled the veins in my hands, and it traced back to my imperfectly beating heart, which was as hard and heavy as stone. With the density it gave me, something unstoppable - inevitable - happened, and I drove another nail between me and my precious Garden of Eden.
It was an accident, I swear. Or was it? Could it be that this was fully and entirely my fault? Did I not just say myself that this was inevitable? No, it wasn't like that! We were walking toward each other, and all I wanted to do was to tell her that it was all right, that I was truly sorry and I would stop hurting myself like this. I had wanted to tell her so bad, and if only I hadn't wanted it too much. We were shaking, out of balance. It was like taking a wrong step in a complicated dance. Some sort of energy passed between my grandma and me, something that came from my heart. My blood, my hands. Nails, Eden. My actions were gentle, but my state of mind was not. In my soul, I was frantic, desperate. What had I done? What had I done? What had I done?
She fell backward. In my slowness, I failed to react. I was too busy selfishly pitying myself to make the connection in time. By instinct, I knew, long before it actually happened. With my emotions, with my intellect, and with my soul, I knew. If only I knew it with my body. Had my soul been healthy, would it have made any difference? Would I have reacted sooner?
I tried diving in time, but something was wrong with my coordination. In the last split second, some heightened awareness informed me of vibrations heading through the air as her head cracked against the pasty white concrete, and I could acutely determine that her fragile skull received a shock wave along its length, causing it to flex and sway subtly in the way that mankind's greatest architectural achievements were designed to, but an old, weary human head was never meant to. With even more precision still, I detected further, even subtler vibrations coming from deeper within, even as they passed through the trembling mass of her crown. I knew in intimate detail, subconsciously, that a large vein in the back of her head snapped, and that the sickening crack that I heard was the sound of irreparable damage done to the most important organ of her body.
Nestled against her final pillow, I fell over her. Too late. She was still alive - I could feel it in the palm of my hand as I picked up her head - but just barely. She wouldn't hand on long enough for an ambulance to arrive. Nobody could save her.
My lips kept on uttering the word "No!" even though it ceased to have meaning in my mind. At first I said it at a frantic pace, as if I had done something wrong that I could take back, as if saying it enough times would cause my past self from two seconds ago to hear me and change this most damning present before it even happened, or had I said it soon enough and fervently enough I could bring my grandmother's forgiveness, which would magically undo the damage she received. Then, when the truth settled in, I screamed it. It would have disturbed my cousin from where she sat sewing in the house, and the neighbors and the morning joggers. Let them hear. The rest of the world didn't matter. The stars could be blotted out, the voices of the angels silenced, the greens of the field burnt, and the solitude of the churches torn down. They didn't matter anymore.
"It was some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead."
How, then, shall I comfort myself, the murder of all murderers? What was more loving and more deserving of love than all I have ever known has bled to death in my hand. Who will wipe this blood off me? What water is there for me to clean myself? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall I have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for me? Must I myself not become God simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed, you know, and whoever came after me when they heard my cries, having witnessed the deed, will have seen a man more precisely aware of exactly who he was than any philosopher could ever dream.
I did not wake right away. This nightmare continued to burden me throughout the night, seeping into my other dreams as if it was an actual memory, continuing to define the narratives of my other phantasms. When I woke up, it was nearly noon, and I had slept twelve hours, just as I did when I first needed to go on anti-depressants. Later that day - as I wasted my time away, lacking all focus and sense of time, discovering only that my depression restored my ability to write, just as John Forbes Nash discovered that his mathematical genius was at its brightest when he dealt with his schizophrenia head-on - the haunting words of Friedrich Nietzsche came to me as I looked back upon my worst nightmare.
"I have come too early; my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars---and yet they have done it themselves."