Living With Ghosts: When Your Number Isn't Up...

...in which our hero wonders if he's outlived his usefulness and ponders what to do about it...
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...When the sun is finally going down

And you're overdue to follow

But you're still above the ground...

I have to start this out with the first time I heard this song. Mark Lanegan has spent more time at the top of my Favorite Aritsts list than just about anyone. He's one of my favorite vocalists and over the years but I didn't hear him the first time I listened to "When Your Number Isn't Up" but rather superimposed the timeless voice of Johnny Cash. It's such a shame to me Cash didn't live long enough to take a swing at this himself, which has nothing to do with what's on my mind tonight.

No one died but that's what this feels like, a death. There was no grand plan for the future- at least not in my mind. Not yet. No one died and yet it feels like so many things did.

The first thing that died was the present. The most obvious thing to miss is her, just her presence. Then you start drilling down to all the little things like holding hands and inside jokes, keeping a list of her favorite things and surprising her with them for no reason. Opening car doors. Arriving at the restaurant early because you want to watch her walk to you across the parking lot or securing a table and ordering ahead because you know what she's going to want. Then it's all gone and there is so much emptiness and so many hours to fill.

Most of my people are so busy, two weeks behind themselves on a good day, racing to catch up and never getting there. Not me. Some of that is my fault because it's not remotely fair to put that on someone. I let my life get too empty before she came or went. The anticipation of her filled the hours we weren't together and now there's nothing to anticipate. Finding new things is a top priority but without that anticipation, urgency is sorely lacking.

...what you got coming is hard to swallow...

The second thing that died was the future. There was no plan. Not yet. There was the possibility of the future because the story wasn't supposed to end. The future died but I didn't. I'm halfway through the book and won't be living the chapters I saw in dreams. The pages are still there but they feel more like a threat than a promise.

...no one needs to tell you that

there's no use for you here anymore

and where are your friends?

they've gone away

it's a different world

they left you to this

to janitor the emptiness...

My friends have far from abandoned me. Those who've been here for years have supported, comforted, listened, encouraged, cajoled, and advised and new friends have come onboard and done the same. They're still here and, for them, that's the problem. They're still here because I'm still here. They have my back and remain at my side but we're all exhausted. I'm wearing them out. They're reading this right now, exasperated, "Are you still on about this?"

I've become a dark cloud broken record. They haven't told me to get over it but they must be thinking it and not just because they don't want to hear about it anymore. They sincerely want me to be happy. So do I. I'm looking for a way out this abyss. You're excused if you're having trouble believing even a word of that.

I've tried to fake it so we can have a break. I try avoiding the subject but it's written on my face. Besides, everything reminds me of her or the times we shared. I've played the class clown, talking too fast and cracking wise about things that aren't funny but I suspect they see through it or see this as further evidence I've lost my mind. They may be right.

I loved the phrase "janitor the emptiness" the first time I heard it, thinking of it as shuffling the chairs on the deck of a Titanic-like life, making things resemble order for anyone looking while you wait for the clock to run out and wonder why it already hasn't.

I hear something different tonight. It's about cleaning up the wreckage not to create a facade but to make room for something different, something good. I don't know if I'm supposed to be patient or hatch a plan of my own. I'm screwed either way because I'm crap with patience and haven't got a clue what to do next but maybe that's the point. I have to "janitor the emptiness" first and maybe, just maybe, the clean will clarify.