A Backpack Full of Memories


No Waking Up

She thought she found someone to rescue her from her misery. She saw a man that could take her away from whatever she was running from and be able to live the life she wanted. She made herself into the woman he was looking for and always wanted. She listened to his heart, his words, his values and said what she needed to.
He thought he had found the one person he had searched for in vain his whole life. He thought he found the one person that he could love with all of his being and be loved, truly loved by her. Blinded by her words, smoke screens hiding the truth, half truths, and lies, he fell. Weak for her, what he thought was her, he could not see what everyone else saw. He didn’t heed his friends and family. He didn’t heed her family’s words. “They just don’t know her the way I do”, he thought.
As time passed his love for her grew stronger and was put to the test by her personality and traits slowly showing through. He thought, “She has just had a hard life. It’s not her fault. I can help her, love her, make her pain go away by showing her there is another way, a loving way”. He left his family and friends to be with her. He loved her.
Arguments arose out of nothing it seemed. Things were said to him, making him feel less than. Pushing, pulling his heart and his mind back and forth, all the while he is trying to convince her he was not going anywhere. He loved her. He was dedicated to her. It was never enough. Just as things were coming to a head, he finds out he is having a son. A life is growing and an even deeper love fills his heart. Her words and actions break him down further. Degrading him in public, embarrassing him, words in private that make his heart sink. She is a new mother, he thought to himself, it’s hard on her. So, I have to be even stronger now for the both of us.”
She had moments of caring sanity that tried to crawl out. It was a side he knew was there and with enough love would become stronger. He kept showing her the way it could be, what his parents had. Two people loving each other for each other, no matter what life threw at them. Those moments were fleeting as she controlled more and more of him. Beating down the man and trying to mold a source to supply her with her wants. His 60 hours weeks along with school and other jobs lasted for years.  “A man provides for his family. Honorable men do not complain.”  Repeating these phrases over and over looking for strength.

His friends wondered how he was, where he was. He was not allowed to contact them. “They don’t really love you like I do. Your family just wants to keep us apart. If you really loved me, you would only need me”.  Her words eventually turn him.  Phone calls home become rare and short. Hiding his calls to his friends and family when he is at work.
Her nights of questionable absence. Scared for her safety only to have her stumble in early the next morning with a barrage of misdirection and deflection.  Accepting her stories, as his questions are turned on him.  It hurt less than the truth.  She will change. Things will get better.  Love is stronger.
He now has two sons.  Beautiful and wonderful.  They are his strength.  He teaches them what his father taught him, what he remembers seeing while growing up.  Always do the right thing.  All the while his beliefs are slowly being buried.  He should have done something.  More nights of question and sleeplessness.

Finally he is able to give her everything she has ever told him she wanted.  Perfect house, perfect neighborhood, perfect school, perfect children, cars she always wanted, more of everything she wanted. He didn’t care about the money but he knew it made her happy. He thought it would help make her happy.  He thought maybe this will finally give her the chance to Love.
He is no longer necessary.  Strange phone calls, text messages, hidden conversations happen more and more.  Yet, hearing how hard her life is with the boys, he feels bad for her.  He Loves her.  She can see it.  He knows she just has to.  All the years of flowers and rose petal baths, candle lit bedrooms, were not enough but now she has the life she wanted.  Now it will all be okay.

He is told to leave.  He is told he is not a man.  He is a bad father.  He could never love her the way the other man can.  He could never be the father this stranger will be to his sons.  He wasted her life.  He is worthless.  Her eyes glare as the words spill out of her mouth like poison.  His heart dies. Slowly rising, with tears filling his eyes he asks her to please leave.  He can not bear for her to stand there watching emotionless.  Exhausted, sick to his stomach, crying, he sits on the floor unable to move. He stares at the walls for hours and days waiting to wake up. There is no waking up. There are no children laughing and playing, no sound of them running back and forth.  Daddy.  Sweetheart.  Honey.  I Love you daddy.  Good morning baby.  The words are now only phantom memories floating through the air of a quiet home and an empty heart.  He is left with nothing but the weight of this inescapable reality.  There is no light, no air, no reason.
There is no waking up.

This unimaginable discarding of the Love I thought existed between my wife and I, disintegrated my world.  The weight of my failure, as I saw it, grew with every moment that passed.  I failed her somehow.  Driving me deeper down was the unacceptable reality that there was nothing I could do, because it had nothing to do with me at all.  My Love was meaningless.  As the sadness amassed it pulled me further into depression, feeding itself, growing more and more powerful until my will for life finally broke.   Why was I not strong enough?  Why could I not deal with this intangible pain?  Why am I not strong enough?!  Why am I not strong enough?!  Why?!  Why?!  My mind wails these words over and over drowning out any sense of goodness left in my life.  I am pulled further down, unable to lift the weight of my soul.  I am a failure.  Please God remove this weight from my soul.

17 July 2010
How can I not write about my pack, my burden-my needs-my failure from before.
They all think I’m nuts all this weight on my back “It’s harder you know, how do you do it, why did you do it” I smile not knowing exactly how to answer. Do I give them a witty response? Most people shy away from the sobering truth of things to occupy their minds with unimportant distractions. Short entertaining stories of adventure is what they crave. So that is what I give them. I paint over the truth with grand gestures, making them actors in my stories until, eventually, they feel a part of my experiences on the road. They laugh and ask questions that start to turn thin with boredom.

Now they too have a story, stranger on a mountain bike riding across the country with a huge back pack…

Black and radiating heat from the sun. It can hold no more inside its seams.
More weight is added strapped tight around it increasing the burden, increasing the weight
Bringing its bearer toward his fate
A tarp and tires, tools and a fishing pole.

…The stories are passed on.  Excited by attention the story teller compels the listeners to ask questions as the laughter thins with boredom.  Like kids around a campfire they ask for more stories.  Tell us more of this man.  Why is he doing it?  But they can’t you see.  They don’t know the answer, the truth of me.

The pole for fishing, tires for his bike
The tools for fixing and the rest I don’t know why.
Maybe all of these wrong.
They are only the glint on your sunglasses that keep you from seeing my eyes.
It is everything that should be nothing
The nothing that beats you to the ground
The nothing that makes you forget why you are around.
It is heavy, it is cumbersome, it stinks of memories and sweat
It slows my progress but I can not let it go yet
Without its weight driving me I would slip into the mud
I dig into every day dealing with its contents, most of which I wary of
A chance not to unpack it, if only for a day
Gives me peace in pretending it’s not there.

Nothing weighing on my body, my soul, my mind for a moment
I can breathe freely and stretch without its bindings that so reluctantly relinquish their hold on me
Standing back, cut away from this giant black tumor of memories and pain.  Starring at it as it began to speak adding yet another reminder
“Why take me off?  I will always be here.  Here for you.  I have food that will sustain you.  I can clothe you when the cold eats at you. You know you need me just like I need you.”

I glare.  I stare.  I yell at the pack on the ground and into the air.

I hate your logic, your manipulation of fact!  I can not argue, not now, not yet.  I need you for another reason you have not thought of yet.  Not even a brief consideration by you.  You will make me strong.  I am stronger every day and see even greater experiences pass me by due to your weight.  Yes.  You weigh me down, but not like you used to.  My body lying on the floor.  My soul strapped down no more.  You grow to compensate. Increasing the load, but you underestimated me from the start.  I chose to take you on

I decide what stays in and what comes out
You weigh more than the beginning because I am hauling you about
I’ve thought about leaving you stranded in your own helplessness but I am not quite done using your torment of me to make me stronger
I will carry more to remind me. It will be harder than before and I will handle it all
The pack sits quietly. I look down at it with a powerful knowing glare.
Quiet. No sound but a creak or a moan from the plastic buckles and nylon straps. I now stand freely with my pack on my back. Perhaps it is best I don’t try to explain the truth to these people. They wouldn’t understand what I live with every day.
That’s fine. That’s okay.
At least I know the difference
From before
First it was weakness
Caring, carrying too much
Now I choose to grow stronger from what I’ve had to do, did, and undone
So I ride a long disappearing road. Slipping into thin air thick with heat
I drink it in.  My lungs struggle to find oxygen in all the memories.  Not wanting to breathe any more because it’s so thick like trying to swallow down medicine that sits in your throat choking you with it’s healing power.  So I drink it in and swallow hard
Trying to disregard
The desert sand in my throat. Sweat pouring out of me like so many tears of a broken heart. I need to replace what I’ve lossed. Hot water flows into me. Hot like the sun that changed its worth.  It stares.  It glares.  This sun wears on me but not like the weight on my back.
So I ride and I climb.  defiantly hauling my back pack full of memories.


2 thoughts on “A Backpack Full of Memories

  1. Brought tears to my eyes because you were raised in love from two parents,unlike most of the world.
    My father NEVER gave me hugs or kisses because he thought life was too tough for men to be affectionate .
    That is basically why I never married because I could never share love with anyone.
    The saying is VERY TRUE:It is better to have loved and lost ,then never to have loved at all.
    Fortunately your father was raised by Granny and given love while growing up.It’s something I missed.
    Carry on Charlie Brown and may I say you have a real talent with words.I have read none better.
    Love Uncle John

    • I am glad to hear that it affected you. I hope to hit home with folks in order to get people to treat others differently. It is not an easy thing to come back from, some do not make it. I am very lucky to have mama and dad. It prides me to be my father’s son. I hope, even though I do not have the life I had before, he is proud. I hope.

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