She held a bomb in her hands, one planned for me. The kind from the cartoons that is round and black and literally has the word “Bomb” written on the sides in white lettering. She pulled out a strike anywhere match and stared at the red tip. The historically gentle woman knew that this bomb would eventually blow up and that her target was someone she loved. It was an explosive that she had to light though. She lowered the hand that held the matchstick to her right side. The igniter was held pinched between her thumb and her middle finger as the index finger pressed firmly behind the red tip. Dragging the wooden match slowly up the length of her outer thigh the tip instantly combining the chemical phosphorus with the potassium chlorate to create the flame she needed. In her left hand held “the bomb” the wick stood out of the devastating devise approximately six inches. Sighing, as she slowly moved the match in the right hand to meet the wick in her left, she closed her eyes. Holding flame to wick just long enough until her ears picked up the hissing and popping of the fuse being lit, she cried knowing there was no going back now. She walked in the door of the home that she kept with a man that she knew loved her more than anything besides their children, watching this wick slowly succumb to the fire she had introduced it to but moment before.
He sat on the couch sipping a glass of wine blissfully ignorant of the devastation that was about to walk up from behind. He heard the door shut and started to speak to her unaware of her pain, fears, tears, and proactive guilt about what she had to do. She had to hand him this bomb but she wanted to hand it to him gently. He turned around when she wouldn’t answer him and saw what she had in her hands. Confused he looked up at her, questioning with his eyes what her eyes so prominently displayed. Slowly she kept walking over to him, she leaned over, and held the bomb out in both hands as she let out a bellowing cry. He knew. He knew he had to take this bomb because it was the best thing he could do for her. Slowly his arms reached out and for the last time he placed them on her hands. He stared into her eyes intently trying to let her know that it is okay. The wick continued its tired reduction. Sliding his hands off of hers he grasped the bomb taking it from her ever so gently as to not drop it and hurt her in the process. As the possession of the device was transferred she slowly backed away staring at him through the tears filling her eyes. She gathered their kids, walked them towards the door, turning back once to simply mouth the words “I am so sorry” then left, carefully shutting the door as to not startle him so he would not drop the new weight that he held for himself and for her. This bomb was going to explode. It was up to him though how it would blow and who would be caught up in the wake of the explosion. If only a person holding a bomb that was just handed to them could react calmly, rationally, and intelligently in the face of utter devastation.
I got a new job recently. It is two states east of where I live now and about four hours away in Maine. I will be leaving everything I entered the state with, everything that I love, here. My oldest son has one year of high school left prior to college and my youngest decided he wanted to try another year in the green mountain state before deciding if he wanted to leave or not. Having gone 7 months being unemployed I didn’t have an ability to turn the position down. It is a good job and for a good company but I am devastated at the idea that I will leave my boys behind. It is not the type of father I want to be and have never wanted to be. This has had me thinking quite a bit, with many sleepless nights allowing additional time for thoughts and ideas to race through my mind, about what this all means, why this all happened, and the catalyst for all of this. What triggered the series of events that led to my losing of everything I held in my life? Was this life’s way of getting me back for all of those “I hate country music” jokes I made? You know where the man looses his wife, house, car, kids, oh and the dog too? If that were the case then I would try to like it so that maybe I could play the songs in reverse and getting everything back. Start with the kids though, then maybe the dogs and we will work our way from there. Anyway, I now have to move; I have to find a place, pack, move, and all in three weeks, no pressure. To make things easier for my kids and for her, I arranged it so she could move back into the place we once shared with her new #@$%@#. We spoke about this a bit via text but there was a lot more to figure out than just the move it was also setting up the time I would see the boys. I figured it would be best that we get together. She agreed.
We sat and spoke about everything regarding this move and the kids, getting that all figured out fairly quickly. Then I made a comment to her. It was an innocent jokish type comment; you know where you are kind of joking? I said to her that she really ignited a series of events for me. She left, I lost my job, I lost friendships, and now I lose my kids (and the dog). It wasn’t to blame her as aside from her leaving the rest are my responsibility but her decision kicked of a series of events that are essentially testing the mental fortitude I either have or don’t (latest test of strength not considered at this time so, to be continued). Her response was something that I enjoyed but also made me think. “I may have lit the bomb but I am not responsible for you running around with it like a chicken with its head cut off.” It was such a quick comment, I always loved her quick wit, but it rang through my head for days. It is the truth that I do not blame her for the eventual happenings in my life. It is the truth that I ran around unsure what to do with the bomb placed within my hands. But who really knows what to do when they have been handed a bomb?
I have said this to her a few times, “You don’t know what this is like and I hope that you never do.” Her leaving, look it was an event in my life that I will obviously never forget. I will remember the day just like those that still say, “I remember where I was when Kennedy was shot” or “I remember the Challenger like it happened yesterday”. The day is still so vivid in my mind that, while it hurts less now thinking about it than it used to, I can still feel the emotions and I can still feel the pain swell in my stomach. She made a decision to light that fuse and hand me the bomb. She knew it would hurt me. It was the correct decision for her so there is no blame or anger, she was unhappy and needed to go on to her new life, but you intentionally make a decision to light the fuse. You have an idea in your mind as to what the outcome is or at least how you will handle your portion. The person making the choice had a plan that they will follow after planting the bomb in another’s hands. The person being handed the bomb has no plan, no forewarned knowledge of impending doom, nothing. They don’t get to decide how they are going to react unless they have experienced this type of situation prior. So what sets in when someone is caught off guard by a life-altering situation? Some panic, others gather their feeling of desperation and hide, and some run in circles staring at the object in their hands pleading with friends, strangers, and family for help.
Yes, I did it. I took the bomb. I ran with it hoping to find somewhere to place it where the aftermath would not be devastating to all around. I was unable to find that space. Everywhere I tried to put it as so perfectly illustrated in the cartoons I grew up with, it would end up back in my hands or with a loved one. So I kept it, I held that bomb and ran until I was tired and unable to run anymore. Then the bomb exploded in my hands while I sat on my couch. The result was me sitting there alone with charred facial hair, soot angling across my face and head with a stunned “what the fuck just happened” look on my face. I ran out of time. The wick needed to react with the powders inside of the capsule and in my panic I neglected to simply lick both fingers and put out the flame. I had never been handed an explosive before. I didn’t know what do to. I didn’t know how to react. I was not that military man who is cool under gunfire leading his men to their safety. I was the one who just stood there in obvious danger unable to make sense of my surroundings, ironically shell shocked. I simply didn’t have the experience. I had nothing to draw from for the courage or wherewithal to put that fuse out.
Maybe I needed it to explode. Maybe I needed the remaining loss that accompanied it. So I lost some friends, I kept a few though. I lost my job, but I needed a change. I kept that bomb with me, in my hands because I needed it to explode; I needed the pain, the loss, and the recovery that went with it. Scars do create a tougher skin while leaving small spaces to still allow others in. The ones that made it in prior to the scarring will always be there, others that made it in between the scars had a tough go at getting in, and some others hit those scars and just fell to the side. It is part of my post “being blown up” reality that not everyone will just get in the way they used to. And while this loss of time with my boys is another bomb I will carry I have move experience this time. I am becoming the grizzled veteran at pain and heartache and how to work with it.