Infectious poison. Tragedy, pain, violation. Swirling in a vacuum. Scabbed over within our wounds. Prisoners to the ruins of our beings. Shallow and hollow within the torment. Trying to rid ourselves of pain. Wearing them like tattoos on our heart and soul. They remain. Scars.
Zahn believed ridding ourselves of life’s wounds, required facing them head on. Feeling the pain, going through the pain. Even if enduring more scars brought healing. Medications didn’t work. Therapy didn’t work. Just get over it was a farce. Really only Band-Aids on top of the oozing infection of pain that continually cried out to be severed. He knew intuitively everyone was wrong. He knew every session only squeezed a drop of the poison. Years of denial and self-blame only scabbed over the depths of his scars, as if yesterday, he was an innocent six-year-old boy, catapulted into horror. Images in fragmented pieces left bleeding within him. No one cared. He knew death without dying. Death would have been a reward.
He paid the co-pay at the front desk and drove home. No progress. Another waste of time. Thirty years since it happened. Still with him. Everyday. Everywhere. Nothing seemed to ease his disruptions of emotional bankruptcy.
He was brilliant. A well-known architect. He had his own business. Fancy car. Plenty of lovely ladies along the way. None of which satisfied him enough get passed dinner. Perfect suburbia home. No kids. He was his own man. Acquaintances only he had. A self-made prisoner. He worked out religiously leaving his frustration and stress on the treadmill. Cardio released enough tension to relax him just not enough to sleep. He mixed his protein drink and delved into his work escaping all human connection as he logged into his e-mails. It was easier. Never requiring conversation.
He typed up the specs for the new building that would soon become the community YMCA. He anally checked over all the specifications making sure they were perfect. Perfection was a must. Hundreds of e-mails in his inbox, he scrolled and deleted. Quickly glancing through what was usually junk, an urgent tab caught his eye as he checked his inbox again. The address of the sender didn’t seem familiar. It wasn’t from an existing contact list. Intuition nagged him to open it. He was reluctant. It could be a virus. His gut pushed him to open it. Mother. How did she get his e-mail? Twenty years since they saw or communicated with each other. What did she want? Should he reply? Why now? Does he even care anymore? Money. Must be money. What else? His curiosity began to rise as the suspicion passed. It read: Dear Zahn, I know it has been a long time. I got your e-mail off your corporate web-site. First, I’m sorry for what happened. I’m home now. I thought perhaps we could talk. Come home. Love, mom
The YMCA was approved for construction. Building permits secured. The ground-breaking ceremony was on schedule. Months and months of tedious work, countless meetings and all-nighters, now finally, his dreams were coming to fruition. He finished the last of his phone calls before heading to therapy. Dr. Bednotto recommended extra sessions. He seemed to be the best so far, despite feeling like the extra session wasn’t going to help. None my previous therapists suggested more than once a week but I’ll humor the psycho, I thought to myself. Probably just wants the extra co-pay. I was surviving with the shallow surface routine without being vulnerable, really just denial. Eenie meenie miney mo, as my fingers landed on the doc’s number in my insurance catalog that landed me in Dr. Bednotto’s office. I had to talk. Raw, real, exposed if I was going to get anywhere especially with my upcoming trip home.
I smoothly and very calculating discussed the usual. Talking somehow felt different. A calm engulfed me. Trust grew as I spoke. It felt like I was having one of those out of body experiences as I confronted my demons one by one. Nakedly, I was leaving my soul on the office floor. Dr. Bednotto jotting a few notes. There was a very mysterious gentle connection. Every ounce of venomous poison was rising to the top. I could feel warm. Was this what healing felt like? Dr. Bednotto pulled his chair up close putting his pen down as I concluded my story of destruction. At a quick glimpse, I thought I saw a tear in his eye. I waited for his brilliant analogy for my upcoming trip. He gave me three words to repeat. They were worth more than anything else I could ever possess. Only I didn’t realize it just yet. No fancy babble like I had heard before only “Go and forgive.”
Dr. Bednotto didn’t charge me a co-pay. Stuck in a vortex of a phenomenal awareness even for him with all his smarts. Raw became real for the two of us. I left the office feeling hopeful. Starving from emotional drain, I needed to eat. I chopped up a chicken salad but it didn’t satisfy. I sank into bed weightless somehow like a noose had been untied. I was now sure I needed to go home. I replied to mom’s e-mail before going to sleep. Mom: I will be flying home within the next few days. Will let you know my flight arrangements. Zahn Tomorrow would be a new beginning.
The next few days were hectic. I found myself disappointed mom hadn’t replied. I managed to clear a few days in my schedule and set-up my travel itinerary with Delta. I purchased some toiletries. Must haves I knew mom would not have. I wondered about each person I saw along my shopping excursion. Who’s ill? Who’s poor? Who’s rich? Who each person is among the clusters of shoppers. Each life carrying an untold story. Each life bearing its own unique scar. We all have them regardless of our attempts at denial. I finished up my last minute purchases and sent out my final e-mail. Sleep would need some assistance tonight from a couple of sleeping pills. I knew what I was about to embark on would need my utmost strength physically and emotionally. Mom: I will arrive tomorrow @ LAX. Here is the flight itinerary: Departing JFK 7:30 a.m. Flight 423 Arriving LAX @ 10:30 a.m. Zahn
The limo arrived promptly. The security gate check-in didn’t take long. I sat and waited for the call to board as I charged my phone and checked my inbox for a reply. Nothing. I boarded my flight. Settling into a restful trance. The take-off was smooth. I was going home. It felt more like a trip to a foreign unknown place. I reclined my chair, closed my eyes and drifted into my memories. All I could hear was Go and Forgive.
The pilot announced our decent into LAX. Last time I was in Los Angeles; it was for an architectural meeting with a couple of influential buyers. They were purchasing a commercial property that needed excessive expansion. I drew up the plans and oversaw the project.
I grabbed my carry-on. Arrived at the rental car desk. Requesting a Toyota Prius. I got on US101. I hated the freeway. I passed a few exits and let myself take in the sights. The sun and beauty of the hills and mountain tops were refreshing. A sense of homesickness crept in for the first time. Signaling for Exit 83, Bates Road, inside anxiety swelled. The neighborhood had changed somewhat. Modern. Cleaner. I slowly observed each block with childhood memories flashing and bursting like pop-up ads added to my anxiousness. There it is, Rocket Road. I turned down my street. There was the same dingy dirty tan stucco burnt ceramic roof house number 7 showing years of neglect. Screen door still hanging by one rusty hinge there it was. Home.
Entering the dark foyer, a nurse introduced herself and explained mom’s condition had left her with maybe only moments. She was the night hospice nurse assigned for the next few days if needed that long. I kissed mom’s forehead and sat next to her bed holding her boney frail hand. I hoped and prayed for a chance to hear her voice again.
The sun was peeking through the dust lined mini-blinds. The morning nurse was changing mom’s morphine bag. I looked for any sign of movement still sitting by her side for four more days until she barely opened her eyes. Her last words were “Please, forgive me” while struggling to breath. I managed to say I loved her and forgave her too in her final moments. As she returned home with the angels, we both were set free.
Mom had spent twenty years in prison for stabbing her boyfriend to death leaving me behind. His abuse no longer remained. Forgiveness only left a scar.