Dear Jackson,

May 12, 2010

The longest thesis statement ever

Filed under: Life lessons, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — aJOHNymous @ 3:40 pm

There’s a certain scene in quite a few movies where one character will inadvertently brush up against, or shake the hand of, or just come into some form of general contact with some random, inconsequential person and move on. Often times, it’s a forgotten incident or one that is completely glossed over as it happens. And then—the callback scene arrives. Our original character has a second run in with this other mysterious character and we [the viewers] will eventually recognize the previous scene as a foreshadowing of events to come.

It can be as simple as scene 1 involving man 1 bumping into man 2 and apologizing. Both men continue on their way and the movie continues. 90 minutes later we arrive at scene 2 and find that man 1 is now revealed as the mysterious antagonist of the entire plot and man 1 must save the day. What a revelation! These two characters have already met! Isn’t that CRAZY?

Well, no—it’s actually not crazy. I’ve seen these same scenes played out hundreds of times before in other movies. For a seasoned cinephile such as myself, it is usually easy to realize these scenes for what they are and immediately I think, “We’re definitely going to see that guy again”.

So what am I trying to get at here?

Well, for the past few months, I feel like I’ve been living in one of these scenes of foreshadowing. I have this nagging feeling that I’ve only just recently met the antagonist of my story. To put it more bluntly: I feel like I’ve met the one who will eventually kill me. This story does not have a happy ending. This protagonist dies.

Ah, the great tragedy that is life: none of us can escape and none of us gets out alive. Our stories have all ended before they’ve even begun. But let’s dispense with the convoluted metaphors and analogies, shall we?

I’m sick. I have been for a while now. I have an inflammatory bowel disease called Ulcerative Colitis. The symptoms can be pretty awful at times, as I’m sure you’ll grow up understanding and seeing firsthand. That said, there is good news for people who suffer from UC: life expectancy is not shortened and it won’t directly lead me to a premature death. But like all good news in life, bad news can’t be too far behind.

Having UC dramatically increases my chances of getting colon cancer, prostate cancer, and possibly other more serious forms of cancer. Couple that with the fact that I had an undescended testicle when I was a child and I am now also at high risk for testicular cancer.

This is a bitter pill to swallow when you’re in your mid-twenties. Facing one’s own mortality is tough to do. I know the odds are in my favor, but there’s always that nagging itch that I just can’t scratch whenever I wake up and feel a new pain somewhere. I already have an absolutely irrational fear of death. I don’t need all of these potential scares hanging over my head every day. It doesn’t help my already unstable frame of mind. The increased cancer risks have really brought out my inner-hypochondriac. Like I mentioned previously; in my messed up head, every new pain is a new cancer symptom. It’s completely and utterly ridiculous, but I can’t turn off those thoughts. They’re inescapable. I just can’t shake that nagging feeling that while I may be relatively healthy now, the big C could sneak up on me right when I least expect it.

This is my antagonist.

This is the man I’ve only recently bumped into on the street, accepted an apology from, and watched walk away.

This is that sixth sense telling me that perhaps I’ll see that man again somewhere down the line.

This is my scene of foreshadowing.

I have seen the face of my killer. I know he’s there. Plotting. Scheming. Lurking. Waiting to get the jump on me when I least expect it. I’m sure of it.

***

I once heard a story about a woman who had recently lost her husband and how hard it was for her to deal with his death. In order to try and cope with her loss, she’d taken to cleaning up their house and throwing away anything that she didn’t need. She just wanted to stay busy and occupy her mind. A few days after she’d started, she stumbled onto a beach ball and erupted into sobs. You see, a few days before her husband had died, he’d blown up a beach ball for the two of them to take the beach. This ball contained his air, from his lungs. For the next few months, whenever the woman found herself terribly missing her husband, she would take a small breath from the air inside the ball—just to be close to her husband. Through breathing his air, she was able to keep him with her but it also made it easier to let him go as the air slowly left the balloon until it was eventually empty.

That’s really what all of this is about.

These letters are my beach ball. These words are my air. Every time you read these words, you gain entrance into my heart and soul. Feel the words as they meet your eyes, roll across your tongue, and enter your mind. Know that these same exact words once passed from my brain, over my tongue, through my fingers, onto this page, and into my eyes. Feel that connection.

If I were to die tomorrow, you’d be able to look at these letters and know that I existed. I was here. I was alive. I breathed the same air that you breathe today. You’d see that I too had hopes, dreams, and fears. Most of all you’d be able to see that I loved you with every ounce of my being.

Ridiculous, irrational, crazy—I know. I want to laugh at me too. My fear of death is one of the issues I’m hoping I’ll be able to conquer through therapy. I suppose if I am successful then you really don’t need to know any of this, but I feel like you should know because these are your father’s intimate thoughts. If anything should ever happen to me, it’s important to me for you to know who I was, truly, on the inside. You’re my son. You deserve to know me. My biggest fear is leaving you prematurely, before you have a chance to get to know me and vice versa.

Sometimes I feel like if I don’t write my thoughts down, I’ll just be forgotten when I’m gone. I don’t know. Perhaps one day you’ll do the same for your children. I hope that you do. Hell, maybe these words will even be passed to my grandchildren and great grandchildren. Dare to dream, I suppose. No one else did this for me so I guess I’m trying to start a new tradition: immortality through the written word.

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