A Cruel Mathematical Symmetry

I am 36 years old.  My dad died when I was 18.  That means I have lived roughly as long on this earth without my dad as I did with him.  My brother died when I was 11.  Seven years later my dad died.  Seven years after that my sister died.  It has been 11 years since she died.  I have now gone roughly as long as I have ever gone in my life without losing an immediate family member.

That is one hell of a mathematical anomaly.

Should I be going through a midlife crisis?

Instead, as time grinds inexorably on toward 37, I feel fine.  I’ll feel better when the math goes back to being off a bit, but I feel fine.

I feel better that I knew that I could feel.  I don’t remember much before my brother died.  And after that I wasn’t right.  I wasn’t right as a teenager, and I sure as shit wasn’t right as a college student after my dad died.  I kinda thought I was getting my legs under me in my 20s and had’em kicked right back out from under me when my sister died.  So I wasn’t right in my 20s either.

But I hardly knew it.  It is only now that I’m not walking around in a semi-fugue state that I realize how much I was worn down under all of that.  How much it hobbled me in interacting with the world as a normal human being.

At some point I decided to do something crazy and it just kind of snowballed from there.  I changed professions twice, borrowed a couple hundred thousand dollars to go back to school, and moved halfway across the country five times.  I got married, got a dog, made a tiny human being, and bought a house (twice).  I clear a little path to the fire hydrant in front of my house when the snow starts to get deep.  You know what?  It turns out there is real joy in embracing those bourgeois values that those trust fund kids at elite private universities so bitterly mock.

I do kinda feel bad about it.  I did a lot of bad shit and a lot of stupid shit and a lot of bad, stupid shit.  I kinda don’t feel bad about it.  A lot of bad, stupid shit happened to me.  I feel like I’ve been damned lucky.  I have.  I feel like I’ve worked damned hard for what I have.  I have.  I feel like as a sinner I deserved every bad thing that happened to me and who has no business complaining about it.  I still do (complain).  I feel like as a child of God every good thing that happens is a gift and I have no business being ungrateful.  I still frequently am (ungrateful).

So no mid-life crisis.  Besides, I can’t afford it.  I’ve got a mortgage to pay, retirement to save for, a college fund to fill, and a mom to help out.

8 thoughts on “A Cruel Mathematical Symmetry

    1. One thing I always feel bad about is that I never know what to say when I see other people going through stuff (including you). Knowing how cruel it can be, how unique grief always is, how hollow so many words ring…just leaves me too intimidated to reach out. And I deeply, deeply regret that.

      We’re talking about trying to get down your way at some point with the baby to see family and friends. I will let you know when we do.


  1. I’m so sorry mate. Grief is a funny thing. Some people need words of support while others don’t want them at all. I was angry when my dad passed but I’m not anymore. At the end of the day, these things grind you and shape you and make you appreciate all the little things that make up daily life.

    Still, it’s not easy. It’s damn hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kim Wood

    I smile big reading this. After growing up with Julie, I know the loss you have experienced of losing each family member, I loved each of them. You are an amazing human, who has made your mom insanely proud. You have been through more than any human should in such a short time, and have turned out way better than your scars would normally allow. Great words. I know you are a great dad now too.

    Liked by 1 person

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