Forced Witness (Part Six)

04:57 Download
Paisley Yankolovich
From the 2017 CD, Forced Witness


It was finally time pack up all of my son’s belongings. I walked into his bedroom, the room he left in disarray when he went off to college and found that most of his stuff was already in bags. He had very little furniture as he was growing away quickly from staying at my house when he returned on break-let alone live here. I was acting out a scenario I’ve seen in countless films. But unlike the movies, nothing was folded neatly and no sweet was music playing in the background. It was just stuff. A useless, mostly unwashed, lifeless collection discarded by a young man upon his death. I placed his bed in the alley hoping someone would collect it and use it. No such luck. Two weeks later when I managed to get it in into the communal dumpster I noticed that it was covered in cat pee.


People ask me if I’m sleeping ok and I’m tempted to laugh. Even a peaceful sleep is a four to six hour trip into denial that ends with the sudden awareness of a rude awakening.  But most of my nights are spent in nightmares or worse, the busy dreams. There was one where my son was playing drums, pounding and pounding, as if to say, “Pay attention to me!” All night long! I woke up drenched in sweat, out of breath, and exhausted only to fall back to sleep and in my next dream jump in front of a moving train. Who wants to sleep if this is what there is to look forward to only to wake up to something even worse?


Where there once was a family, I now have “remaining” children. Where there once was the unpredictability of phone calls, texts, visits, good news, bad news, events, life, there’s now a handful of survivors clinging together for dear life, knowing that another shoe can fall any time. Because now we all know: No one is safe. No one is “protected.” Not really. Not completely. Not ever.


And then there’s the silence. For a season my phone was ringing off the hook and my email box full. My home was filled with sympathy cards, gifts, flowers, casseroles, heck, a lifetime supply of groceries, and people. People visiting, and people staying with me until it was time for everyone to go back to their lives. Now there’s nothing. Just me, my House Of Memories and the ghost of the person I was only a few short weeks ago, trapped in another dimension, trying to figure out what went wrong.


“It’s good to talk,” people will say and call it catharsis. But they’re wrong as no purging is happening here. Just regurgitating and recycling thoughts, feelings and outrages that have no beginning, end or purpose other than to tease and torment me with what was and what could have been. There’s no music in this, no rock and roll, no good beat that I to dance to, no happy ending. God has taken my greatest agony and turned it into the Theatre Of The Absurd that is now my life. Welcome to the freak show everybody! Tell all your friends and we’ll get this baby to Broadway!


Do I forgive God for allowing my life to turn out this way? For being his servant, his minister and still not being immune to tragedy. Of course! I knew all along there were no guarantees not even for me but the fact that I remain Christian after an event such as this may be the greatest testimony of all.  And I do testify. I testify that God gave me a beautiful son, a wonderful friend, and challenging shard of iron, a source of dreams when he was alive and a reservoir of nightmares now that he’s gone. Nightmares I will learn to treasure as sacred keepsakes of the dead. I’m grateful for the time I had with him but it simply wasn’t enough. I stood over my dead son and prayed that God would resurrect his lifeless body right then and there. And God said no. I miss him so much. I just want him back.




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