All Of The Above

by Chris de Serres


We see him as having two heads.  One gazing into the past.  The other gazing into the future.  A third head, which never appears in popular depictions, watches the present.  When any conflict begins or ends, he presides.  Likewise he appears in entrances because they are beginnings and ends.  It seems so overwhelming a task, to see everything.

These days I feel like a watcher, gazing at my own past, present, and future.  The past is my father and his mortality.  He is closing my past.  The last conversations need to be had now, in a way I could always avoid before.  I’ve had to revisit my mother’s world.  She encompassed my existence once when I was a child.  She was everything.  She has held on tightly and refuses to let go of it.  The past.

I was reading an article about Obama, and the idea of leaving a clean desk.  These are Presidents who are able to leave as minimal a mess as possible for the incoming President-elect.  Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and George W. did not leave a clean desk.  My father is trying his best to clean up.  His concern for my mother runs high.  Where will she go?  What will she do when he is no longer there to take care of her?  So far, she resists any changes that would reveal that her world is changing.  He must die before she is able to gaze into the present.  She is mired in the past.  Clutching it tightly.

It’s how Christians do death.  They rail and rage against it.  There is no peace in it.  An explosion is necessary for my mother to move anywhere.  A messy desk.

The past is painful.  He created these open loops of abuse, fear, anxiety, abandonment, and anger.  I don’t know if he’s capable of closing them.  I don’t think so.  I don’t know if answers can be found in dying moments.  There are things fathers just can’t give.  No matter how much we want or need them.

If only past, present, and future were clearly defined in death.  They are not.  There is the in-between.  The hovering.  No going forward.  No retreating.  Not even a present.  It’s just all of the above occurring together.  It’s chaos.  A liminal purgatory of grayness.  Where does one gaze in such circumstances?