Phil Nulman is gone.

 

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My dad died on August 13th, 2016.

I click through the shirtless photos of the gym-bodied men on facebook and instagram and I speak to them. I say out loud once per photo, “congratulations.” then immediately click to the next one, “congratulations. congratulations. you must be so proud. congratulations. oh wow. congratulations. must be nice. congrats.” My bitterness knows no boundaries and no one can stop me now. I am erratic, unpredictable, my feelings will spew violently in every direction like a broken boiling hose and I am entitled to this. I have congressional approval to scream “nazi jew cunt”  at the top of my lungs at the car that tried to cut into my lane. I have a hall pass to break into a flash-sob while pouring ginger ale and stop as quick as I started then go look at dicks on the internet as distraction. I am in the Delta Sky Club of people who can lie around and feel like utter ass-shit while never attempting anything productive and/or helpful to feel better. Fuck feeling better. Feeling like garbage is where I’ve built my teepee, it is where I’ve planted my crops, laid with men, ingested meds, cemented my feet, foraged for more trash emotions, eaten Dave’s Classic Triples from Wendy’s. I am pregnant with hate-bile and desolate wretch and despair. I am gone. I am now someone else. Someone writhing on the inside while ordering a Mexican coke at the cafe. Someone one follicle away from complete and total madness while discussing media with clueless peers at a party. Someone weeping with every movement. Someone broken and empty and tired of the voice in his head. Someone ill-equipped to get along in this world and too angry and sad to learn. Someone strong and trying. Someone desperate.

People come up to you. People you barely know. People you don’t know at all. They say they’re sorry to hear. Suddenly you’re having casual conversation with a stranger about the deepest most effectively horrible thing to ever happen to you. Your true life tragedy becomes trivialized, sanitized, shoved in a box and placed on the lowest shelf to talk about but not open up. They give you their condolences and you wish you knew what they were. Can you buy a sandwich with condolences? I’ll take all of your condolences if so. They shake their heads and scrunch their faces and try to understand but they can’t unless they know. You’ll find that now, when talking to someone that doesn’t know, there is a distance that wasn’t there before. You’ve reached somewhere new, deeper, stranger, but they are still on the Earth’s surface trying to lighten the mood.

You are still funny. You are still a good time. You are still hungry. You are still horny. You are still you. But you carry something with you now. The knowledge that you will now have to live your entire life and he won’t be there for any of it. He is gone. Gone gone, for real gone, like actually, physically, totally never here or anywhere again. They say that as cheesy as it sounds, “He will be with you forever.” You cringe at every saccharine cliche but this one you want to believe. This one you MUST believe or the darkness will envelop you and his absence will never turn bearable.

You go to the grocery store. You do your laundry. You go to parties. You go to bars. You drive your car. You go for a jog. You remember your father is dead. A grapefruit-sized ball of itchy oxygen thrusts up through your insides and lodges itself firmly in your throat. You shakily breathe in and out, catching your breath like an asthmatic child who fell down. You go to the post office. You get ice cream. You pay your bills. You go to sleep. You wake up. You brush your teeth. You look in the mirror. Your dad is still dead. You shower. You towel off. You get dressed. You drive your car. You live your life. And then you realize, living is to keep walking. Walking and walking across the canyon while others suddenly and gradually fall away, into the abyss, but you just keep walking. The more people fall, the more you accept that the walk is the walk and you can’t stop to stare into the void, screaming for the fallen for too long without losing sight of your own unique walk. You continue while others drift in and out until one day you will be the one who falls and then the others will keep walking and you’ll just be another one of their stories of a guy they knew who fell off the path that everyone walks. And you’re fine with it? You don’t know. No one knows.

You can’t find a conclusion. You can’t wrap anything in a bow and present it as a lesson you’ve learned through the horror. You only have feelings. So many thrashing feelings. You realize you’ve been disassociating. I come back into myself. I am jarred into the present. I am a human being. I am alive. I had forgotten.

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