October 25th 2014
December 26th 2014
January 28th 2015
October 25th, I keeled over.
The first in a series of cuts came a little past midnight on October 26th. My mother’s raspy voice came through the phone but the words didn’t make sense. My sister’s body discovered. All signs pointed to a suicide. The details of the scene would come out over the next few days as family used to holding grudges and remaining estranged passed tidbits to each other over Facebook and phone.
Wave after wave of emotion rolled in. Seas of deep sadness broke against shores of immense anger. My body felt numb, only to be replaced by a weakness that threatened to bring me to the floor. I made a phone call to my wife before going back to work. For six hours I went through the motions of being fine, as I tried to focus on getting my hands to do as I told them. It took everything to function those six hours.
Over the course of two weeks, my mother would bring up her wishes that I get in touch with my brother. Just to talk, she would say. I refused until she finally dropped the subject, understanding the stubbornness and pride runs too deep in our family. Not even death could shake us to put away past grievances and bury hatchets.
December 26th 2014, I fell to my knees.
My twin sons spent Christmas night at their grandparents. As we sat up watching a show on Netflix, we made it to bed early to lay there and count down the hours. The morning of December 26th brought us to the local hospital. The doctor told us to be there early and we spent the next hours waiting around for our turn to be brought into delivery.
With the flashback of the birth of my twins going through my mind, I missed my son’s birth as I fought with nurses not to touch me. Passing out in the delivery room had left me embarrassed, disoriented and angry. A security guard arrived to oversee me, as I tried to gain my senses from coming to on the cold floor. Don’t fucking touch me, I told everyone in the near vicinity as I complied with their instructions to exit the room and get fresh air.
Moments later, my son was brought to me, trumpeting his cries through the hospital room. Ezra Michael Underwood weighed eight pounds, four ounces. His arrival at 1:40 in the afternoon would not be the last time I missed a life event of his first year.
January 28th 2015 The final cut.
It had to be a dream. No one wakes up to the words their mother has suddenly passed away.
Looking down at my phone, missed notification after missed notification lit up the screen. Sister In Law, Aunt, numbers I never saved but recognized the area code for flashed across my phone. My mother was gone. Her health issues finally catching up to her, my words from a few weeks prior stung as they sunk in.
“I am just waiting for the call that she is dead.”
Said after a call from her latest hospital stint where she hallucinated seeing me. I hold on to the hope that the hallucination she saw of me was nicer than the real me and didn’t roll his eyes at mentions of things he didn’t want to talk about. I hold on to the fact she got to see me before she left this earth, even when I didn’t get to see her. As family does, we gathered. In Colorado I focused on my children. As I played with them, I shut everyone and everything out. We buried hatchets and promised rekindling.
The plane home, I told my wife it wouldn’t last. My family doesn’t keep in contact. We were raised to disappoint one another, not lean on each other. The family façade lasted until April, when one by one family who had spent months promising to attend the baptism of Ezra Michael Underwood found reasons not to make it. It isn’t anyone’s place to invalidate their reasons, it just fell into the category of ‘not surprising’. Where I filed most interactions with my family under.
For the better part of 2015 I wasn’t myself. Most didn’t see the spiral. The ones who did were quickly shut out. I spent late nights trying to purge the overwhelming emotions running through my body. I sat at my computer, sobbing and listening to the same songs on repeat. The songs you somehow always connect with an individual. I played the ones I connected to Kimberly and Christine on repeat. Late nights spent purging and trying to fill the immense sadness left days of not being there for Ezra. I couldn’t bring myself to father my son in the same capacity I fathered his brothers.
I couldn’t bring myself to do anything in the same capacity I had before the four month span sent me spiraling out of touch with my own reality.
In the face of adversity I crumbled. I spent a year pretending I held everything together while completely falling apart inside.
On the anniversary of my mother’s death I screamed until my throat was raw and bloody. I screamed until hoarse and cracking. Immense pain escaped my lips as I evicted it to the cold January night. My sister and my mother had been taken. The sadness I felt took my time with my son.
I decided to stop picking at scabs late at night and let my wounds begin to heal. Scars needed to form and I needed to move on. A year of trying to purge my sadness had left me more broken than ever. I decided enough laying there and succumbing to my wounds.
I picked my son up and began the journey towards picking myself up, making the conscientious decision to move past the loss of more than just my sister and my mother. The loss of myself. The loss of 2015. The loss of a year of being there for my son. It isn’t easy. Laying there not allowing scars to form as I tumbled into depression- that was the easy part.
It is easy to fall. The hard part is picking yourself up after a fall and continue the climb. That’s where I am now.
I am climbing. I am living. I am trying to heal.
Briton Underwood, better known as Punk Rock Papa, is a parent above all else. When he gets sick of being at their beck and call, he likes to escape to his page or site. He writes about any and everything he wants, but mainly about his twin boys or his newest addition- another boy. He also would like the world to know he has a beautiful wife, because the couch isn’t that comfy.