Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sunshine and Shadows

  Image result for shadows

I have always thought that there are sunshine people and shadow people. Of course, we all contain some qualities of both but some of us lean far more toward one than the other. I've always been of the sun. I'm mostly fairly happy no matter what is going on. Even when life is hard, I find contentment in books and flowers and music and friends. I don't expect perfection and I'm never disappointed.

By contrast, my son was a shadow person. He could never find his way into the sunlight and I could never help him get there. Even as a little boy, he seemed not to have a strong survival instinct. He liked living on the edge and shrugged off risks, as if it didn't matter that much one way or the other. He was always reckless about taking chances.

He was once in a bad wreck. He and a friend hit a semi-trailer loaded down with steel, broadside. He was about 15 then. He told me he looked up and knew they were going to hit. He thought he was going to die but rather than being afraid, he was exhilarated, wondering what came next.

When you raise a child like John, you are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. He was the most daring when the kids all rode dirt bikes or  went "mudding" down at the river or jumped off bridges. He sky-dived and scuba-dived. Honestly, I figured the call I got would be Lisa telling me he'd crashed speeding on his motorcycle.

I remember telling him that if people had nine lives, like cats, I thought he had pressed his luck about as far as he could.

I don't exactly know how to describe what I mean about the shadows. He wasn't suicidal. It wasn't that John was never happy. He loved his wife. He loved traveling. He enjoyed carpentry and working on his truck. He liked spending time with his friends but still, the shadows always seemed to hover, receding sometimes but never quite disappearing.

He never found where he fit in. I think he always felt a little out of sync. He had a master's degree in Psychology but after a couple of jobs in that field, he abandoned it. He didn't think it had "integrity". He'd rather roof houses or build bookcases because you knew when you were doing something "true". That was important to him, probably more important than it should have been in a world that often demands compromise.

The Toxicology report isn't back yet so I don't know what chemical was the actual culprit in his death and I don't really care. The end result was the same. The detective asked me what I'd like to see happen and my answer was "nothing". I have no animosity toward the friend he was with (they'd been friends since they were all in elementary school). John was 46. He entered into whatever he did willingly. No one tied him down and forced him to ingest a substance.

He'd said he wanted to be cremated with no funeral, no viewing, no service, no obituary, so in the end, he drifted quietly from the world rather like one of his own shadows. I figure my Mom, who loved him more than anyone else, was there to meet him. At least, that's what I choose to believe.

So, I was shocked but not totally surprised when he died. I hope wherever he is now, the sun is shining.

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