Thanks Dad

During my workshop yesterday, one of my friends told me that being a reliable narrator was critical to my story. A friend from my youth, she loves me dearly. Like many others, she always saw something in me that I never saw in myself. I suppose this is why friends are important. They are mirrors for us, if we are mirrors for them. One of my newer friends explained to me what a reliable narrator was.

To break a literary fourth wall, I have a story to tell and I need to lose words. I also care about your education so look it up. It’s good to learn new things.

A reliable narrator would say that his family suffered post traumatic stress disorder from the time he was five. He would tell you that he was the reason for that, honestly and without shame. I was trapped in this ever reinforcing cycle of shame, hate and regret. I punished people who loved me. They never understood why. Honestly, neither did I. So, I started to wonder if I was an unreliable narrator.

The unreliability of a 13 year old boy as a narrator, trapped in the life of a reliable 62 year old man, is a juxtoposition that makes me pause. I was raped by a music teacher who was a father figure when I was 13. I have come to learn that I am still trapped there emotionally. Maybe it is an excuse to not dig deeper into my personal experiences. A reliable narrator would say, this type of thinking leads to writer’s block.

I set out to write a letter to my son who killed himself. I wound up writing a story about me. Shame killed my future. My son took his life. The book evolved into a letter of apology. An apology to my other son, who is still alive.

My sister asked me for years to write a letter. Clearly, writing a book was not what she had intended. At this moment as I am listening to her pain, I am 5 years old. I am watching my mother’s marriage to my father, asking my grandmother who that man is. The 8mm tape that was destroyed. Never seen again. Honestly, I think they would have been better off if I had never been born. A reliable narrator would say, this type of thinking could lead to thoughts of suicide.

I never think of suicide, this is irony.

The family of my youth are right. I know that family will always be there for me. They deserve to be left alone and to heal.

My 8 year old daughter is having issues with being socially awkward. Her father never speaks to anyone in the world unless it is through technology. So, I made a decision last night.

I told my child a story, until she fell asleep. I have not told a child a story in that way, since Anthony was five. I am a father, musician, artist, teacher and quite an amazing technology guru. I am an auto-didact who picks up things quickly. I picked up on my kid last night. I have made a comfortable living in the technology field. I look at people when they say they don’t understand. I reply with, “I know you don’t”, and walk away to get coffee. This morning, I was not a drug-addict, a crazy Army Vet or a criminal. I opened my mouth and started talking to kids again.

“What is your favorite special? Art, oh. Music, oh. Technology? Kayleigh and I write Roblox games”.

The kids started to gather around. I actually have a semi-famous Roblox game that I wrote with my daughter. I completed that during my two years in bed, in grief. I did it because my son Anthony and I always dreamed about doing it. I wanted to share that dream with my daughter. I tell them the name of the game, and more kids start to gather. I ask Kay what her favorite game we wrote is. Her strong, clear voice that I only hear at home pipes up with the answer. The kids start asking Kay questions and she ran off with them when the doors opened.

My whole life and future turned around and looked at me. She paused and ran into me with a huge hug. She whispers “Thanks Dad!”.

Honestly, I think that is as reliable as I need to get.