# # Not But A Stillness

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

Not But A Stillness

A couple of weeks or so ago I started a short writing project for this blog.

At first it was intended as just a single post, then it grew into something that, out of kindness to my hapless readers, I would have cut into separate parts but in the end I realized I shouldn’t post at all.

It is about a dog that was once a very strong presence in my life but the more I wrote about him, the more I realized that the dog was dead – along the boy who loved him.

One of the most wrenching things in my life was the loss of my childhood home. I had an illusion as a young boy that I could end up inheriting it and, around the age of 8, told my father of this dream as we stood in our driveway, surveying our front yard. He was touched by what I said, as my father all too rarely was, and agreed to try and make that happen for me.

But my parents divorced and the land was sold, along with the dogs we buried there, the dreams I had there – and who I was there.

For years after the divorce I could not think too long or too deep about that house, that land, without becoming terribly depressed -close to tears, truth be told. I was thrilled that my parents were divorced, had pushed for it in fact, but it had never occurred to me that I’d lose my one, true home as a consequence.

As the years have passed, as a kind of therapy, I’ve made attempts to capture on the page some of what that house, those times, meant to me but have always failed to produce anything that came near to what I wanted to say. My insight was always too muddled, my vocabulary too small, my willingness to truly open myself to the wound non-existent – hamstrung by a deep sense of loss.

And so I gave up. I compartmentalized the problem, as I so rarely do, and said to myself: We’ll visit this later, when we’re stronger than it.

Years later, after a few successful short pieces here about my childhood, I felt it time to move past the funny and into more serious territory, to tap not just the laughter of that time but something deeper.

And so it was with some surprise that, when I sat down to chronicle that one dog, the single most amazing animal I have ever known, I produced a dry recitation that turned him from a magnificent personality into some mutt who had a few interesting scrapes.

The worst part of the experience was that, in the past, the inability to touch the important parts of my childhood were due to an immense welling of the emotional; the sense that, if I ever pulled my thumb out of that hole, the resulting torrent of emotions would waste me.

This time around, it was more like breaking into a long abandoned shed: upon finally prying that last piece of wood from the boarded-up window, I looked in and saw … nothing.

The results of my writing produced not but a stillness; no beating heart, just dusty whispers. The deeper memories, those that spoke of why this dog was so important, the true sense of his character, were gone, reduced to generalizations and superlatives that couldn’t mask my inability to peer once again into his amazing, brown eyes.

I realized that this rot, born of a long harbored yet forcefully ignored sadness, has spread to sap the core of the vitality of not just my most valued childhood memories but a long held conception of my self -and what little I am left with won’t even burn.

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2 Responses to “Not But A Stillness”

  1. KJT says:

    Achingly honest… sad.

    “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”
    (Norman Cousins)

    Bounce back. Overcome. Return.

    We’ve got your back…

  2. redwithenvy says:

    there are a lot of tough things i have wanted to write about, but they end up sometimes sounding like you described. these wonderful memories that don’t hold their lustre when put into paragraphs.

    but i think that’s the universe’s way of telling us that those stories stay sweeter when they stay within us.

    some stories get better each time they are told, and others lose their magic. nothing has happened to yours, it just wants to stay inside you.

    then again, what do i know.

    keep writing, i’ll keep reading.

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