I’m having adp issues. Not the kind where payroll and timesheets are involved, but the Avoid, Deny, Procrastinate kind.
I want to avoid calling my mother. I want to deny my cousin’s death. I want to procrastinate writing his mother. I don’t want the details of how he died and yet I think about it constantly. I don’t want anyone to tell me I Told You So where he is concerned.
D was a trouble-maker. From the day he was born he was born to raise hell. My dad used to say D came out sideways just to piss off his mom. I think that might be true. She’s been mad ever since. I never understood what made my cousin tick. I know that he lived on an edge only he could comprehend. As a result people gave up on him, people walked away. Including me.
I think back to all the times I failed him and I wonder if I could have made a difference if I had just listened more, been there more, instead of turning my face away from his situation; closing my eyes to his problems. When he was in prison we wrote. We did. Often. The envelopes his letters came in embarrassed me, his obvious incarceration shamed me. I’d burn everything in the bathroom and flush the ashes down the toilet. Later, when he was a free man and had paid his debt to society he wanted to break parole to see me. Hitchhike across hundred of miles on his thumb and good looks. I called his parole officer and ratted him out, complicating his plans. I don’t know which I was more afraid of, something happening to him along the way…or just him. Everyone said I did the right thing. At my wedding I warned my friends about him. My mind was telling me to stay clear. He paced my reception like caged wolf; like the wolves his owned in his back yard. Tough guy on a short leash. On my first trip to Vegas I didn’t try to see him even though I was staying in “his” tough town. I made some excuse about wanting to see some silly sculptures and frivolous fountains. All hail Caesar’s palace!
I called him my favorite cousin. And yet, as his cousin I did him no favors. When it’s all said and done, when I turn off the light and shut my eyes I know this. In the deep dark I failed him.