Waiting for a friend to die is a bitch.
My children are here for the Christmas holiday. My daughter made her airline reservations months ago and my son has brought his girlfriend here to finally meet his father. She seems so very young, but I am reminded that she is already a college graduate and he will graduate in a few months. Both of my children are young adults now, but at Christmas they revert to five-year-old versions of themselves from years past … and we play.
My new wife watches with amusement as her husband assumes a completely new persona. He is somehow able to laugh along with them at shared recollections and precious memories, as if he were a child himself. We are together once again to escape from the pressures of work and school and life. With them all here with me, the bitch is far more tolerable and for short periods of time… I forget her entirely.
We have a wonderful arsenal of weapons with which to keep the bitch at bay. We have a backlog of video games to play, that we only play on the occasion of their visits. On this trip we will strive to complete the “Dragon Age – Origins” expansion game, “Awakening”- so that we can finally move on to “Fall-out - New Vegas”. Meanwhile there are new games under the Christmas tree to add to the “play list” that they still don’t know anything about. One game my son has already mentioned to me, but I feigned ignorance. He will once again be amazed at my ability to select the games that he wants (but didn’t have time to play, out of all of the games that he does play in-between visits) without actually discussing it with him. We will all laugh loudly and make a great deal out of this before returning to the business of working the play list. Together we will beat that bitch back for a while.
My wife and my son's girl friend are not video game aficionados. They do not understand how such successful, intelligent, intellectual people can spend hours, days, weeks (if given the opportunity) engrossed in video worlds that bear little resemblance to reality. For me the answers are obvious and simple. First, I get to spend serious quality time with the two people that I truly love most in this world. (My wife understands this and she is not jealous. She is wise.) Second, and in some respects even more timely and relevant, the video designers of today are extraordinarily talented in creating fantasy worlds where cancer cannot actually kill my closest friend… slowly destroying the spark of life that made him someone special and precious to me.
In their infinite wisdom the developers have set it up so that when we die in video games, we are endowed with a reset button. Here, in this real world, we do not have a reset button, and so I must contend with this bitch.
After a week or so, my children will return to their daily lives in other states. We are always as close as Facebook or the iPhone these days, but without their presence I am at the mercy of the bitch. She actually gains strength and crawls up my spine when the telephone rings at an odd hour… or when I see a message from one of the appointed care-givers. Yesterday I caught myself becoming teary-eyed unexpectedly and I knew it was the bitch at work once again.
I’ve got a new wife and my children are here at home with me. We have video games, movies, the three-dimensional version of the Scrabble board game called “Up-words” and my son’s new girl friend. I've also got a ton of work waiting for me after the holiday. There are plenty of wonderful things with which to occupy my time. I’ve got some back-up for a while… so stand-down bitch.
Please… stand down.