Love and fear can co-exist beyond a simple fear of loss. I fear most the future with Robert, I fear it every day. Maybe it's so many years of living with the unknown--anxiety is all about the unknown and the anticipation of it. And that's why so many years ago I chose never to think more than a few months ahead.
But that strategy can cause trouble, too. Never consulting a map results in discovery as well as that sudden surge of--something--eyes open in an unfamiliar land. Without warning, there you are where you never intended to be.
Not thinking ahead becomes a survival strategy that can bring you uncomfortably close to the edge of living, as though Columbus' critics were right: the world is flat and you can sail right off its surface.
This "transition to adulthood" that begins in about three months feels so artificial. Here we are at the border. Looking back, I see a lot of love--every good memory comes to the fore of outings, vacations, the past echoing and expanding. Freeing. Yes, a sense of the past can be liberating.
The future not so much. One box opening into another without end of opening. Long ago, moving forward with Robert meant hitting one check point after another--imposed boundaries and borders of politics and bureaucracy. Sometimes medicine, but less so the science of medicine and more its aphorisms about neurological progress, states of being that may or may not occur in actuality.
These borders were easy to ignore. Drive past the signposts, the warnings. Everything was pretend. The adulthood business has material consequences, now that we have a child in need of skilled nursing care, 24 hours of it. Unlike the past, in which every episode of it had a hatch to an unexpected joy or freedom of one kind or another, this future feels boxed-in, like perpetual winter trapping me inside my house. Panic? Well, yes.
I fear most the sensation of perpetual caregiving without escape--the sensation of being in service to perpetual need, the material limitations of state supports, the focused reality of state gatekeeping locking me in and letting me go and making me return.
This is different from fearing my own child, whom I love. He is a small gorgeous personality inside a Rube Goldberg machine, all of its mechanics inherently necessary each to each, running each is necessary, running the whole is necessary, but the machine is self-contained. So you might say the whole is unnecessary, but then again, you might look at all those moving parts and see an intricate beauty or obsession or perfection. What to make of this? Probably each of us builds that rube machine, the meaning of each existence a series of mechanical pieces and moving parts in harmony that keeps the omnipresent possibilities of uncontrollable change at bay.
While I'm typing this, Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" plays on a track in my mind with its nearly circular guitar chords, several looping measures leading back to the exact same note and beginning again. More or less, the lyrics suggest that The End (yes, that big one) is only another beginning. Don't fear it. Love of two is one. Or, all our times have come / here but now they're gone.
Only a visual riff off this discomfiting adolescent anthem, but the image of the past furling open like a cape behind me, and if I should hesitate or stop or falter, the cape--those memories--would billow forward, enfolding me.