Thomas Wictor

Mom, I’m really pissed off at you

Mom, I’m really pissed off at you

I’m very angry at you for killing yourself, Mom. Sad-angry, not I’ll-smash-your-face angry. So I’m going to do what you always said when you got upset: “I want to write a letter to somebody!”

Here’s my letter to you.

Dear CeeCee:

You died on October 13, 2013, after nine months of refusing to eat. Since you got no protein, you died of cardiac arrest because you developed cachexia. Your heart was a muscle, and it got too weak to work. Tim warned you as your weight dropped that this would happen, and you held him at bay by saying the following things:

“That’s not going to happen!”

“Don’t nag me.”

“Do you think I’m not smart enough to know how to take care of myself?”

“Well, then just put me away somewhere, since I’m crazy and such a bother to you!”

That last one was really dirty pool. You knew that since you were our mother, we wouldn’t go beyond a certain point with you. But to make the accusation that trying to save your life meant that we thought you were crazy? You said it to shut us up. And it worked.

Tim and I knew full well that you had a difficult life. Things didn’t turn out the way you wanted or expected. It’s been the same for Tim and me. Didn’t you remember all the conversations we had after I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease on October 7, 2011? I explained to you how all my anger fell way in an instant. I became grateful for what I had, instead of angry about what I’d lost or how things had turned out.

You never asked why rage dominated my life. I understand perfectly why you couldn’t. But after Dad died and your own life was at stake, none of that mattered anymore. Why couldn’t you see that? Tim and I told you over and over that the perfect remedy for all of us was for you to beat the cancer—which you did—and then live as many years as you could without the stress and guilt that were at the root of your terrible choices.

Were you afraid that at some point Tim and I would accuse you of something? We wouldn’t have done that. Didn’t you know us well enough to understand that we’d never do anything to “get back” at you or punish you? You saw how Tim and I cared for Ed. When he was demolishing his room, yelling about phantom catheters, seeing squirrel highways, and running around pantsless and screaming, did we show even the slightest impatience or resentment?

You got upset at me for taking part in Dad’s Last Rites and forgiving him. Why? Was it the simple acknowledgment that we were a troubled family that made you angry at me? What about those hundreds of conversations you and I had late at night in the last two years of your life, in which you acknowledged that we were a troubled family? Was it the fact that I involved an outside party, the chaplain at Dad’s hospice?

Well, she’s a chaplain! Her job is to ease the suffering of the dying. To do so I had to tell her about Dad. She had to ask him specific questions so that he would understand that his actions were known. He couldn’t hide them anymore. But he was on the verge of death! Did you and Dad think that as long as we continued never addressing these issues, they wouldn’t exist? Dad went crazy because he thought he was going to hell. The only way to assure him that it was safe for him to die was to acknowledge his sins in plain English and give him the chance to repent.

You acted as if it were the weirdest, most uncalled-for stunt I’d ever pulled. Forgiving my father to ease his suffering was…wrong? Really? And you knew that I’ve felt like a clown my whole life. Didn’t it occur to you that forgiving Dad was the hardest thing I’ve ever done? Why did you have to make me feel foolish for doing it? Little Tommy Ketchup Face, up to his old tricks again.

When Dad was lying there raving and squirming, you said you were embarrassed, and you walked out of the room. I not only stayed, I ate all my anger and sincerely forgave him so that he could die in peace. Maybe I deserved acknowledgement that this entirely unselfish act—a crucial turning point—was a bit more merciful than laughing and saying, “Hear that creaking sound, Dad? That’s the trapdoor opening to drop you into HELL!” Lots of frauds and cretins have criticized me for forgiving Dad, but I didn’t expect my own mother to pelt me with rotten tomatoes.

What did you want from us? You wouldn’t let us help, you forced us to watch you slowly die, and then behind your back we had to agree with the doctors to not do chest compressions because that would’ve broken your ribs and punctured your lungs. You and Dad maintained your iron refusal to face reality right up until the moment you both went into your comas. Tim and I had to make decisions that mean we’re legally and morally responsible for your manner of dying.

With your suicides you and Dad caused Tim and me such damage that I don’t know if we’ll ever recover. It’s impossible for me to try and fix this stupid Website right now because I can’t stop thinking of you and your horrible death. We both know that poor Dad was programmed to do what he did; all his family ever talked about was illness, death, and damnation. Since you died I’ve been looking through all your photos, and in every shot of Dad as a baby, he looks afraid.

I understand his death. Yours stumps me in a certain way. I get that you were angry at pretty much everything; the solution was to recover and then live. You asked me about “Carmen” over and over and over. Didn’t any of that rub off on you?

Tim and I will talk about this until our own dying days. We simply can’t grasp it. We’re still stunned. A few total morons have sent me funny videos to try and “cheer me up.” I know you’d laugh at that. They think I’m eight, and watching cat videos will make me go, “Ha-ha-ha! Mom and Dad committed suicide, but after watching that cat fall in the bathtub, I’m okay with it!”

Almost everyone is like you and Dad. They can’t talk about death. That means they’re all headed for real trouble. To be blunt, Mom, I just have no patience for people like you anymore. It’s pretty amazing: I don’t listen to the radio or watch TV, and I skip over most news stories on the Internet. The world is a hamster wheel spinning round and round. I want to say to everyone, “Sure, go ahead. Get drunk. Get high. Eat gourmet food. Go on Twitter and spew out your venom against Republicans and Democrats. At the end of it all is the bed in the hospice.”

There’s so much I want to tell you. Scott Thunes is going to do a version of “When the Levee Breaks” to put on your memorial. I’m running into completely hilarious problems with publishing Volumes Two and Three of the Ghosts Trilogy. My perpetual trevail is too stupid to even get angry about. I mean, when publishing companies insert their own errors into your books, what can you say? We’re in the Golden Age of Slack-Jawed Ineptitude. I plan to just laugh.

Here’s the thing, though: They’re all on the same track as you and Dad. When companies refuse to admit to problems, they’re going to end up in urns. It’s the same with politics. You and Dad were actually symbolic of what’s happening nationwide if not globally. And I just can’t grasp that. Did you really think that at the age of eighty-five, suffering from lung and stage-four peritoneal cancer, you could refuse to eat for nine months and get away with it?

But you died panicked and crying. Like Dad, you did everything you could to engineer the precise outcome you feared the most. It’ll haunt me forever. What was the point? I can’t go to your funeral because the rotational vertigo is back, and besides, I can’t trust my mouth. Almost none of the bastards who’ll be at your service bothered to visit or call you in the hospital or nursing home.

Yesterday Tim and I talked about how Leslie Ditto just released prints of her painting Mad Hatter. We thought it would’ve been funny to send the You-Know-Whos one of those prints for use in the you-know-what that we canceled.

MadHatter

Can you imagine the outrage?

Well, I hope I start feeling alive soon. I’ve got radio interviews scheduled, and people keep telling me how blown away they are by my writing. I’ll persevere.

When we meet again, see if you can tell me what was going on inside your head. Maybe you’ll just say, “What was I thinking?” and we’ll have a good laugh.

“Remember that time you committed suicide, Mom? I was all, like, ‘Gi-yah, what’s up her butt?’ And you were, like, ‘Don’t nag me! Don’t criticize me! Whoops, I’m dead!’ Those were the days, huh, Mom? Criminy!”

If you run into Dad over there, and he’s not crazy anymore, slap his face for me and tell him what an inexcusable doofus he was for having an affair. Looking at pictures of you, I’m flabbergasted. One of the reasons you killed yourself was that you had no self-esteem. Well, you watched TV and saw those hideous young and not-so-young women with their Botox, fillers, veneers, implants, and all the other ugly crap they do to themselves.

Look at you! Fifty-two years old and totally demolishing all those bitches without even trying.

1979

You never saw Mad TV, but Bob Newhart was once a guest. He played a psychiatrist, and when the patient explained her problems to him, he said, “Look, here’s how you overcome this issue: STOP DOING THAT!”

Whatever dysfunction she’d mention, he’d just shout, “STOP IT!”

Wouldn’t it have been great if I yelled, “STOP IT, CEECEE! YOU’RE A BEAUTIFUL, INTELLIGENT, TALENTED, FUNNY PERSON! KNOCK IT OFF!” and it all just ended? With no drama?

We should’ve had Bob Newhart write the scripts of our lives.

Still pissed off at you, but I’ll get over it. Wouldn’t mind a dream visitation, if you have time. I dreamed the other night that Dad was a horsefly, and I swatted at him with a tube of rolled-up tissue paper that did no good, and then it changed to a flyswatter, and I went into a frenzy and smooshed him on the wall into this big, green, star-shaped splat that had this little, flattened, gape-mouthed Ed-face in the middle of it.

Don’t give me a dream like that, okay? I’m kind of holding on by my fingertips right now. I was never going to publish this image, but since this is a letter for you, Mom, I’m doing it to make you laugh. Blame Tim; it’s his creation. On second thought he only illustrated my dream. I’m sure Dad won’t think it’s funny. Sorry, Dad. But we have to find our humor where we can. And after the last five-plus decades and your Grand Guignol exit, we’re kind of entitled, I think.

edifly

See you soon, CeeCee. And please don’t take it personally, Ed, if I ask you for some time off. Let me have a hundred thousand years, and then we’ll talk.

Love,
Tom


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