Dating : Life Lands A Crushing Blow

h2>Dating : Life Lands A Crushing Blow

A Semi-Fictional Account of The End

John Willson
Photo by Hoach Le Dinh


I watched the slanting, gray drizzle of the Northern Michigan Autumn morning through my apartment’s bathroom window. It brought up images of the previous night’s obsessive jealousy and eventual panic attack. I hadn’t taken an anxiety pill in months.

Another cliché! A depressive like me, drinking vodka and reading Plath.

Back on my bullshit, I was still harboring pain from years before. Unresolved issues dating back to the day my ex-wife had started treating me like I wasn’t human.

The pain I felt at this point was a fresh tear of my healing heart. The first real relationship I’d had in the years following my divorce had come to an end.

I thought it was what I wanted: The End. As it turned out, I didn’t know what to want.

Which was normal, I suppose. Like Kundera said, “We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.”

So, I was back at the beginning, hung-over and depressed. I undressed and took a shower while Jimmy Ruffin sang:

“Life lands a crushing blow,

And once again, a heart is broken.

And as history repeats itself,

These few words are sadly spoken:

I’ve passed this way before,

And I’ve felt this pain before”

The water didn’t cleanse my mind or rinse away the troubles like I had wished. I sifted through the last of my clean clothes to find the darkest grays and blacks, tossing aside colorful old race t-shirts. Relics from a former time, these shirts reminded me that I had once had the energy to run three miles without stopping. The colors were all wrong for this type of day.

I have always found it difficult to brood properly in yellow.


After the forty-minute drive to the community college I had been attending entirely too long, I sat numbly through my Statistics and Probability class. Instead of absorbing the formulas needed for the upcoming exam, I meditated, contemplating a spectacular death. On my list of twenty-two things to do before I died, there were a few items just dangerous enough to be passed off as contributing to an accidental ending. Skydiving, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, swimming across Torch Lake… I thought that I could never conjure up the courage to end my own life. Just another failing of my weak will. But it was a purifying feeling to picture doing it in an extravagant fashion.

I took my melancholy to the computer lab and composed a self-perceptive, if juvenile, poem:

We’re drawn to black

And stylized death

Until it’s time

To pull up stakes

And leave this world

Lonely without

Our presence

Or forgotten

Memories are a plague

Without them

We’d be happy


We can’t remember

The good times

Our regrets, however

Images, archived

Copies have been made

The originals are on display

In the overstocked museums

Of our restless minds


Three days later, I was just coming out of the funk. Watching a rerun of a sitcom at one in the morning, I felt like I hadn’t in years, with silliness in my blood stream. I wasn’t missing the ex or the ex at all. Then I received a phone call.

Phone calls at one in the morning, at least in my experience, are, for the most part, not good. That is to say, bad.

My cousin, whom I consider to be one of my best and closest friends (and it seems at this point, with me well into my thirties, that my only friends are family members), was calling to tell me that one of my closest friends from the years before my marriage was dead.

Heroin overdose.

The funk returned, and George Clinton was nowhere to be found.


At the memorial service, I cried while the music played. It was like Dan had chosen the music especially for the occasion himself.

The pastor told a story that described Dan perfectly:

When Dan and his fiancée were preparing for their wedding, the pastor asked Dan if he had any favorite psalms that he might want included in the service. Dan, not being especially religious, and knowing almost nothing about the bible, stated that his favorite psalm was psalm 69.

The pastor, not knowing that Dan was joking, looked up psalm 69 and read it aloud:

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me.

Upon hearing this, Dan, of course, laughed so hard that he fell out of his chair.

When the pastor told this story to Dan’s friends and family, we laughed so hard, some of us fell out of our chairs. That story described Dan as we remembered him, so funny and perfectly inappropriate.


At a get-together after the service, I tried to catch up with some faces I hadn’t seen in a while. The conversations made me sadder and sadder.

I was talking to a girl who graduated from high school five years before I did.

She was a wasted soul. A waste of life, hanging around parties, picking up boys ten years younger than her. I asked her what she was doing. She said she was getting drunk and having a grand time. I asked her what she was REALLY doing. She surprised me by telling the absolute truth. I felt no one had ever done that before.

She said she was waiting until her child turned eighteen so she could leave our small town and never look back.

It was terrible and beautiful at the same time.

Humans are disgusting and also surprising.


At home, my thoughts went to Dan and how he laughed. He had an infectious laugh that, if I was around him for too long, would make my head ache from laughing along. He was a champion at getting through the day. He knew what I know now, that the world is all suffering and anxiety. But he was great at prolonging the suffering. Unfortunately, it eventually led to his drug use and accidental suicide.

I started wondering if the world would miss me if I was gone. I made a bucket list with “Death” as the last item.


So, here I am, 99% of the way through my bucket list.

I am standing at the peak of the courthouse in downtown Bellaire, Michigan.

There is a crowd watching below.

My last words will be, “I can see my house from here.”

I know my friend Dan will appreciate it.

What do you think?

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