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Spring cleaning April 13, 2014

Posted by johnbohlinger in Uncategorized.

I was doing some cleaning, getting rid of clutter after a long winter. On the shelf behind my desk I’ve had a large pile of photos of my son, given to me by one of his friends. *  I’ve not looked through them for years, it’s just too painful,  but in the spirit of spring cleaning I thought I would at least arrange them in a neater stack, rather than a haphazard pile.  When I picked them up, moister had gotten to them, and they were stuck together. As I tried to peel them apart, the photo’s white-paper backing stuck like glue to the front of the ones beneath them, forever obscuring the image.  I’ll never see these images again.  Already sad, I was now pissed at myself, the world, etc.  Then I began to speak out loud my new mantra I rely on whenever depression starts creeping in.

Everything dies.  Every Thing Dies, Every thing Dies.

Everything dies.  Every Thing Dies, Every thing Dies.

Everything dies.  Every Thing Dies, Every thing Dies.

I say it like a prayer until the meaning sinks in. That’s the one sure thing in life, the cruel rule nobody beats.  Mountains crumble,  pyramids turn to dust and everything that breathes eventually stops breathing for good.  The big picture is a beautiful sadness.  It’s all about perspective, like a painting.  Look close, you see chaos, globs of paint, stand back and you see Monet’s Water Lillies.  Look at death too close and you only see the pain,  step back and you see there’s balance.

I’ve heard it said that part of depression comes from one’s inability to imagine a future.  Kids are our future, literally.  No matter what you think about the afterlife, heaven, nirvana, nothing, children are life after death.  This is the prime directive, our genes doing what they are supposed to do;  continue on. My son, August, the life that his mother Sherrie and I created, was so much better than me. Like the new and improved model that’s had been refined and tweaked by the boys in R and D so he could keep the gene pool running.  It’s tragic that he is not here making the world a better place, having kids of his own that would be that much better than me. That’s the point of life: make a better version of you so the world will be better in the future.  That’s what our sex drive is about, that’s what marriage is about, that’s the point of it all: keep life going.

As I type this the depression and anger starts to creep in so I’m taking a break to recite:

Everything dies.  Every Thing Dies

The sun is shining today after a cold winter.  The grass needs mowing. I’m going to plant tomatoes in a few weeks, work on the garden, try to make my little world a bit more beautiful. Come October, all the color will fade from my lawn, garden, the trees and the sky. It will shut down for four long months and then start over.

When it’s just kicking my ass, I repeat “Everything dies.  Every Thing Dies, Every thing Dies,” and it feels better.  My sons gone, but that fate was set on the day he was born.  Nobody gets out of this world alive.  I’ll be gone too, maybe hit by a beer truck later today or maybe I’ll have a heart attack  while skydiving in my 90s.  Every Thing Dies but life goes on. Make peace with that or be miserable.

*  Side note.  It’s strange in our new digital age, how rarely we see printed photos, now photos are on our phones and computers but rarely in paper in our hands. The world has changed so much in the 6 years since my son left it.  He would have loved it.



1. Lynn - April 13, 2014

I thought I was alone in the fact that “every thing dies” makes me feel better. But it really does, for the most part. Many parents seem to be on a lifelong search for reasons as to why their child died, and I find that I cannot go there as it is depressing. My son died. He lived 23 years. The pain of typing those words just came rushing in, even though I was fine a moment ago. 😦 But death is the only thing I am assured of so thank you for saying that out loud. It took me a while of seeking for answers and not finding any satisfactory ones until it dawned on me that we are no different than all the other living organisms on Earth. Why should we be? And evolution goes on. So… for me, these thoughts gave me the power to accept what has happened (well, for the most part) and I made a decision to either live each day I have left to the best of my ability, or not live. As I had been kind of sitting on the fence with the thought that maybe I would be better off joining my son for a while in my grief. Because I am simply not the kind of person to waste my life and mope through it forever, I figured I better smarten the hell up and start living. I am not saying I am always happy, in fact, happiness isn’t really in my vocabulary right now, but I do live. I do things that I didn’t do before. I have fun even. Happy?? Not sure about that. I am living. That is all. And for me, if I am not going to give my life its all, I might as well die. It took a while, but I can now say I really do not want to die. I wish my son was still here with me but he is not. That fact is more painful than any other thing I have ever had to face and can still, on occasion bring me to my knees. Yes, every thing dies. But for today, I am living my life. Thanks so much for your story today.

johnbohlinger - April 13, 2014

Thank you Lynn.

2. grahamforeverinmyheart - April 25, 2014

Everything dies, but first everything is supposed to live. Our children did not get to follow through the natural cycle of life and so their deaths are traumatic. I’m always searching for something to make me feel less awful, but knowing everything dies doesn’t seem to help me.

johnbohlinger - April 26, 2014

I’m sorry. I know it’s painful and I know it’s scary. It’s not a traditionally comforting thought. But I’ve tried everything at this point w varying degrees of failure; excepting this universal truth has made it better (at least i’m less angry and self-destructive). In the big picture we are all just here for a minute and then it’s over.

3. tersiaburger - April 28, 2014

I do believe that my precious child is with me. It is not enough. I want to hold her, love her, care for her. I want to have coffee with her at 2am in the morning. I wish I could reach a stage where I can accept life without my Vicky. Hugs

johnbohlinger - April 28, 2014

I don’t think we are ever without our kids. I close my eyes and picture my son so clearly. I talk to him nearly every day. On one level I know I’m talking to myself. But on another I can’t help but think that sending out this message of love somehow reaches my son. I’m trying to get to a point of acceptance and gratitude that this wonderful person was in my life. Some days it’s good some days it’s almost unbearable.

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