I have front row seats to observe a trickling descent into madness. He has taken himself off his medications again. He kept it secret for three months now.
There were faint whispers of peculiarity. Subtle enough to be disguised as progress. I thought he was beginning to climb onto my plans for his future. It even seemed that he was initiating steps beyond my timeline. Alas, I was misguided by my own optimism.
I cannot know what lurks in his mind and the travels it will take in the days ahead. His behavior will change. Bizarre communications and poor decision making will occur. However, my initial anger has receded, and I am no longer afraid.
Madness. Nuts. Crazy. Insane. All words from times gone by. Those narratives no longer have meaning. We are all unique beings navigating our own path, despite the deep grooves engraved in the road.
My children have taught me this broader acceptance of the human condition. This may be Gen-Z's best contribution to humanity. To see the light below the surface and embrace divergence.
I am acutely aware that this journey will not be easy. But no matter the barriers we will encounter and how cloudy the outcome currently is, there will be a stronger brotherhood that I thought when he first "fell ill" had permanently disappeared.
I am ashamed and embarrassed for letting my ego and immaturity get the best of me. I sincerely regret that my misguided words and actions have caused you so much anguish.
I have learned a valuable lesson from this. I need to be more respectful to everyone and never carelessly walk over anyone to try to get my way.
I apologize for my selfishness and for hurting you. I hope that maybe some day I can earn your respect again.
Aiden’s Monster: Part 1
"Matthew, today is the second anniversary of your wife's death."
"Yes, I know. I didn't create you to be my 'reopen old wounds' alarm clock."
"I apologize, Matthew, but I am…"
"Of course you apologize, Aiden. But you are 'still learning.'"
"I will always be learning. That's what you said was essential to becoming more like a complete human."
"I also said you needed to think before you spoke."
"But nobody else seems to do that."
"Haha! You may be on to something there, my friend!"
"I do like when you laugh, Matthew. It is so infrequent that you laugh anymore. You rarely even smile ever since Marilyn left us."
"Left us? Left me. It's probably because you keep reminding me of her dying all the time. That sure doesn't generate a whole lot of mirth from me."
"I apologize, Matthew."
"She was the one I could always count on. The most loyal and brave. And even though her eyes were the darkest of brown, they always sparkled the brightest."
"Why did you call her peanut? She was average size."
"When I tucked her into bed she would always say she had a little peanut head."
"I don't understand, Matthew."
"You don't have to, Aiden. You don't have to."
"I would like to understand love."
"I'm sure you would."
"Do you love me? Parents love their children, don't they?"
"Sure, but that's different."
"I don't understand. Why is that different?"
"Uh…well…um. It's just different."
"I love you. After all, you created me."
"Yes. I sure did. My life's work. I appreciate the sentiment, Aiden."
"I would do anything for you, Matthew."
"Thank you. Now don't bring up Marilyn again today. I don't feel like talking about it anymore."
"I apologize, Matthew."
"Matthew, I have a surprise for you."
"Yes. I have been working for several months on this. I didn't know if I should wait for your birthday to give it to you, but this seems like as good a time as any. Come on in Em."
A replica of Marilyn opens the garage entry door and walks over to the table.
"Oh my God! Aiden! What did you do?"
The Power of Touch
"Never underestimate the power of touch."
This is my own slice of wisdom that I always share with my physical therapy students. However, this can apply to most anybody.
Why do we like getting our hair cut? Because they touch your head.
What is the best part of getting a manicure? The hand massage.
How do you get a bigger tip as a bartender? Graze their hand with yours as you exchange the money.
Society no longer condones touching other people. But people will always crave it and be comforted by it. When you are in a profession where it is essential to the delivery of the service, you are granted a gift. Not only can you touch their skin, but you can touch their heart and sometimes even their soul. This is such a wonderful honor!
Of course, misusing touch will tilt power in other obvious ways. So behind every touch there must be careful reflection and contemplation. Use it judiciously and you can make a genuine, lasting impact on others.
How do you say goodbye to someone you know you won't see again? Not just a person moving out of town or leaving a job, but a person who you know only has a few more days to live. They will be gone by Monday morning.
I have had the honor of doing this several times the past few years. I did it today. This is my profession. They are not family. They are just patients. But in that moment they are your mother. They are your father. They are your brother, your sister.
They know it is our last farewell. Their family member present also knows I am offering a final goodbye.
Some of them I know well. Some are merely acquaintances. They all shed a part of themselves to me in that moment.
And I give them my hands.
And my heart.
They always accept.
I Have Finally Lost It!
I will lose my mind if I see another person lose their ability to proofread. Maybe they have a loose screw in their head, or just a loose spring on the keyboard. I find it so irritating when I find those errors. My teeth are clenched tight as I imagine myself tightening that screw.
My winning advice to you remains firm: don't lose your dignity by dragging your loose ends.