I Don’t Want to Share This

Dear sir,

I saw you there. I know we didn’t talk much because we were both wrapped up in our own nightmares, but I wanted to tell you about a vague memory I have — probably one of the earliest burned in my brain. It must have been around 1973 because I was at prime lesson-learning age for a boy. My friend Tommy was over, and we decided to play marbles. You looked a lot younger than me. So in case you don’t know, those are spherical objects you must manipulate with your hands for entertainment because they have no electronics embedded inside. I know, sounds primitive.

The problem was that I’d been given a taw (big marble) by my grandfather and Tommy wanted to use it. Back off, pal! My little self had no intention of sharing that new marble — it was way too special for me to be touched by someone else’s grubby mitts. This didn’t set well with Tommy, and a fight ensued that spilled over into the hall and eventually into the kitchen where my mother was cooking. My mother did not appreciate my selfishness.

Knowing I was in trouble, I closed my hand over the marble and shoved my fist in my pocket. An inquisition began during which Tommy truthfully laid out everything. For my part, wrong or not, I was stubborn enough to keep my clenched fist in my pocket and the two of them weren’t strong enough to wrangle it out. Frustrated, Tommy left and my mother gave me one more chance to give her the marble. I refused. My course was set. I had not yet been convinced of the propriety of sharing. When my father came home, I was enlightened — not only about sharing, but about respecting my mother. I am fairly certain I ate my dinner standing up that evening.

I have been married long enough that I share pretty well now. I do grimace if anyone wants to use one of my tools or even set foot in my shop. But most of the time I get over it. I also have an issue with the console of my truck. I really don’t want to share that space even with my wife’s little lipstick tube. I don’t know why.

This may sound rude, especially coming from a stranger, but I have something I don’t want to share with you. I will hold this tightly in my closed palm and do everything I can to keep you from seeing or touching it. I don’t want to share it with you. In fact, I would lock it in a vault, hire security and do nearly anything to keep you from it — because it is simply unbearable.

I don’t want to share this with you.

I don’t want you to know what it is to yearn for the return of something you can’t have.

I don’t want you to live in the past because the present only brings pain and regret.

I don’t want you to lie hour after hour staring at a dark ceiling because you can’t turn off your mind long enough to sleep.

I don’t want you to look into the tear-stained eyes of your wife wondering if she will ever smile again.

I would do anything to keep this from you.

I don’t want you to have to tell your precious child that they are going to die and watch as they process the information.

I don’t want you to say goodbye, that you will see them again someday in another place. Likewise, I don’t want you to yearn for the hastening of that day because this life without them is too hard.

I don’t want you to smell the dirt of your child’s freshly dug grave.

I don’t want to share this burden of guilt as a father and husband — guilt like a thick winter coat buttoned and zipped so tightly you cannot remove it whether it is justified or not.

I don’t want to share this with you.

I will buy you a thousand marbles and even give you the special taw I withheld. I don’t even know you, and I would do anything in my power to keep this away from you — to not share this thing…

 

 

But if we must share it, we will shoulder it together and do everything within our power to keep our fists in our pockets so that no one else gets to see… Deal?

 

Artwork: “Game of Marbles” by Karl Witkowski –

A Necklace from Kylie

I’ve never worn a necklace. I don’t mind them on men as long as they aren’t the Mr. T starter kit size. I have just never found one that suited my tastes.

In my first job, there was an accountant who had a chain so large it could be seen under his button down shirt. This was before the days of casual dress and this guy’s pendant literally pushed his tie an inch off his chest. I heard he got indicted for embezzlement after I left the company, which should be a lesson to us all – hide a big, gaudy chain under dress clothes, go to jail.

I did have a quest for the perfect necklace, though, and along the way I recruited a partner. I am not a surfer, but if I ever found a shark’s tooth on the beach I would get it set on a leather chain and wear it. I know you can buy them, but it isn’t the same as finding one in the sand on a morning walk.

fossil_shark_tooth_lamniformes

On our annual trip to the white sands of Florida, Kylie and I would scour the beach for a shark’s tooth. She was the only other morning person in the family and a willing cohort to any adventure. Shark-tooth hunting became an event for us – a big one for me, a little one for her. We often ran to what looked like our quarry, but upon closer inspection ended up to be shells or rocks. Sadly, we never found a shark’s tooth. We spent many mornings combing the beach. Neither of us considered that our Friday morning walk in the sand in the summer of 2013 would be the last chance to find one together. Those thoughts don’t ever cross your mind as the sun rises across the horizon and the warm surf laps at your toes.

SONY DSC

 

The consolation in not achieving a goal is that there is always next year. But that isn’t always true – next year isn’t a sure thing.

Those walks could be called futile in their result, but they weren’t. They are precious memories of time well-spent despite the fact that I do not own a shark’s tooth.

I do have a necklace, though.

It is nothing like I ever expected. A shark’s tooth makes one look manly – like a modern day pirate who extracted it from the beast barehanded and has a gaping scar across his ribs to prove it. That’s the story I would tell. But no, my necklace is not manly. And the scar that accompanies it is not visible.

My necklace contains three yellow beads strung on a leather cord. It cries wimpy… until you know its significance. For these aren’t ordinary beads. They are compacted flowers – making it even less masculine, if that were possible. They smell heavenly. The flowers that comprise them were collected from Kylie’s funeral – an event that ripped out my heart and left a scar that will never heal. Ironically, my beads rest just above that wound.

fullsizerender-3

So we may not have found our shark tooth, but Kylie is a part of the only necklace I’ve ever worn. I love wearing it, too. It has become an item of comfort that often brings her image back to my lonely mind.

I love my necklace.

The big musclebound guy at the gym who chuckled at my feminine necklace may not be a fan. Thirty seconds into my explanation he was sobbing like a baby with all of his biceps and pectorals twitching and shaking uncontrollably. Any more questions, meathead?

So if you run into me, and wonder about my necklace, go ahead and ask. I’ll introduce you to my little girl who loved yellow and left me before we found a shark’s tooth to string.

img_2995-copy
“I found something blubbery, but its teeth aren’t sharp!”

 

 

Shark tooth photo attribution: Dominik Vogt