A Closed Circle

father-and-son-lionsSpring, 1995. The spiral tubes and breathing machines. The ICU and the specialists. The spinal taps and blood tests. They will become a litany of memories… But not for me. For my mother and my sisters, yes. And especially my father—although I will never ask. But it will end there. My mother will speak of it only once, just a couple of months after I awake from a coma. In an indirect, roundabout way, in an inopportune time when I’m driving us home, waiting at the intersection for the light to turn green, she will tell me what he told her to tell me. I will already know. And she will quantify his words with her own.

“Whatever you’ve done,” she’ll say, “It’s in the past. Isn’t it?”

“Yea.” It’s the only lie I’ll utter that day.

That last part will read more like a command, than a question. A statement that doesn’t want to know the truth. It will be guided and sealed by her faith. We’ll speak around in circles about fathers loving sons… No matter what (italics her own.)

June 24, 1994. The lights fade out in the movie theatre and with it the chatter from the children scattered through the auditorium who are here to watch a new Disney film. I’m probably the only adult unaccompanied by a child. That doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t even cross my mind. All I know is that as I watch the opening montage, I begin to cry. By the end of the sequence, when the title card announces The Lion King, I’m a blubbering mess and I don’t understand why.

April, 1972. His genes have been passed on to me through the process of biology. I pictured him holding his firstborn son in his hands for the first time; a proud father at twenty-two years old. I’d like to think that at that moment, he transferred all his hopes as naturally as he passed on the color of his eyes, the stubborn trait, and the way my hair parts naturally to the left. These hopes are traditions passed on from father to son and on and on going back generations. An open loop, it unfurled like a newly sprout branch of a family tree added to the many branches that came before. I’d like to think that he cried tears of joy, because I’ve only seen him cry once.

*      *      *

A closed circle: an ideology that regards one as being “in denial” of their sexual orientation.

A closed circle argument is one that is unfalsifiable.” These claims are usually faith-based.

Memories from the outside, looking in. I don’t remember the spinal taps or the specialists that saved my life from spinal meningitis. I remember the crying at the Circle of Life, sitting alone in that movie theater. Time marches across life, leaving in its wake a trench of memories that we can mine some time in the future. I think of the closed circle and the command in the form of a rhetorical question. She tells me of how my father cried in the hospital room and how it scares her to see him cry like this. I remember back to my childhood seeing my father at the wheel crying in the parking lot of the cemetery where my grandmother is buried. The circle of life closes and reopens. And I realize that I, too, will close the circle when I remember that I am the last of the family name. Yet, even that is an argument that is unfalsifiable.

*      *      *

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11 thoughts on “A Closed Circle

  1. I enjoyed the way you told this in fragments, said fragments adding up to something much larger.

  2. I know this is only tangential to your great post, but I’ve been thinking a lot about being the last of the family name as well of late. Sure, there are lots of Jacksons out there, but not my stripe of Jackson. Do I honor my father by hoping to have a son someday? Is that part of the legacy with which our fathers charge us? Who knows?

    Great writing, friend.

    • It’s something I think about more now that I’m older. Is there an alternative to this kind of legacy? I wonder… Maybe it’s up to us to find what that is.

  3. I like how these snippets of memory flesh out the larger story. It’s a great example of the concept of “less is more”. You never over-tell, and that makes your writing even more powerful.

    Perfect title.

  4. Beautifully written piece! I have a confession.. I was a teenager when I saw the Lion King in the theater for the first time. I cried then too. The circle of life continues…

    • Thank you, Jen. It is a powerful “cartoon” if you pardon the derivative term for this film. LOL I still cry. I own it on DVD and I only watch it when I think I can handle it…. At least the opening sequence.

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