Author: Robert Poposki
Pulling the Trigger
My grandfather died not too long ago. I didn’t handle well.
Growing up, my parents worked a lot, and so he helped raise me. He effectively did raise me. Every morning at 6.30am, well before school started, on their way to work, my parents would drop me off at my grandparent’s house. I would eat breakfast, watch cartoons, and then my grandpa would drive me to school in his red, Mitsubishi Magna.
On the way to school, he’d entertain me, talk to me, see me. He would try to convince me how he could see the future, and “prove” it by predicting when the lights would turn green: 3, 2, 1, kita, aliksan (look, they changed). He never fooled me. He would sing along to the songs sounding on the local Greek radio station he’d always listen to, 3xy, radio Hellas. He’d always be combing his hair, making sure that he looked dapper as dapper can be.
But what I remember and will always remember most is the smile that was forever carved into his face. The most beautiful, kind, warm-hearted smile any one person has ever beamed. A smile that you knew was there with you. A smile that would melt the iciest of hearts. A smile that would draw smiles on the faces of anyone nearby.
My memories of him before the stroke – which he had ten years before the cancer that killed him – are foggy.
And I kind of hate myself for that point.
They are foggy because growing up, I lived in my own world. In my imagination. And the reason I lived in their was because I found it hard coping with this life that I was born into. A life where I felt transparent, hollow, empty and alone. He was the only person that let me feel alive. He was the one single human who saw me for me, whose eyes I could trust, whose words I could believe. And because I was self-absorbed, so vacant, I can’t remember our times so well. And I hate that.
But I can still remember his smile.
His smile, his essence – his soul if you want to call it that – will forever live as a part of me. The only difference is that now, now that he’s gone, that part of me hurts. It is like a large splinter caught in the skin of my chest, throbbing. The sensation of this splinter lets me know that I’m alive, it allows me to feel and to sense, but it hurts. It burns. It is numbing.
I can’t even think about him let alone write about him without tears filling my eyes and blanketing my cheeks. They sting. It’s lucky that I can touch type. The pain is real and foreboding. It buds quickly and with great force and it is fucking painful.
When he died, when he left me, a trigger sparking my depression was pulled.
This trigger led my mind to think of literal triggers. For weeks all I could see was a reflection of my own person wedging a gun in the space made between my chattering teeth. I’ve never held a gun but I could feel it anyway. I could sense its metallic flavour in my salivating mouth and I could feel its cold surface pressed up against the inside of my cheeks. On a different day I could see news headlines reading that a boy with a “bright future” – that’s how it read in this fantasy, ironically – took his own life, delaying trains in the CBD of Melbourne by an hour.
He was severely depressed, sources say.
I’m okay now. The pain will never leave me and the tears will never dry. I don’t think I want them to. He was a great man, the greatest man I’ve ever known, and I don’t know how I would or could ever live with myself if the vague, fuzzily floating memories I’ve of him are wiped completely clean. The salty tears that sting my eyes when his face drifts up to my mind’s conscious eye remind me that I am alive. They remind me that I will always hurt. But they also comfort me. He never judged me and he saw me. Me for me. The tears are a reminder that I’ve been seen and that I do exist.
Depression doesn’t always need a trigger. This particular trigger pulled at my being a lot harder than usual.
Its form will forever be etched into my person. And sometimes the pain will seem so overbearing that idea of tomorrow will send chills to writhe and knot my spine.
For now, tomorrow will come. His memory will not ever leave me. It is stuck. It is the beating of my heart. It is the trigger. And I will do my best to use it for good.
It’s a manic world.