We all deal with pain in our own way.
Grief is a bastard, and we usually react instantaneously, grasping as one waist deep in the quicksand for that thing that most easily and quickly, (even if temporarily) has the answer.
Dad died. No secret there, fearless readers, and we as a family, as a collective unit, stumbled along in our own ways. People, drained of color, wandering in circles like elderly people mall-walking, or one of the zombies in a George Romero movie.
There were different answers for everyone, at least varieties of answers. My elder siblings found solace in their own ways, my mother as well.
In that situation you have to, absolutely have to, do what you can. We had crutches. All of us. We fought as a family. Sometimes we swung those crutches at each other, but sometimes we loaned them to each other to prop ourselves up.
I think we did it. We emerged from that three year period of bleakness, emaciated, bloody, angry, but still deeply loving of each other.
I spent a lot of time alone there. A kid on the weekends, often left to his own devices learns to talk to himself, which eventually I did well. I wandered the back yard, rehearsing speeches never to be heard, singing songs never to be written. I constantly reorganized my baseball cards, carrying my favorites wrapped in a rubber band in my back pocket.
Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, and Jim Aparo created the four-color heroes that emerged from my 35 cent comic books, that always had a new angle every time I read them. Make no mistake, these things lost much of their sheen after Dad died, but they still held the power to spark my mind.
For a time, I thought "The Bar" was a giant beast that swallowed my loved ones whole and belched out stumbling, bumbling, mush-mouthed versions of themselves, that for the first time would have the power to grieve out loud. By morning, they were themselves again, and the outward angst was gone. That slow-steam building anger at the world for removing one of our own, temporarily silenced.
A few years later I discovered the gains to be had in alcohol, and whole-heartedly engaged in them myself. The forgetting it created, which eventually led to catharsis. It was purging, artifical, but purging nonetheless. There's nothing for anyone to be ashamed of. I even convinced myself of that.
I can never blame any one person for using what was there for band-aiding the cuts that never seemed to stop bleeding. But in a 3 year period, my family had been tied together with a barbed-wire twine, dropped into a hole with a high-powered explosive, and left to wait for it to detonate.
Which it did.
We're still fucking here.
I love you guys.