My dad said something today that really struck with me.
I’d told him a singer from a band I knew died recently;
that he had committed suicide, had chosen to end it all:
his final curtain call, the wounds in him too much for
years of success or knowing his music had saved
so many like me—and now, like him, like many,
from doing more than just listening to music
while contemplating exit signs.
And my pops, bless him, he said:
(his hands on the steering wheel, firm as always)
“I keep hearing that from your generation,” and:
“Lately, siento que ustedes se me están desapareciendo.”
Which, honestly? Made me think—if we: us the Gen-X'ers,
the Millennials; the twenty-somethings; the 90s kids; man-children;
clueless 30s; the Net Generation; the Hipsters; Los Pelús
If we have no Great War, no Great Depression, no Stock Market Crash,
no Vietnam, no violent Civil Wars, no Holocaust nor Genocide;
(—at least in America, I mean.) then why have I said goodbye
to so many friends I once thought Invincible; said goodbye to:
friends and family who I once thought stronger than mountainsides,
more enduring; all of them more capable than I;
I: this neurotic mess of words, ADD, and Clonazepam;
why are they all gone, left twice in middle school,
and six through college; while I'm still here weathering the storm?
I ask my father if he thinks it has something to do with weakness.
Ask him if he thought my generation just couldn’t hack it at life, as if
years of participation trophies (which he hated) and decades more
of entitlement without character building (which he loved) had turned us
into the kind of people who always check out in the middle of things;
whether it be a movie, a book, a series, a song; the go-home-gang,
he called it: always leaving without seeing if things could get better,
us all never interested in the journey or the struggle,
but still always fascinated by
But, no; instead, he said: “Pues. No sé, mijo.
Things were different when I was a kid.
We looked out for each other. We talked.
There was—we had community, tu sabe?
.” And that was that, for him.
And yet the suicide rate among teens has doubled,
And yet the suicide rate among LGBT youth has tripled,
And yet, just today, I heard the mortality rate of single mothers,
and those brave souls still coming back from a decade of war—
(not a Great one, no; and not one we acknowledge publicly;
much like our single mothers; our homeless youth;
my generation is dying, papi, y no sé cómo convencerte que
mañana yo podria no estar aquí; que sé cómo decirte:
I’ve thought about suicide more times than I’ve had birthdays,
and sometimes the only thing keeping me here,
is you thinking I am strong enough to fight.)
—my point is, someone I didn’t know took his life, today;
and even though I didn’t know him, his music spoke to me.
Convinced me that, even if tragedy has no face or name,
even if it is only a reflection, only a whisper on the wind;
what he and so many others have gone through
is less a running theme or metaphor, and more
the byproduct of every kid I've ever known, knowing:
suicide rates are the highest they’ve ever been in decades,
while still living a life too afraid to show their scars.
I think I’ll always wonder what it means, his words and his intent:
(Because I could never hold on to anything as tightly as he could)
“No sé, but I keep hearing your generation is dying,” and then:
“I don’t think there’s any reason for it, y'know? No lo entiendo.”
“My friends had it worst, but they—we all got through it.”
(And the pause here is deep, his knuckles still on the wheel.)
“Tu sabes? Your grandfather and his grandfather, too.”
Pero, papi. But dad: I know you’ve always said:
“Life’s tough, get a helmet. Life sucks, and then you die.”
But, shouldn’t this world we live in now be just a little better,
than the one you and your generation were given?
-- it's 2017 and I'm not sure I'll make it past 30 anymore.