Thomas Wictor

The worst year of my life

The worst year of my life

This was the worst year of my life. For over a decade, Tim and I would say to each other, “This was the worst year yet,” but 2013 was the absolute bottom. I say than knowing full well that I’m daring the fates to make 2014 even worse, but it can’t be. The depths have been plumbed. You can’t get any lower than the Marianas Trench. So can say without fear that 2014 can’t be worse than 2013. Some really wonderful things happened in 2013. I published Ghosts and Ballyhoo and Chasing the Last Whale. Hundreds of people sent me great messages, such as the following.

Wow Tom,

I’ve literally just finished reading that thread- it’s past midnight here! I fell asleep yesterday reading it too, what an epic story. I’ve just ordered Ghosts and Ballyhoo and In Cold Sweat, cannot wait to get them!

Deliberately didn’t read your taster on the thread for Ghosts, because I’d come off Talkbass to open Amazon and order the book anyway.

What a life you’ve led. Thank you again for sharing it with us and for deciding to go ahead with the book.

I’ve been a lurker here on Talkbass since I decided to pick up my bass again a couple of months ago, but that thread has really inspired me to put my heart and soul into it- I think that’s what was missing before. Thank you for that.

This year I became extremely close with my brother Eric. I got to see Joe Cady in person again, a rare treat. After a year of struggle, my Website still isn’t completely functional, but it mostly works. I’ve discovered how to do scanner art, and I’ve gotten back into photography, which I gave up in 1999 due to failing eyesight. So a lot of good came from 2013. The indescribably awful deaths of Mom and Dad overshadowed it. The good wasn’t obliterated; in fact, it became even more valuable.

A short aside

I have to interrupt myself to underscore this point. In 2013 I became even more grateful for all the good things in life. At the top of the list is messages from readers. Anyone who thinks that their message doesn’t make a difference, you’re wrong. I save them all. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Thank you for sending them. They’re deeply appreciated.

Back to the blather at hand

The deaths of my parents were unnecessary but inevitable. What Tim and I didn’t know as our parents died was that it wouldn’t be possible to save them. We did everything we could, to no avail. It was only after we read through their private papers that we finally understood how the final outcome was preordained, given the various factors that had ruled our parents’ lives. We’ll never “get over” our parents’ deaths. In time the ghastliness of their dying will recede, but we’ll think about what happened every day. We’ll talk about it endlessly. On April 29, 2013, I made a ten-part video blog about Dad’s death. I sat in front of my computer, turned on the video camera, and just talked. About everything. I described in detail what happened, what I had to do, and what I felt motivated my father to turn his time of dying into such a horror show. The main impetus was to record my thoughts and listen to them, as though they were the words of someone else. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever make these videos public. Well, I’ve decided that the only one that I’ll allow everyone to see is the tenth and final part.

The details of Dad’s death will remain in shadow. They may appear in future fiction, but the videos themselves won’t be made public. On October 28, 2013, the past nine months of living with death on a daily basis came crashing down on me, and I had a genuine mental collapse. It lasted for only one day. For about eighteen hours, I listened to the music of Gary Numan and wrote. Then I deleted everything I’d written. I had a very strange experience on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. Though of course I could be fooling myself, I like to think that it was a specific presence who often appears in human form. He does so when he delivers messages. In my case the message was, “Don’t worry, sir. It’s all good.” How could the deaths of my parents be good? My interpretation is that the experience served many purposes. I believe that my parents died and discovered that it didn’t kill them. Tim and I learned that we were much stronger than we’d ever thought. Our relationship with Eric became unbreakable. I finally gave up the last shreds of pettiness that still swirled around in my psyche. Don’t get me wrong: Though Mom and Dad’s deaths were preordained, that inevitability had nothing to do with the divine. Human beings determined Mom and Dad’s fates. To me, “It’s all good” has an unspoken caveat: “If you can make it so.” I’ve decided to make it so. I’m not a saint myself. An interviewer recently told me I was like the Buddha, a person of universal compassion. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m cranky, intolerant, and extremely irritable. I do feel compassion for everyone, as long as they keep their distance. In Chasing the Last Whale, one of the characters uses the phrase “my circle of compassion.” She says it encompasses even those with whom she disagrees. My circle of compassion encompasses the globe—in a theoretical sense. I want everyone to be happy, free of suffering, and mostly somewhere else. The rest of my life is going to be dedicated to contemplation, the celebration of beauty, and writing. I’m going to have a full, mostly solitary existence. I love you all, but on my terms. Adults aren’t entitled to unconditional love, except from their parents. AND I’M NOT YOUR PARENTS. Don’t make assumptions, because then you make an ass out of you and me. And now, please join my toilet in singing goodbye to the year 2013.

Next year I’ll teach it to sing “Auld Lang Syne.”

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