All We Leave Behind

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-02-15
  • Publisher: Textstream
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Thirty-seven-year-old John Morgan's personal life is already in disarray when he receives a phone call that his brother and niece are dead. His relationship with his father is nearly nonexistent, he barely speaks to his sister, and he has no real friends to lean on. As the tragic news slowly begins to sink in, John realizes he is floating aimlessly in the middle of an unpredictable sea of emotions with no one to rescue him. Lost in his childhood memories, regrets, and grief, John begins to reevaluate his life, his relationships, and why he has trouble connecting with-and even loving-others. As he attempts to regain the happiness that was stolen from him when his father rejected him over his writing, John begins a painstaking journey to climb out of the depths of despair. But it is only a matter of time before his past catches up with him and forces him to face all of the realities in his life. In this compelling tale that movingly illustrates the devastating effects of a dysfunctional family, John must learn to change what he can, accept what he cannot, and make the difficult decision to leave some things behind.


One I woke with a sense of dread. I was awash with anxiety, an impending sense of irrational doom. It was an entirely inexplicable feeling. A nightmare unremembered I told myself, that's what it must be, a nightmare unremembered. A loud crash of thunder exploded as if just outside my bedroom window and in my panicked state I nearly jumped out of bed. I live alone and at times like this I wish I had a partner. Someone to tell me 'relax dear it's just the storm.' or 'you were having a bad dream that's all.' Although I had calmed myself down some, I was in no condition to fall back to sleep. I pulled myself out of bed and headed towards my bedroom window. Looking out the window from the tenth floor the view was spectacular. Nature's fury lit the sky with blazing arches of electricity. Flashes illuminated the otherwise pitch black sky. In the moments of bright light one could clearly see the sheets of rain coming down. I watched for some time drawn into the majesty of nature's display before pulling myself away from the window. Glancing at my alarm clock the bright red numbers informed me it was just past three in the morning. I stifled a yawn somewhat unsuccessfully and slowly and sleepily shuffled towards the washroom. Squinting in preparation I flicked the light switch on. My bathroom was small and immediately upon entering it I was directly in front of the mirror. I looked tired and worn out. I had dark circles under my eyes, I hadn't shaven for a few days and I'd been gaining weight. I figure I was about twenty pounds or so above my comfort zone. I'd been eating too much fast food, drinking far too much and rarely exercising. I looked again at my face in the mirror. It was rounder than it used to be, pudgier. My black hair though short still managed to appear disheveled. There were still hints of the man I used to be though much of it had disappeared. At thirty seven I suppose I should be happy to have retained all my hair. I shouldn't care about the gain in weight or the thin wrinkles around my eyes. Still the subtle changes my life style had brought wasn't going to help my prospects any. I was terrible at approaching women. I became nervous too easily. I was inclined to go silent and just not say anything at all. Silence hadn't proven to be an effective ice breaker. I reached for my bottle of chalky antacid tablets. Recently I had been suffering from increasingly bad bouts of indigestion. Far too busy to visit the doctor was my excuse but truthfully I was putting off the visit. I was certain I would be condemned for my lifestyle. How would I answer his questions 'How much have you been drinking? Have you been exercising regularly? Are you eating well balanced meals?' Flicking the light off, I shuffled back to bed and pulled the blankets back up around me. Tomorrow I'd start exercising and eating better, yes, tomorrow. How many times had I said that? I woke groggily and sluggishly reaching for the ringing phone. It was still dark in the room the red lights of the alarm clock displaying quarter to five in the morning. It took three tired and discombobulated attempts before I successfully grasped the phone. "Yes... Hello?" My voice sounded gravelly my vocal cords unprepared to work so soon after waking. "John?" The woman's voice sounded familiar yet I couldn't place it. Her voice cracked with either age or perhaps emotion. "Yes this is John...who is this?" "It's your Aunty Beth. John... your brother Frank.... he's dead." I felt like I'd been punched in the chest, winded, I had no idea what to say, I wasn't sure I'd be able to speak. I wanted to disbelieve, this couldn't be happening. 'What?' was all I could muster, my word barely a whisper. "It's a terrible tragedy... we're all in shock." I hadn't seen Aunt Beth in a long time but it sounded like her. My hope that this was a terrible prank call was evaporating. "How?" My voice cracked but I managed to push the word out with more strength this time. "There was an accident. They were driving home. They had just had dinner with your Father" "Megan? Kimberly?" Megan was his wife and Kimberly their child, my niece. "Megan is in critical condition and Kimberly... she... I'm so sorry John." Poor Kimberly... only ten. "How's... Dad? How's he holding up?" The mental images of my brother and his family their faces flooded my mind. I raised my hand and pinched the bridge of my nose wiping away the tears that were welling there. "It's hard to say. He puts on a good front. He's as hostile as he ever was." "He told you to call me didn't he?" "Yes." It had been five years since we had spoken more than our annual Christmas phone conversation. It was a call that I made every year and each time part of me regretted making it. I told myself that one day he'll be dead and you won't be able to make any calls to him at all, that I'd regret not being able to talk to him even if he loathed me. Dad had a good relationship with Frank. He didn't despise Frank like he did me. Part of me was jealous of their relationship, a big part. "Does Jen know yet?" Jen was my older sister, the middle sibling. Her relationship with Dad was even worse than mine. "No. I was hoping you might..." "Of course." "Thank-you. They've got Megan at Credit Valley hospital..." "Right...I should go to the hospital. If you want a ride or anything I could give you a lift..." "I have more phone calls to make. I'll offer my prayers from here and visit in the morning. You just lost a brother John. You shouldn't be driving, call a cab." She was right of course. "Ok I will. Bye Aunt Beth." "Bye dear. Be strong." I felt the emotion choke up in my throat as I rested the phone on its receiver.

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