Stay Busy

“Stay busy.”

The simple advice given to me by a friend after my brother died.

“Stay busy.”

Bury yourself in work. Home projects. Family. Friends. Anything.

“Stay busy.”

Orient your mind in a way that focuses in areas other than the loss, but also remember to take time for yourself.

“Stay busy.”

Today my brother would’ve been 31 years old. Or is it 30? I think it’s 31.

Stay busy!


One Impossible Question and One Terrible Thought

Given the path my life has taken these past 6 years, it’s a tad ironic that I’ve never felt more connected to a Bible verse in my life:

Matthew 27:24
“When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!””

While my scenario and the one described in the Bible vary greatly, I understand the frustration. I understand the surrender.

I’ve washed my hands of my own mother.

My mother, as I’ve hinted at in the past, has quite literally gone insane.

From thinking people live in her attic and pump poisonous gas into her home. To telling me kids live in her condo and hide her keys from her. Or that time she told my brother that my dad has a group of kids buried in a hole in Gary, Indiana and is going to cut their hands and feet off. And that time she broke into my house and told the police “The people told her to.”

Sadly, these are just a couple examples from the last 5 years of paranoia and schizophrenic behavior.

The many stories I could tell you would inspire laughter, disbelief, anger and frustration.

For a solid 4 years I tried. I really did. I tried to understand the how and the why. Then I stopped trying to understand and tried to just have a relationship of some sort. I tried to keep myself and my kids in her life, but safely and sanely.

I tried hard enough that only 1 year into this mess my mom’s case worker told me directly, “You and your brother have gone far beyond what most families attempt to get aid.”

So in October of 2017 I finally came to the impossible question:

At what point do I let my mother destroy herself? 

I’d exhausted all options of forced medical help and police intervention. The only way she’ll be forcibly locked up and medicated is if she hurts herself or someone else. This is, I came to find, why jails are the biggest mental institutions in the United States. They’re full of mentally ill people that just won’t take their meds.

The only actual option I have left is some type of legal guardianship over her and, plainly, I’m unwilling to do that for a variety of issues.

My mom wasn’t some super sweet, innocent, kind and level headed person before she got to this state. She’s always been manipulative, controlling, angry and crushingly difficult to deal with because she’s always, in her mind, the smartest person in the room.

So, if I were to say, oh, I don’t know, become the sole person responsible for all of her financial situation and pay all her bills and control her money, it would be absolute hell for me. She would make sure to curse me into oblivion.

She already thinks I’m an evil agent of my father used in a “game” to ruin her. If I took ownership of her finances, she would see it as my father taking final control over her life and she may snap in the worst way that word implies.

You see, there’s still 1 unaccounted for gun from the divorce. Does she have it? I don’t know.

I’m writing this now because last night I received news that the police and her condo association have finally gotten a court signed injunction to, if needed, break down her door and fix issues with her condo that have created massive water issues for the people living below her.

If my mom resists, she’ll be put in jail. If she’s compliant, she can’t be in her condo for 10 days while repairs are made.

She also owes massive amounts of money to the home owners association for legal troubles and contractor repairs. She no longer has a car because she lost it playing her dumb games with innocent, unknowing people. And she’s burned almost every bridge she has in her life.

So, finally, the very real possibility of homelessness is finally on the table and I saw it coming over 2 years ago.

Which brings me to my terrible thought. I confess I conceived this originally over 4 years ago, but I’m just now able to admit it out loud today:

I wish my mother were dead.

Not out of anger, but selfishly so that I’d still have many good memories and happy thoughts of her. Happy times with my once solid family still intact.

If she’d passed away years ago, I could remember the mom that held me as a kid and was an amazing listener. The mom that always laughed at my jokes and never put herself first. I could remember the love.

It seems that that mother passed away a year after my brother did.

In truth, I can say I have a clear conscience about it all. I tried. I really tried.

Or maybe I don’t because I know I can do more, but don’t have the wits about me to try and control the uncontrollable until one of us dies.

Maybe I say I tried to keep the guilt at bay that my mother, the woman that raised me, may soon find herself without a home.

So, I hear you, Pilate. I too have washed my hands of something.

It’s just becoming increasingly distressing that no matter how hard I scrub, some of this dirt won’t come off.

What I’ve Learned After 6 Years of Godlessness – AKA “Dogmas, bruh.”

Technically, it wasn’t after 6 years. More like 2 years, but it’s taken me 4 years to finally write this down.

So, prepare yourselves for this mind blowing truth bomb that comes with a heaping pile of anecdotal evidence gathered personally and through discussions with others.

The truth I’ve learned after 6 years of walking away from belief is that just about everyone requires belief in something bigger than themselves.


Less because of the validity of “god shaped holes in our hearts”, but because of plain old fashioned tribalism and fear.

Be it politics, science, social justice causes or straight up theism, everyone clings to their own dogmas.

Having personally been raised in a church and by conservative parents, I’d assumed once I left belief and walked into a new community of people, that I’d be awash in open minded free thinkers.

I was wrong.

It took some doing, but once the newness of weak atheism/agnosticism rubbed off, I felt like Saul in the book of Acts when the scales fell from his eyes and he could again see clearly.

These atheists I’d assumed would be less likely to blind spots in their thinking were every bit as emotionally tied to their beliefs as the christian fundamentalists they raged against seemingly without end.

This mostly seemed to take the form of political worship of the left in varying degrees of  severity. To even entertain the idea of conservative thinking meant you were, by default, a racist homophobe that hates women.

The God of Government is the new deity and the only holy denomination is leftism.

Gag me.

I wonder what atheists would think of one of their heroes, Christopher Hitchens, if he were still alive today.

While many an atheist will send you endless YouTube clips of people getting “Hitchslapped” (see video below) by Christopher, those same people seem to forget that Hitchens was a pro-life conservative.

In today’s extreme political tribalism, I think even Hitchens, with all his oratory skill, could get swallowed alive by the gaping maw of the left.

You see, to be a conservative atheist puts you in a rather small section of an already small group, but to throw pro-life in there, too, well now you’re sitting at a corner table of a hot wedding tent next to the port-a-jons where nobody can see or hear your cries for fresh air.

Atheists, it seems, are a monolith of political leftists that worship the state.

And they all have iPhones. Weird.

Science is another thing people really get into when you leave religion.

Did you know that we’re all stardust?! DID YOU KNOW THAT?!

That means like, that we’re all stars and connected and part of a larger piece of the universe!

These people will post endless Neil deGrasse Tyson videos and talk about how glad they are that when they die, their essence goes back to the universe. An endless cycle of death and life!

These are also the people that like to point out how improbable something is in a sci-fi movie because it’s not realistic.

I know I’m taking the piss out of large groups of people, but this is how I see it.

Maybe it’s easy for me to poke fun at these groups because I’m so whatever about most everything.

My wife once, I believe, correctly summed former believers up so I’m going to paraphrase here and omit all her swears because she’s such a potty mouth:

“The type of believer someone was is probably the type of non-believer they’ll be. If you were On Fire for Christ, you’re probably obsessed with science now. If you were a hardcore Republican, you’ve probably flipped to Democrats.”

Based on what I’ve seen and learned. I think she nailed it.

Lucky for me I was a lukewarm Christian, so I’m a lukewarm weak atheist.


We live. We die. We should try to not be assholes during that period.

Avoid groupthink and ideologies where you can. If someone isn’t hurting another party, let them do their thing.

Let’s take everything with a nuanced approach and go from there.

Except iPhones. Those should go where Steve Jobs did.


35 Years Old and Half Dead

So, this is it? Pretty much halfway there give or take.

Feeling good. Feeling pretty good.

Fighting to keep my hair from leaving me. The laugh lines are ever deeper and ‘The Battle of the Gut’ is always in full swing, neither side willing to relinquish control over the geographic location known as my tummy.

I have 2 wonderfully funny, kind and affectionate children and a wife that still thinks I’m pretty funny, if not still a little too crass at times.

I feel a good bit less about some things than I used to and an overwhelming amount more about things I’d never considered.

I’m more or less tired most of the time and figure people are, usually, good individually, but terrible in groups.

I still enjoy nothing more than laughing until I cry and cherish time with my friends as we bend elbows at a local place of delicious brown beverages that make me laugh harder and louder than normal.

I’ve lost some people I loved immensely and miss them daily, but have been blessed with more love because of it.

Been in more fistfights in my life than your average next 2 or 3 guys combined. Done some walloping of my peers and also had the shit kicked out of me.

My cage is generally rather hard to rattle, but I still fear leaving my family early more than anything else on this floating rock.

I’ve rather enjoyed this first 35 years and am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next 35 should I be so lucky to make it there.

5 Years On, It’s the Small Things that Mattered Most

Today at 12:48 PM, my brother will have been dead for 5 years.

This particular day doesn’t feel any more special or worthy of note than any others, but here I am, making note of it. Probably more out of habit than anything else.

Five years on and I’ve realized it’s the small things that have left the largest impact on me since Phil’s passing. How people around me reacted at a low point has taught me a great deal about loving others.

Patti, the receptionist at work who heard me lose it on the phone when I got the news, who came over to me and rubbed my back with one hand back and forth slowly, gently as I cried at my desk. She cried with me as I packed my things to go be with my family.

Jeff, a good friend that was walking into the hospital as I pulled up to it, who simply sat with me in silence and waited patiently for me to say it was okay that he go home to his family.

Brandon, a dear friend that drove 4 hours to be there at the funeral and embraced me like a brother.

An uncle that, to this day, sends me “head check” texts on the anniversary of Phil’s death as well as on Phil’s birthday.

Seemingly endless amounts of people that showed up to the visitation and offered kind words and cooked meals for our family.

Almost daily messages in the weeks and months that followed of people talking about Phil and sharing funny stories.

Others reached out and offered sage advice on dealing with loss. One such friend even shared how he was able to grieve after he lost an infant to SIDS.

Loss, it seems, has the ability to expand love in this world as well as end it. I count myself blessed for having received an overflowing amount of it.

I share all of this now as a poor way of saying thanks to those that have lifted me up in low moments.

Having been shown such kindness and grace from family and friends, it further cements in my mind that it’s the small things that matter most in life.

A gentle hand. A warm smile. A strong embrace. Kind words. Being present.

These things matter.

Agnosticism > Atheism (and Theism)


With as much as I generally don’t like to run, you’d think I was running some crazy ass marathon for the amount my intellectual landscape has shifted over the last 5 years.

From lifelong believer to outspoken atheist full of venom to an atheist that’s just live and let live to now just a plain old boring lacks the balls to take a firm stance agnostic.

Continue reading

A Death, A Loss of Faith, A Baby, A Divorce and A Wedding


The Pratt boys from today’s wedding – Me, Dad, Masen and Jay

Today my father got married to a very nice woman named Gayle. Gayle’s a very sweet lady that adores my father and he, in turn, loves her dearly. By all accounts and from every way I look at it, they’re going to be very happy together and will serve each other well. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

But as I stood on stage with my dad, my older brother, Jason, and one of my father’s dearest friends, Mark, I was hit with a very sudden and unexpected crushing sadness. I was thrilled for my father and Gayle, but it hit me up there on stage, listening to my dad swear vows to a woman that isn’t my mom, that this was the climax and finale of the death of my brother.

If my brother dying suddenly on May 16th 2012 was the start of a new book in my life, today, with my dad marrying Gayle, was the end of that book. A final punctuation mark on a rather tumultuous 4 years summed up perfectly with, “You may now kiss the bride.”

After Phil died my immediate family, a once shockingly close knit group, was thrown headlong into uncharted territory which resulted in my mom hating my father, me losing religion and having a baby girl, begging my father to divorce my mother and finally with my dad marrying Gayle. (Certain drama left out because well….I don’t want to share it.)

The only constant in all of this is that my brother hasn’t been here for any of it. While I should’ve seen it coming, it was today, over 4 years after Phil’s death and a good 3 and a half years of being totally numb to almost all emotional pain that I was brought to tears and forced to again face the realities that Phil has missed everything and will always miss everything.

Would my parents have divorced if he hadn’t died? Would I still be a happy member of the Christian village? If my parents divorced, would my dad have met and fallen in love with Gayle?

Phil is both the missing component in all of these events as well as the very likely reason any of these things are happening.

So, it was with both great joy and sadness that I hugged my father and Gayle and wished them the best of luck in their new life together.

I just wish Phil was there to give dad a hard time and to take pictures with us again.

This is all probably his fault anyways.

The only picture of all the Pratt boys in existence – Me, Jay, Masen, Phil and Dad