by David B. Seaburn
Genre: Literary Fiction
“I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but I think I died today.”
So begins the complex and mysterious journey of Gavin Goode and his family. What happened to Gavin and why? What secrets will emerge along the way? Frankie, his wife and a dress store owner, feels guilty, but why? His son, Ryan, who owns an ice cream parlor, and daughter-in-law, Jenna, who is a bank manager, are expecting their first baby. How will this trauma affect them? And what of Rosemary, Frankie’s best friend? Or Ben Hillman and eleven year old, Christopher? How are they implicated in the events that unfold around Gavin’s misfortune?
This is a story of despair and hope, dreams and reality, uncertainty and faith,humor, secrecy, forgiveness and beginnings. As in his previous novels, David B. Seaburn demonstrates his in-depth understanding of the human experience and his storytelling mastery.
Gavin’s son, Ryan, visits him in the hospital ICU for the first time.
Ryan gets up and walks to the window. He sits briefly on the ledge, then paces the room, trying to think of something he can do. Did his yelling send the wrong kind of vibe to his father? Did he make things worse? Maybe if he talks in softer tones, or prays, or plays some Billy Joel, Dad loves Billy Joel, or maybe if he brings in some candles like the ones at Yankee Candle at the mall, or burns some incense, maybe there is a way to break through to his father, then he’d have a chance of coming back.
“What do you need, Dad?” He goes to the hall and watches other loved ones coming and going, each trying to figure out what to do, trying to figure out how to save the day. He turns around and looks again at his father, who, swaddled in linen and gauze, could be anyone. He bends over, gaping at his face.
“Dad…Dad…I don’t know what to do. I’m scared.” Ryan falls back into a recliner opposite his father’s bed. “I know, I know, take a breath, that’s what you’d say. ‘Take a breath, Ryan’ and then you’d laugh like you were trying to tell me ‘I know what this is like and, believe me, it will all work out, you’ll see.’ And I’d believe you.” Every day when Ryan awakens, he utters a simple prayer, “Dad says things will be okay. Amen.” He’ll never admit it, not even to Jenna, but sometimes that is the one thing that will get him up. Sometimes he is afraid to swing his legs out from under the covers and put his feet on the floor. What might happen? What might go wrong? And then he thinks of his father and he gets up, sometimes reluctantly, but he does it.
But that well-worn prayer isn’t working now. His father lies flat on a hospital bed, unconscious and unaware, mummified in bedsheets, tubes in his nose and mouth, residue of a bullet in his head. He doesn’t even know Ryan is there. How are things ever going to be okay again?
Ryan gets up from the chair and stands beside his father. He inhales and lets the air out in a rush, settling his chest and relaxing his shoulders. He reaches for his father’s arm.
“I wish we could have talked this morning. I wish I could’ve heard…” Ryan takes his cell phone from his pocket and punches in a number. Then he puts the phone on speaker. After four rings: “Hi, Gavin here. Please leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon possible. Have a great day!”
“Ok,” says Ryan.
In 2010 I retired after having been the director of a public school based free family counseling center.
Prior to that I was an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center for almost twenty years. During my tenure there I taught in a Family Medicine Residency Program, practiced Medical Family Therapy and was the Director of a Family Therapy Training Program.
In addition to this I am a retired Presbyterian minister, having graduated from seminary (Boston University) in 1975. I served a church full-time from 1975-1981 before entering the mental health field permanently. I am married; we have two adult daughters and two wonderful granddaughters.
My educational background includes two master’s degrees and a PhD. Most of my career was as an assistant professor of psychiatry and family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. There I wrote two professional books and over 65 papers and book chapters.
In addition to long fiction, I write personal essays, many of which have been published in the Psychotherapy Networker magazine.
I also write a blog, “Going Out Not Knowing,” for Psychology Today magazine (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/going-out-not-knowing).