6 Years: Death & Objecthood

September 17th, 2012 § 0 comments

With every year that passes I try my best to negotiate a new kind of truce with your death, to find peace in the lingering and everlasting grief, and each year it’s a different kind of truce. Six years now—I can hardly believe it—since you shattered my 22-year-old world, one that was cozily wrapped up in a kind of childish innocence about what life could, would, or should be. My childhood ended, and all things associated with it, mainly my youthful marriage, that lonely day years ago when you left. It’s not the immediate heartbreak of grief that scars us, but living with it year after year that leaves traces we can’t erase. Like the slow process of aging, the subtle shifts in our body’s abilities, loss etches lines that are just as permanent.

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In Memory: Five Years Since

September 17th, 2011 § 2 comments

Did you see our brother
He was here the other day
But he only came to say that he was leaving

Who writes to dead people? Poets, artists, daydreamers, perhaps Emily Dickinson, and certainly those who miss someone lost. Five years you’ve been dead, and only one year has gone by that I didn’t acknowledge it. It reminds me of a scene from a very beautiful French movie called Il y a Longtemps que Je T’aime (I’ve Loved you so Long), about a woman coming to live with her sister after spending fifteen years in prison. In a dramatic scene she accuses her sister of forgetting her, at which point the younger sister shows her day planner after day planner where her name is written at the top of each page. Hemmed within thousands of little boxes dictating the day of the week, the month of the year, or scheduled daily obligations, were 5,475 remembrances. Though writing a name everyday is a simple task, it takes great deal of effort, like putting a penny in a jar at the same time every morning as my brother did as a teenager, to remember someone gone.

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Three Septembers Later

September 17th, 2009 § 0 comments

You missed a great year for the merciless banter you loved. We would have teased you endlessly for turning 30 before the rest of us, and I would have spent an afternoon searching for a delightfully horrible card to commemorate the beginning of us “getting old.” You, on the other hand, could have made humorous stuff from my being separated at twenty-five after a long and perplexed marriage. As funny as a truckload of dead babies you might have said, and rightfully so.

backyard

It is too easy to be disappointed with people who have died. We expect them, though perhaps not literally, to be alive in all the ways we expect people who are alive to be. We want friends when alone, comfort when upset, consolation when afraid, advice when lost. The deceased, no matter how much we loved and miss them, do not readily provide these living human functions, which is perhaps why we miss them more, or most, in times of need. Damn it, can’t you just wander in while I am sleeping and give me your take on this situation? I catch myself every so often thinking these things and selfishly wishing you could be a little bit here even while still being there.

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A Garden Wedding

June 11th, 2009 § 2 comments

I am looking out the window of the plane en route to new york. The sun is setting over clouds that have finally stopped shaking the beer can we are flying in, and the view is breathtaking. It is awkward to be so high, but it’s a view I can never resist, and since it will be dark when I fly over the east, I am enjoying the window seat while it still matters.

midwest

At the risk of sounding cliché, I can’t help but state that the wedding was truly beautiful. It was everything I think the bride wanted it to be; simple, nontraditional, sentimental, and meaningful. Despite the rebellion my generation instinctively feels toward the traditions of feminine ownership, I understand why we love weddings. Property matters aside, it is a lovely way to come together as a group and celebrate something good. Love, even when it does not last, in the moment that it is true, is a glorious thing to toast—birth, death, and love. The details of weddings only matter because they too are icons of a kind of shared beauty. Flowers, friends, silks and satins are simply the manner in which we reflect a feeling, and our sentiment.

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Gate, Bridge, but Golden?

December 20th, 2008 § 0 comments

If San Francisco is an iconic and beloved city that defines the west coast to outsiders, then the Golden Gate Bridge is more an iconic symbol of California than the grizzly bear prowling the state flag. Like Highway 1 and the coastline it winds along, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of California’s greatest attractions. I have driven on, walked across, and taken a boat tour under, that bridge.

The 2006 documentary, The Bridge, aesthetically resembles countless postcards of the Golden Gate, and the surrounding areas it connects together. It feels as though it were filmed from every geographic point from which the looming red gate can be seen, and it captures, much like a living object, its different personalities. We see the Golden Gate from above, below, and behind surrounding parks. Time-lapse photography allows its appearance to change in seconds as fog rolls in and out of the bay, clouds linger or pass across the highest suspension points, as rare San Francisco mornings of bright blue push yesterdays clutter from the sky. Quoting an article from the New Yorker entitled “Jumpers,” on which the film was based, “there is a fatal grandeur to the place.”

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