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.

I have finally discovered, however, where you do exist. It’s not in any of the places I thought to look, and is certainly not a place I chose. You now rest snugly, comfortably, and easily within my fears. You remind me of a Wim Wenders angel, hovering without the capacity to prevent or save or even council, acting simply as a companion before the possibility of an impending tragedy. It is bizarrely romantic to know that when I feel fear I remember your death, and you seem to dissolve fear as easily as you burst into laughter in life.

bedroom

During the recent 9/11 anniversary there were some interesting discussions in circulation about how to memorialize, about what ought to be remembered and shown, what should be left to memory, and how much is simply too painful to recall. What is the benefit of reliving a day of tragedy? Personal loss is certainly different than a mass cultural remembrance, but to me there is great comfort in remembering, even indulging in, our grief. The specificity of today I sometimes find problematic, because it seems to suggest that we have forgotten you on all other days, but the truth is the opposite: we always remember you’re gone, but we take the day of your death to celebrate your life. Days of memorial therefore are indulgent, and they should be collective, and I don’t see much wrong with that. No one who remembers you today would tell me it’s better, easier, or more natural, to do otherwise.

…..Someone who had been away
…..Suddenly came back today
…..And I allowed him home today into my mind
…..For a moment face to face
…..We looked back upon the place
…..Where today we went to chase our careless time
…..Oh, what do you know
…..The love that I’ve been feeling
…..The past is healing so slow
…..My tomorrow. Gone from sorrow.

—counter song from silver lake

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