Everywhere there is death, for all time. I haven't been in the mood to write. I'm being depressive. But I missed the sound of my voice against the keys, so here I am, like a surprise visit from the hospice.
A few days ago I received an email asking for help moving a playground fire truck from the parking lot of a church into the playground area of my son's former pre-school. Diligently, feeling useful, I agreed. The fire truck was a memorial of sorts for the little three year old boy that had been killed here in Sonoma a while back. An awful accident in which he fell from a stroller in front of the path of a car. I hadn't thought that it would affect me, but once there and having moved the thing from its crate to the outdoor play area it was difficult not to be mindful of how tremendously sad its purpose there was, the result of something horrible, implacable.
I said my goodbye and walked to the car to go home. I was afraid that if I stayed any longer I'd ask everybody to say a quick prayer.
If I were not an atheist then I'd be an out of work minister, for sure. I seek out systems of nonsense, whenever they don't find me first. I'd be inviting troubled young girls to motel rooms to pray, imploring them to let Jesus into their heart, hugging them when the spirit takes us. Non-sanctioned baptisms, etc. I would carefully explain that the Lord smiles on any type of love and frowns on all those who would deny it. I'd make a great evangelical. I have the requisite emotional pitch for it.
Being on the news has never brought me the happiness that one might guess, though. They never want to tell my side of the story. At least I wouldn't have to used the word allegedly in every sentence.
There is a friend from the NY clubbing scene that has been fighting cancer. The messaging now is that they're going to make her as comfortable as possible for however long the next few weeks last. Everyone close is preparing for her transition, bracing themselves for the shock that they already know is coming.
I've done it, it's not easy - to feel relieved that someone is gone, that their suffering is no longer an open impossibility to bear. For weeks after my mother died I felt shame for having felt relieved that it was over. Is there anything that could be more selfish and natural. I thought that I would only be sad, with no idea that I would somehow find a way to make my own mother's death more about me than her.
There it is, always happening around you. You can't touch it, nor do you want to. I don't imagine that death is like watching a Bergman film any more. That was a youthful connection, one that could not possibly last under the weight of experience. It was a convenient vision of death that any naif might tote.
I recall a conversation from ago. A friend offered, Perhaps death will be so fantastic that we will regret ever having lived.
My cynicism could not stop itself, You need not wait until death just for that.... haven't you ever sung Bohemian Rhapsody in your car before?
It's never easy. As CS said, it is a significant moment in a person's life. CS must laugh at my modest experiences in this regard, reminding me that thoughts of one's own demise become no easier with age, only more frequent.
Even my old anarchist buddy is having a lump-scare in his throat. His mother passed away a couple years ago. His father in echo went not long after, nearly within the year. When the season returned he also hopped on, perhaps in hope of finding her.
The grenade-thrower with the mystery throat mass is still kicking and skipping along, though. Maybe I should not be writing about him now, lumping him in here with the dead and dying. That has been his fear, of course. It's sensible to be afraid of death. Every time we test it the results are conclusive. Nobody's prognosis looks good for long. When planning things out for you nature lacks an imagination.
I have assured him that his throat lump is purely menopausal but he has little interest or faith in western science. He is an enemy to capitalism, also, which is why he has refused to pay me for my learned diagnosis. I asked him how it was possible that he got genital warts all the way down in his throat, but then the question answered itself in an imaginative flash just as I was asking it. Oh, I see. I asked him to measure the distance from his lips to the lump to see if he could determine which man did this to him.
He's a goner, though, I'm certain of it. I've never been so sure of anything before in my life. I give him fifty years at the most, not an hour more, if he can learn to swallow food and get it past that lump of viral broccoli that occupies his windpipe. Anything beyond these next few months will be pure gravy. The revolution needs him. I have demanded that he empty his bank account so that we can enjoy life with whatever time he has left.
There should always be a few middle-aged revolutionaries around, reminding the kids that they're doing it wrong.
Friends, they've stopped making the old ones. My newest are from about twenty years ago - except for the one exception: Cato - my oldest buddies were made around 40 years ago. That means that there was a twenty year window in which I was actually friendly.
Can you imagine what a friendly version of me must have looked like?
Old and young, we are all on our last cruise. - Robert Louis Stevenson
(Post-kindness version, Q.2)