Saturday, August 12, 2006


How quickly he joined the past tense!

You could have almost marveled at it, if you were disposed to doing so. One moment the man is alive and well and kissing his wife goodbye and wincing at his sunburn as he pulls his sweatshirt over his back, and the next is "Did you know him?" and "He was a good man" and "They're going to bury him in Minnesota, that's where his family was from, you know." Suddenly no longer there, no longer actively affecting others. Affecting others with his absence instead.

Birth, you thought, was not really like that at all. Birth and death were the bookends of life (or were they? These debates on when life really started were confusing, and was it at conception, at birth, three months in, or what?), but birth was gradual. Giving birth took hours and the pregancy took months. Death was the opposite. Death was decisive, death was quick and sudden and irreversible. One was dead when the line was flat, when the heart stopped beating for good, when the chest stopped rising and falling, when the eyes stopped responding to light. Death was harsh and obvious, and after the first few hours when you thought they could still save him, bring him back, life-changing near-death experience you can laugh about a little and all that, well, after those few hours you gave up and let them pull the plug and sat in shock for a while on the plastic chair and then you went home and when you woke up you expected him to be there and then you remembered that he wasn't.

But it took a long time until you really realized that he was gone forever. You knew it on the surface, and you knew that it was going to hit you for real sometime, but nevertheless when it happened you reeled from the blow, you pushed it back, you tried to make it more gradual (like birth). You did what you were meant to at first, wore the black and acted somber and even cried dutifully somehow, but not with those wracking sobs that hurt your chest that came later, though you tried to stop them. Denial was less painful, denial made more sense. Birth was gradual, thus death should be. So he wasn't really dead.

The gravestone said "rest in peace" but that just made you mad. Rest in peace? Why rest in peace? The man lived in peace! Why rest in peace? His life was not war. His life was great. He was happy. Why not take someone miserable instead and bring him back? Rest in peace, well, maybe he is, but peace isn't what he wanted. What he wanted was to live. He was a man with a love of life in him. Take somebody else, that kid who's always whining about wanting to just leave this world, the old man who's blind and degenerating, someone not in the prime of his life. What was he being punished for? He didn't want to die. Why did he die?

And you just couldn't wrap your mind around it, because there was no reason. "God's eternal plan," they said, but what was it then? Why did God's eternal plan involve him dying just then? You couldn't see his death affecting something major. It made those who knew him sad, but it didn't change the world, not in a huge way. It was senseless and stupid and impotent and why would God do something like that? Didn't Nietzche say that God is dead? Maybe God is dead, that makes more sense than the death. But the driver didn't mean for it to happen, of course, he's broken up about it, and why should there be an accident? In a sane world accidents do not happen. It's not that they weren't careful, both of them. It was just bad luck, really. Awful luck.

But that's not fair, you thought. Luck? Since when is luck what determines someone's life? (It happens often really, you guessed, what with the preemies and cancer and bombs and all, it's all luck of the draw, but somehow that logic doesn't work when it comes to accidents. Accidents just don't make sense at all. Accidents should stop existing.)

And when you looked at the grave it just made you mad because the death did not make any sense and you wanted him to come back and it wasn't fair and you didn't understand it and it wasn't fair. You had to move on, of course, and you managed okay, but thinking about it was despairing a little because clearly you just didn't get the way this world worked, because his death didn't fit anywhere in your comprehension of the world. It was a bad blow. It was entropy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


The baby was large for his age, always. But very good. Very quiet.

He liked the cat, liked to cuddle with it. Kind of sad, actually. One night he took it with him to bed. Cuddled it, you know, squeezed it. We woke up in the morning, went to check on the baby. Covered in blood. Poor thing. Blood and fur. He'd squeezed the poor cat to death. It couldn't escape. It had exploded, or something. We cleaned it up. Rather horrified, really. That was when we really first realized how strong he was. He didn't know his own strength, of course. He was a baby!

But then of course the thing with the snakes, that didn't surprise us at all. A good baby. Just very very strong.