Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Goodbye, Harry

Death is not something one wants to write about, unless perhaps it is a story of escape. Still, it is part of what we think about as we live, even if we don’t admit it. It is no stretch to say that it is what living is all about: avoiding death, preparing for death, accepting death, even welcoming it when it seems inevitable or preferable.

Grief, on the other hand, is something else. Grief is for those who remain. It is a window through which we look at the past and the future: a time when the one lost was with us, and the time ahead when there is only memory.

This was one of those times, one of those weeks, when death and life seemed very much more in our thoughts as a family: one member giving up the fight (as painlessly as possible), and at almost the same time, another receiving a chemically-induced reprieve. Coming almost on the same day, these events have given us all more to think about than perhaps we would wish. But that is what life is about, too: confronting the elemental emotions that make us more human than we sometimes acknowledge. For we are only mere humans. We may overcome some of the fears our kind are born with: of the dark, of the unknowable and the unknown, of the light that blinds. Overcome them, but fear them still.

The changes that death brings are often subtle, shading the meaning of each day. We look back and remember something we should have done, or something we did that we wish we could undo. Our thoughts, while seemingly about another, are really focused on ourselves, on those who remain.

With all the words a writer may command, one is still un-prepared to say the things that matter, that will perhaps make going easier for the one leaving and the ones left behind. In the end, the only word we have is goodbye.

Goodbye, Harry.

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