I want to thank those who expressed their sympathies over my recent loss of my sister. It’s never easy, but it does help keep you centered when you have connections, however passing, that help tether you when you feel like evaporating into a vague, damp mist. Or would that be sublimating? Dunno. Don’t care.
There’s clearly a value in our death traditions. Our culture has this wierd fear complex with death, like ignoring it will make it go away. At the same time, our emotional makeup is such that we need a certain, perhaps abrupt severing of the emotional strings when someone dies. We like to call it “closure.” That’s a bit of a misnomer, since it takes quite a while for your brain to process through all the emotional stew that gets mixed up in there when someone you love dies.
But, still, it is closure. Standing there, looking into a casket, forcing yourself to confront what, up until that very moment, had been essentially a distant, intellectual exercise, brings thing into sudden, inescapable clarity.
And it sucks. A lot.
And then you ball your eyes out, sometimes in great gut-wrenching sobs. You try and stumble through your piece of the eulogy without completely losing your shit, or not. And then it’s over. Everyone else has filed out, and you find yourself lingering, still, glancing back at the still, pale face. Because leaving means finality. Means it’s really, really over. But then your realize, that you’ve got to go sometime. You’ve got to leave. Because it really is over.
And so you turn around, and you walk out. And go get really hammered.
But the next day, despite the miserable physical condition into which you hammered yourself the night before, you actually feel better. You’ve had release. You said goodby, you got some closure.
It doesn’t make it easy, but it makes it easier.
And then you’re left to deal with the what ifs, and I wish I wouldas, and if onlys. If nothing else, this has taught me what a bitch “tomorrow” is. You always think there’ll be tomorrow. I’ll see herlater. I’ll send her that email tomorrow. It’s too late tonight, I’ll call tomorrow.
And then suddenly one day there ain’t any more tomorrows. One thing that was burned into my brain, etched into the neurons, spray painted on the inside of my forehead is a phrase I came up with as part of my eulogy comments:
Do Not Let Tomorrow Steal Another Precious Moment From Today.
I pray daily now for the strength to live that idea.