Saturday, October 25, 2008


Pete's got me thinking, again, this time about what happens when someone you love dies. He writes about the beauty he notices, the beauty of the world.

I notice the frantic way we live, and how hard the struggle is to keep fierce love and plain practicality in the same place.

I've had lots of practice at losing people I love. Death has shown itself with alarming regularity for much of my life. It doesn't get easier, but patterns do emerge. Each time is different, yet the same. The duality of life carries over into the way we are affected by its opposite. The process is always the same, or varies little, at any rate. There is some comfort to be had in that; what was at some point uncharted territory becomes a long, twisty road with recognizable signposts. The loss itself always remains uncharted. And the longer I live the more palpable the loss becomes. It used to be that the tragedy was what stood out: losing someone so young (not-quite-newborn, 15, 16, 18, 34, 38), losing someone so suddenly (within hours of being admitted to the hospital), losing someone in such a horrible way (being run off the freeway on-ramp; shot by insane spouse; passing out after huffing and inhaling vomit; drive-by shooting; prolonged illness following years of heroin use; cirhossis of the liver). Shock wears off, both the immediate and the long-term, and it wears off faster each time, I think. What happens now is a pointed thing, like two edges of paper rubbing together, an almost physical ache for the soul who's up and gone.

I regret not having told my grandfather the last time I saw him how very much I loved him. I think he knew, but it would be easier to know that he knew. I chose to act my age for once, that summer, and a 12-year-old is busy, after all. I regret, too, not having had a chance to get to know my cousin L. I met him only once, at my great-grandmother's funeral. I was 14; he was 28 and very handsome, extremely dashing, slightly mysterious. He flew back home after the funeral and I never saw him again.

Those two examples notwithstanding, I try to do everything I can so that the people I love know that I love them. Sometimes it's a bit much. I can go overboard. Sometimes it's misinterpreted. (See "I can go overboard".) But I'd rather err on the side of love and reassurance. I'd rather people think I'm too "out there" than cold. If I were to die today I am fairly certain that no one I know would be left wondering how I felt about them. It's probably not important to everyone. But it matters to me; I need to know if and when people love me, and so I need to let others know if and when I love them.

It's said that in war, each general is only fighting the last battle he knew. That is certainly true of me, and I wonder for how many others as well.


P said...

I am beginning to realize how important it is to *tell* people I love them as well as to do loving things. The latter is easier for me, somehow.