Monday, November 7, 2022

We Didn't Hurry (Even Though it Rained)

The end will be grotesque. Endings always are. 

What I remember most about our first date - coffee in the Fire and Water Cafe after seeing Little Buddha at the Pleasant Street Theater - is you humming walking back to the car. That and how we didn't hurry even though it rained. 

The calf died choking to death on brandy. My father forced its head back while I watched from the basement stairs. I was not allowed to be near the calf while it died, much less hope it might be saved. I did help dig its grave. It was wrapped in burlap and we laid it on the wet grass while we worked. 

Dad himself died slowly over several weeks, mulling and dispensing orders about minor things we all promised to obey (e.g., who should get this pocket knife, who should get that crucifix). It was pathetic but on the other hand only a liar would promise to do better. He was given the same order I was as a child -  you fix this - and since kids can't fix anything, he learned how to stand a continuous wreckage. 

The trivial becomes nontrivial, what else.  

A day or so before he died, Dad mumbled "water" and I thought he said "God." I know, I know. But for a moment it seemed the whole promise of his suffering - which by extension and long-standing argument was the Suffering of the World - was about to be dissolved in God, Who is Love. 

In that moment, Dad's expasperation with me briefly animated the corpse he was almost finished becoming. Everybody laughed at me the way you do when the only other thing to laugh at is death, which isn't allowed. Every now and again somebody will bring it up: the time Dad was dying and asked for water and Sean tried to make it about religion. Only now do I get it, i.e., everyone's doing the best they can, maybe it's not your job to fix it.

My own death involves a diner where everybody leaves me alone because they know I'm only there to write. The waitress, who is my age, never says a word pouring the coffee. I just write and write and write until one day there is nothing left to write. A light goes on and it begins to rain. The waitress takes my hand and we leave together, the end. 

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