Sunday, September 21, 2008
death has been all around lately. like a bad smell, it follows me around. this smell, it sticks to my clothes and my fingertips so that it mixes with the smell of nicotine when I smoke. all those news of innumerable deaths, sporadic in frequency, but overwhelmingly frequent, nonetheless: the grim consequences of a tragedy in the high seas, and floods, and car crashes and murders in between.
closer to home, already, i've been to three funerals this year. all second-degree relatives, all deaths from a cocktail of everyday diseases, matured to a full ripe with complications.
i was there to witness their grief - and by 'them' i mean everyone else who wasn't me. it was much like what i saw in TV, only that the tears are not anonymous. and the smell is more pungent. i know these people, i grew up with them around: kissed their hands at family gatherings like the good niece i was, run to their biddings like the good niece i was, and now, after their deaths, i make sure to dutifully attend vigils, like the good niece i am.
but the good niece wasn't really here to grieve. i was here to be a spectator. i see the precarious threads from which my cousins' sanities are hung, but pushed to the sidelines, i sit silently enthralled in this strange circus of deaths.
this most recent death, i find myself racking my brains for memories of this aunt i grew up having around but i find i can hardly remember. conversations float around me: of what she was like, how she was the kindest person they knew. she was kind, true. she was human, more true. and i scarcely remember her and this i deeply regret as i avert my eyes every time they cross paths with those of my cousins.
those nightly vigils are filled with all these nameless faces, all vaguely familiar: faces morose when at an arm's length from the coffin, then suddenly shift to their everyday countennance - just another death. nothing to be all hyped up about.
i wonder if my face was like that.