Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Weight

Oh, man.
How do you tell someone you love that someone they love is going to die?
Right now the Bagel is going through some hard stuff.
I come from a big family. Nine aunts and uncles on my mother's side. Thirty-three first cousin. I had an uncle, Don Whaley, who promised to give me a pony if I would come live with him in Texas, who gave me bubble gum against my mother's express wishes and who worked with B.F. Skinner in behavioral psychology and is one of the founders of the discipline, and he told my aunt Nan once at a funeral, "Nanny, we've got a lot of people to bury." My uncle Don, the smartest man I knew, died when I was four and we buried him on Halloween. He was an amazing person, and every day I hear his words in my head.Oh man, was he ever right.
I am 31 and I have attended 17 funerals. One of them was for him.
I had four grandparents, like everyone else, I guess. But I have attended the funerals for all of them, each one successively more difficult.
What do I tell my husband, as he experiences tremendous loss for the first time?
I can tell him it's survivable.
I have lost many people I love. Although in the moment, it feels like you can't make it, you always do.
At the same time, I am never more afraid than when when I think of losing him, or my parents, or my brother or my sister (from another mister). I don't know how I would survive these things, so who am I to tell him he will survive this?
I can tell him to do everything he can to tell his grandfather he loves him while he has the opportunity.
At the same time, you can never tell the person who is leaving you how much they mean to you because you can't tell them how much you don't want them to leave you.
I've been through this, but I've never been through this.
All I can tell him is that he can be sad, but I'm scared of a sadness this big.
My first test as a wife, and I feel like I'm failing.
This is the weight.
To love someone is to make two promises; it is not only to say "I will love you now", it is also to love that person when they leave you, to say "In my heart, I will love you always", it is to admit that life is not the same without them.
And this, my loves, is the hardest thing to tell someone you love when they are dying. It is the hardest thing to tell someone you love when someone they love is dying: that their love is terrible and wonderful and a blessing and a curse, that the love for them made you who you are and when they die they take that with them. That we are not the same when someone we love dies.
I know I am not the same. Nor will he be. But that he will make it. Because there is no god damned alternative. Not under my watch. No.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

“So You Want A Social Life, With Friends,”

Some of you know that I am a great advocate for and defender of modern poetry.Below is an example of why.
It comes from the poet Kenneth Koch a modern American poet who embraced the exuberance of (some) post modernists while refusing to mire his work in ridiculous navel-gaze-y self-aggrandizing experimentation. It is, however, lovely and melancholy and brilliantly observant of human behavior. I truly love the plethora of poetry on YouTube,everyone should take the time to check a few out.

This, by the way, is a portrait of Koch by the wonderful artist Alex Katz.