Friday, June 26, 2009

On Mourning

Michael Jackson, an icon in the music world, died yesterday and the news coverage of this event has been enormous. Footage of sobbing fans at candlelight vigils, making shrines to St. Michael, King of Pop; interviews with a rabbi in Finland (his spiritual advisor), fellow musicians, acquaintances, record producers, his lawyer, his neighbors, random people on the sidewalks of New York and Paris and London. Did he leave a will? Who will take custody of his children? Did his 'enablers' contribute to his suspected abuse of prescription drugs? How much was he in debt? They want to do an autopsy. Oh my God I can't Be-LIEVE it. Were you shocked? How does it make you FEEL? What are your thoughts about it? How are you coping? Play old clips over and over and over and over, 24/7. Let's take a short break now for some news: North Korea threatens to annihilate America. Now back to Los Angeles, we're awaiting a press conference. Stay tuned for more on the Michael Jackson "story."

Is it just me, or does this excessive detailing of Every. Possible. Angle. on celebrity and/or crime events eventually reach a saturation point? There IS other news out there today ... isn't there?

I was remembering a funeral I once attended. And that at my father's funeral, it didn't rain. In keeping with the mood, I thought that it should have. You're all sad and weeping and there's the sun, shining away, birds singing, a beautiful day. The scene doesn't fit the mood. The sun, it seemed to me, was a little too, well, "sunny." My mother's funeral took place in the middle of a blinding snowstorm and half the people couldn't get there. Again, nature seemed to intervene, as if to say, hey, the ceremony is just a ceremony, a dreaded performance where you dress up and play a part, act out your final goodbye, read lines that barely touch the surface of what you really feel, a devastating rendez-vous everyone has to go through, then you go home and succomb to the overwhelming emptiness: Your loved one is no longer THERE.

Even when you expect it, the actual event still comes as a shock. Everyone mourns differently. The dead, I think, somehow understand this. Daydreaming, I imagined this scenario: a woman mourning her husband--a soldier or firefighter or bricklayer or accountant or musician or writer, it's not important--she's present physically but absent emotionally, numb with grief and completely Alone, despite the outpouring of sympathy and support--when she suddenly senses him there, beside her.

One That Didn’t Come Back

I’m sorry for your loss
the officer said.
I’m so sorry for your loss.
My sympathies.
Accept my

I thought it would rain but it didn’t.
It should have rained today
like it does in the movies, at funerals.
Sombre skies, chilling winds …
but no,
we have full sun.
Blazing, burning, blinding, brilliant
People wipe the sweat from their faces,
squirm, all sticky
in their plastic chairs,
wishing they were back
in their air conditioned homes.

I’m sorry for your loss
I didn’t know him, but …
The flowers wilt.
The priest drones on.
I can imagine you rolling your eyes,
a small smile slowly sliding across your mouth
"Oh for Pete’s sake
Get on with it."
I’d forgotten how much I loved
your laughter.

Past tense.
I miss you, dammit

I’m sorry for your loss,
the officer repeats.

-- awyn

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