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Death and the Raven drift above...   —   Notes from a Marriage

Despite my penchant for the macabre, my passion for horror movies, and my dark sense of humor, I am not a morbid person. So the fact that I have been so distracted by death these past few weeks is rather out of character. It all began with a song. It is a song that my husband wrote with his band, I Disagree, and a song that I had heard at least a dozen times before. It's been one of my favorites and while I knew the lyrics I never associated them with our life, or more appropriately, our death.

Paradise is Empty
I know that one day I'll die
lifeless and gone; spent and expired
yes, I know that one day I'll die
lifeless and gone; finished, retired
not passed away
not moving on
no better place
no singing songs...
I know that one day you'll all die, too
with no one left
confessing I was right
we both can't be right
can't agree to disagree
somehow your conviction/ascension depends on me
or would you prefer, infinite sufferer,
self-manufacturing, infinite suffering?
those in paradise
relishing the endless cries
oh, that's right, you're all saved....

Adam is an atheist. He is without God, religion, or fancies of soul. He believes that when you die, you're gone. End of story. There are many of his ideas that I agree with, some which I do not, and while he operates on conviction, I remain unsure. And so one day while heading to work I started to play the I Disagree CD on my ipod, and when Paradise is Empty started to play I was without benefit of a live performance for distraction (he's really sexy when he sings), and without alcohol as a veil. It was just me, in the bright summer sun with flowers bending over the sidewalk and cats laying lazily on porches. Me, and suddenly, Death. It walked beside me but cast no shadow, because its shadow was my own. Death. Lifeless and gone, spent and expired. Not passed away. Not moving on. No better place. No singing songs.

I started to quietly cry. There, sitting at the bus stop with wires in my ears. And I wasn't crying for my own inevitable demise. I was crying for Adam's. Not because I believe in a better place and he doesn't therefore I was sorry for him, but because I don't. And quite suddenly I realized that the one person I love most in this world, would some day no longer exist, and in that moment I wanted more than anything for there to be a paradise. A paradise for him. And for the first time I felt as though I truly understood man's need for religion. Those beliefs comfort and protect, they cradle the harshness of death and soften its blow so that we may feel better about the people we love, dying. Or for some, gives them hope, as though death isn't something to fear but something that will ultimately take us away from the cruelties that living forces us to endure. And we will be rewarded.

Ever since then I've sort of been living within certain moments as though I'm already mourning the memory. Wondering how I will cope if I'm left to live without him. Realizing with a penetrating ache that every sense of self that I have is tied into my coexistence with his flesh and bones. His strength and resilience, his intelligence and humor, his handsome face and intoxicating scent are every bit a part of me as they are of him. The idea of his death is powerful and overwhelming. And for some reason I've never really thought of it before now. In my mind, Adam is a mountain, he's indestructible. Like when you're a child and you think your parents will live forever. It's heartbreaking to one day realize that even a mountain can crumble and fall.

More often I think of Commodore or Tsunami dying. Realizing that unless some unforeseen tragedy strikes down my life, that I will outlive them both. Since children are not in my future those two troublesome felines are my outlet for silly affections, playfulness, and maternal worry. I am constantly saddened by the thought of the day when Tsunami is no longer my feline-shaped shadow, and the day when Commodore's intensely knowing stare no longer searches my eyes for understanding. Death seems not like a part of life, but a horrible sacrifice the living must suffer through, a sacrifice of joy and of love. Perhaps now more than ever the absence of life seems unbearable. It is in these times that my sole comfort lies in the words of a poem by Wendell Berry. The line is, "I come into the peace of wild things, who do not tax their lives with the forethought of grief." It is then I remember to try to live my life without the worry and sadness of a time that has not yet come, but instead with the happiness that I so fiercely cherish today.

Posted 7.27.2008 3:26:40 PM

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