Saturday, August 15, 2009

Atropos has a quirky sense of timing.

While I was busy dithering over the previous entry over the last two days, thinking about what it means to be dead and to wish for death, Death flanked me. While I was sitting at the Plaza, idly wondering at all the smokers and listening to a friend play the marimba, there were the most serious sort of news waiting to be told.

My uncle John died on Thursday at 3:05 in the afternoon.

As I alluded to it earlier in the summer, this is not a death that seizes me with hot anguish. It is likely I will not shed tears for my uncle. I do not admit this for the purpose of boasting: actually, it makes me rather uncomfortable to admit it to myself. It would feel more normal if I did cry.

Instead, when my mother called and told me the news this afternoon, I reacted in the way many people do-- I sort of... sat down. I made that sort of soft frown that we use when something is unfortunate, only the frown carried through to the rest of my body. Every bone and joint compresses a little more than normal. Every extremity moves ever-so-slightly more towards the floor, as though the gravity of the earth throbbed and increased by a small amount.

Just before I wrote this, I went looking to see if there was an obituary. I found one, indicated to run in Saturday's paper. As I scrolled through the list of names, it didn't really occur to me that they were all other loved ones, other people who had children and parents and friends and kin. I was just looking for "Thieme", his last name.

When I saw the name in the list, I let out a sigh. I didn't sigh because I was now able to confirm he'd died; that's what I'd expected would happen. I actually sighed because it was a visceral reaction to seeing a family name in the roll call. It was a gut reaction to a thought: "I know that person!", almost as though I was discovering the fact of his death for the first time.