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Archive for November 2nd, 2010

Today is the Day of the Dead, an event marked with celebration in Mexico, which is an idea that pleases me mucho.

The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the indigenous cultures. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500–3,000 years.

There is something so rational about skeletal characters parading around cities while sugar skulls and bottles of tequila, mezcal and pulque get offered up for their “spiritual essence”, then consumed by those still living.

It makes more sense to me than dressing up as superheroes or princesses and ignoring the whole death thing, as seems to be more the case in the US.

Death being the one thing we should all be positive about as an eventuality, it is amazing how surprised most people are by it, and how stubbornly negative. As the ancients put it:

There’s nothing certain in a man’s life except this: That he must lose it. ~Aeschylus, Agamemnon

No one knows whether death is really the greatest blessing a man can have, but they fear it is the greatest curse, as if they knew well. ~Plato

Death may be the greatest of all human blessings. ~Socrates

Yeah, yeah … all that wisdom does jackshit for bringing any cheer when we someone we love dies. FUCK! There’s not a day I breathe that doesn’t have the fact of my son’s death rattling agonizingly somewhere inside me, and that will not stop. Nor should it.

A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own. ~Thomas Mann

It’s been 17 months today since Jaren died, and although I do now manage some days in a row without tears, I carry the loss of him wherever I am. As his mother, that’s not only my job, it is my privilege.

He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. ~Albert Einstein

Although I would not choose to picture the dead I love dancing in their bones, there is something very comforting in the fact that some do see the life in that, and having loved a Mexican for a long time I can so fully appreciate the bright colors, the music, the fiesta, the food and family, that can make a party out of death, and wish I’d had some of that growing up.

Instead, as Dia de los Muertos comes around this year, what I get is dreams … and that’s okay, too. I see my son in what I consider visits, not all pleasant, but I’ll take what I can get. Some are disturbing, but what’s more disturbing than having a dead child? I can take it.

In something that could almost seem like weird symmetry, my mom’s husband died yesterday. He was not a man I was close to in any way, but she was, and her loss is tremendous. He was 80 and sick and probably more than a bit tired of being 80 and sick, so I have to assume this turn of events in easier on him than it is on her.

A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless, to resist. ~Stewart Alsop

I’m spouting what I can of words of comfort and hoping it takes only a small toll on her health and well being … she being neither young nor spectacularly healthy, herself … but I know only too well, as does she, having lost her father when she was only 12, that dealing with death is a game of solitaire.

For the moment, I can give her only this:

People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad. ~Marcel Proust

So, while in Mexico skeletons cavort carelessly … and how else would a skeleton cavort? … in celebration of death, the living cope as they can, not only with their dead, with with the idea of their death.

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
The Carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality
~Emily Dickinson

Feliz el Die de los Muertos, todo. Feliz …Celebre, mi amor!

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