Monday, November 1, 2010

Days of Death

We heard the news yesterday. Our neighbours' son had committed suicide.  He'd been missing for a couple of days, and the family was frantic.

A hunter found the body in a nearby quarry.  Now the family is devastated.  Nothing will ever be the same again: no sunrise, no sunset, no turn of the season, no lightness--or light--on the horizon.

We have words for nearly every loss but this one, Marike points out. Widow, widower, orphan.  But what do we call it when a parent loses a child?  It's unspeakable.  The kind of loss you do not recover from.

We gather in small groups at their house. Everyone brings food, but no one is hungry.  What I put in my mouth turns to stone in my stomach the mother says.

None of us know what to do, neither we nor they.  We stand around, talk, don't talk, some cry, some laugh.  Coffee percolates through the pot, over and over.

The food, Marike points out later, is an admission of impotence, of incompetence. See here, we're with you--we don't know what else to do either!

Finally I take my camera and walk along the road.  I frame dead leaves in the memory of this one, a reflection as I think of another.  The cold damp, the rotting leaves, the falling dark are apt, words without words on this sorrowful day.

We are all here to tend towards death, says another neighbour. This is true, but it is no consolation.

Remembering, among many, these near anniversaries:

Travis Watt (8 February 1976--28 October 2010)
Bill Readings (5 February 1960--31 October 1994)
Ann Smith (5 October 1918--25 November 2002)


  1. These images are so right for what feels too wrong. Your heartful eye finds appropriate glimpses in your world along the road. There is that much. Images forge connections, if not consoling at least instantiating, which is something when there is no longer gravity or balance or certainty.

  2. I find your image of the upside-down house to be incredibly poignant. At this time, in this horrible moment your image reflects an upside-down world. One which exists but is wrong somehow. In this moment the world is upside down. I am so deeply sorry to hear of this tragedy and feel your pain. You are all in my thoughts and prayers during this time.