Death By Installment: Introduction

People die. They do. Everyone dies. We’re born, we live a life, and then it ends-we die. Everything ends.

So why is it that one life–one death–is sometimes insurmountable? What happens? Is it that a connection is made that tethers us to the dead, and release will not be given? Is it that we are weak and can’t let go? Is it that we suffered a trauma that needs attention so that we might recover from the death of a loved one?

This isn’t an adolescent rumination on Death. I’m just trying to come to terms with my own particular case. I need to go out and be productive right now, so I’ll need to do this in installments. The impulse to write about this came from seeing two films over the last three days: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Seven Pounds. These two films are different in many ways. One similarity they share is the effect they had on me as I sat in the theater; at one point, I wanted to get up and leave.

I was writing in my journal on the train ride home after seeing Seven Pounds yesterday. It occurred to me that I never sought the sort of help that might have helped me get past some of the grief issues related to my wife Siri’s death. It occurred to me that maybe I suffered some sort of (I choke on the use of this word) trauma from the experience of seeing her through her last days and having her die at my side. I did not do well toward the end, and the year following her death was a lost year. I lost myself.

I understand this might all be very cryptic. Many biographical details need to be provided. I will get to that soon. But now I need to go feed a friend’s cats, and I need to start packing my apartment for moving on December 30. So I will write this by installment. I need to promise myself that I will go forward with this. I also need to make sure I call that therapist on Monday. It’ll be good to talk some of this stuff through. Maybe he’ll put me in touch with someone who does grief counseling.

One thing I know is this: when mediocre films like Seven Pounds find a way to upset me by recalling my past, there must really be something wrong with me. Or…there is always the possibility that what I am feeling is normal…is it that I won’t or can’t let myself feel true sadness? Is it that I skirt around it and feel morose and miserable but never let myself be pulled all the way in, because I am afraid of never coming back out of it?

One other thing: an internet amiga wrote this on Twitter.

Come back to town Peter Falk! I want a sketch of you, BY you. peterfalk.com for $100? That’s a steal!!1!

And this was my reply.

“Come Back To Town, Peter Falk!” That sounds like a play title…who’s writing it? (Maybe me…)

The subjects that came to mind were memory and regret. The News reported recently that Mr. Falk is suffering from Alzheimer’s. I adore his acting work and was saddened by this news. I wonder sometimes if memory is not my nemesis when it comes to getting past Siri’s death. And then right now writing this I realize what a crock of shit that is. It’s such a lame excuse. My nemesis is me.

One last thing: the Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief. Remember that. Work through those. Get some help with it. And then just deal with it. It’s not that I haven’t gotten on with my life. It’s that I am living a second life while that first one has been left to rot. There is little connection between the Tim of Then and the Tim of Now. Except for the ache. And that is doing no one any good. They say that pain is a warning sign. When am I going to heed the warning sign?

Oh, and maybe I can also acknowledge my own experiences with death and illness.

At the root of it all is a fundamental lack of compassion by me for me. It’s an old problem.


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