Y’know that scene in Attack of the Clones? When they’re in the Naboo Cruiser and they’re being chased by the Trade Federation. And something happens to the roof of the Cruiser, and they have to send the droids out to fix it. So the droids are out there, hard at work, fixing it. Then one gets shot off, then another. That’s what life is really like.
You’re out there working, fighting for survival in your realm, survival taken care of at this level of society, or rather survival taken for granted. We take survival for granted in this realm of working a job for decent pay in the northeast corridor of these United States. But we keep our heads down as in nose to the grindstone and we work our brains down to the neurons.
And as we move on, as life moves on, and more and more are lost, long spindles of memories connecting us to them, me to old dead friends, to the past selves who we sacrificed to be the we who we are now, the lonely desperateness of mortality sinks in. Spindles of memory like gossamer threads, like filigree, and all will eventually be melted down.
I stand on the subway so I don’t miss my stop. I stand even though I could fall out the door, could get pushed, could tumble if the train takes a wrong turn, could be faced with the outstretched hand of a beggar and have to look into their eyes and realize that he does not take survival for granted, could strain my shoulder from carrying this heavy bag full of books and a hot tea and lunch.
Sudden instant death will find all of us and our friends eventually. And I feel isolated in my mortality. I feel terror of death for the grief of husband and son who would be left behind. I’ve watched my husband take on grief and it crushed. I watch from afar as others do. Once it took me five years to start grieving and then five years to stop.
In grad school I talked to a classmate (a friend? Are we friends? And I’m reminded of my grandmother who very pointedly said “everybody’s her friend,” and stamped her foot, because everyone, as we know, is not our friend). We spoke of faith, this classmate and I, and I professed that I had none. Tears welled up unwilled and she said “you grieve for you faith.”
I do grieve it, as much as I work at it. The faith I had in the all consuming love of God, the glorious sacrifice of the Christ, was of a time and place that I can’t recapture. I work at it bc it felt better than it feels without it. Without faith we’re droids on the shell of a Naboo cruiser in a mediocre movie about everything unknown we could ever imagine, boiled down to a trade disagreement, fought to the meaningless death.
I want that faith in life and death back, and I fight my conscious mind for it. In those moments I achieve it I feel peaceful, until it spins back to quivering mortal fear.
All the love for your lost. And mine.
Friend: That’s so bleak.
Me: But it’s true. That’s what it is. I realized recently that someday, and soon, I’m going to have to explain to my kid that people are not immortal, and more importantly that he is not immortal, that We are not immortal, and all I can think is that he’ll ask why not?
Friend: It would be so much better to be immortal.
Me: All those reasons in vampire movies about why it would be bad to live forever don’t make mortality any better.
Friend: Kids know they are not gonna live forever. It’s built in.
Me: I feel nauseous.
Friend: Maybe your jeans are too tight.
Me: Are you kidding? My jeans are not too tight, I look great in these.
Friend: They’re tight enough to be making you sick.
Me: Let’s start over, can we start over?