Monday, March 7, 2016

Mistakes? Life.

One of the philosophies I took from my family is that life would not be worthwhile if it were not for the differences among us. It would be boring for everyone to hold the same beliefs, no matter how “right” we may think our own are. We might never learn, if we never had to open our minds.

Likewise, joy is only enhanced by sorrow. If we have not known want, or sadness, then having, and happiness are not fully defined.

When Loretta sings, “why is that old drunk still livin’, when a daddy like mine is dyin’?” – I KNOW that question. I have asked it, in anger and in sadness. And I know her answer. It is as much a part of my family as the red clay or steep hills where my mama was born and grew up, or the white house on the hill where my daddy did.

The elegiac beauty of her song does not make it easier. It does not make the answer more acceptable. And yet. It states the simple facts.

In my family, that fact was summed up thus: life is not fair.

Taking succor, even rapture, from the relativity of joy and sorrow, of cold and warm, of frustration and fulfillment … is one thing.

Taking that on, and looking at the little baby she sings of – twisted – or the child who is blind … remains incomprehensible.

We learn from the difficulties in our own lives, and we even learn from those around us who suffer.

Yet it can feel so dirty. So awfully wrong. To watch someone face death, with more grace than you have ever seen, and to understand that death teases, plays, and delays. That it will not COME, even long after the point where this person has begun to beg for it.

I can accept that my dad only got sixty-five years, when people who seem to me not even to care about their lives – or who are just selfish – get to live on and on and on.

It is harder to accept the cruelty that is hardship suffered with no relief, or suffered by one who cannot comprehend their agony.

My elder niece, when she was only three or four, once said, “I think it would be better if everyone could be a LITTLE sick, instead of one person being VERY sick.” She said this when my dad was dying.

She’s no damned fool, my elder niece. Never was. Not even at three or four.

And the heartbreak is this: life can’t be had on egalitarian terms.

Life is not fair.

And, as beautiful as that can be, as bittersweet and gorgeous as some of our moments of pain can be …

… it hurts. It sucks.

And it STILL beats the alternative. As bad and as poorly designed and even as stupid as it is. It’s still the best thing going.


Donnaeve said...

Is this close to your dad's passing? Mine was March 3rd. A year!

This was such a heartfelt post. A bit of southern flavor crept into some of your sentences, and revealed another level of writing.

I had a good talk with Mom the other day. (I call her Mom, not Mama, although I grew up here in NC, and Dad is Dad, not Daddy. It's Mom's influence on me, her Northern accent which sounded like French to my Dad's family, most likely, when she arrived in 1956) She looks different to me now. I can't quite put my finger on it. Yes, she's smaller seeming. More frail. Definitely sad faced. Yet, it's something else. I told her I'd only known her with Dad, and without him at her side, it's like looking at a half instead of a whole. She said, "that's how I feel, too."

Le sigh. It sucketh.

Lennon Faris said...

Oh I've thought about this so many times. Nicely put into words. Your niece sounds like a very grown up little gal... Little minds will never cease to amaze me. Life is so uneven and unfair sometimes. I guess this is part of the reason I like stories so much. In an alternate reality, we can MAKE karma happen. Stories won't ever take away the hurt in 'real' life, but sometimes, they help.

DLM said...

My dad was earlier in the year. This post was about someone now, whose life feels like a series of emergencies and pains, and who deserves peace. My mom looked different after dad died too; i know what you mean, so well.

I did call dad daddy sometimes when he was living, and I call mom mama now and then. Usually for specifically-evocative reasons - to invoke the Southern twang, to connote a certain affectionate possessiveness.

Lennon, she's now eighteen, and "poised" does not even cover it. She's savagely intelligent and funny, and yet a very soft heart. She and her sister own me outright; I am in awe of my nieces.

You're right about stories - and writing. I once wrote, about a woman facing loss of her station and her "clan" as it were - about to be ostracized because she had acted shamefully by social standards - "To be the queen, she agreed to be the widow!" What I meant by that line was, we all sign up for the possibility of loss when we form relationships ... and we tacitly agree to the terms of that loss. That line has resonated with me for a long, long time. I may have written it not long after my father died.
(As for "my father" ... another curiosity of nomenclature

Thank you so much for coming by! :) I love seeing y'all.

DLM said...

Donna ... the change in expression: she no longer has him to look at. And so the manifestation of her outlook - her literal outlook, and the loss of his reflection in her face ...

Yes. That.

It's been 13 years since my dad died. And she's going to have to do it again. That Gibran I linked ... "you are weeping for that which has been your delight" ...

Donnaeve said...

Yes, that way of capturing it is perfect (manifestation of her outlook, loss of his reflection in her face)

This is why you're a writer.

DLM said...

We're writers because we have to be, aren't we. Because of life.

Lilac Shoshani said...

Beautiful post, Diane. Sometimes I see those who cross to the other side. It looks so beautiful there. And sometimes I feel like I'm getting a glimpse into some grand cosmic plan, even when confronted with saddening events.

Still, grief can tear my heart apart. Maybe to allow the light to come in. As Rumi had said: "The wound is the place where the light enters you."

Sending lots of love and hugs. ((( <3 )))

DLM said...

Lilac, thank you - you operate at a spiritual level beyond mine, but I understand what you mean.

"It is G-d's will" has never satisfied me, but as I grow older, what I see is that life is not about my satisfaction. THAT is what my parents meant by "Life is not fair." We so often define justice and morality and goodness by our own satisfaction with outcomes.

Nobody gets what they deserve - and that may include the satisfied and comfortable more than those who suffer. I've always been loath to claim I deserve this or that good thing or reward - but I know all too well some of what I do deserve (and yearn for) and am denied. "It is not right!" I say to G-d. And all G-d can say is, "I know."