It’s taken me now just about a month to come up with words to express my feelings of our time. I’ve thought about it a lot—nearly endlessly, to be honest. The words I would normally write feel cheap—because it hasn’t really gotten better, certainly not for many of us. And it might not get better soon, certainly not for some of us. And so, it is no longer an intellectual challenge for me to capture the energy of the moment—the feeling of our existence in this time and place. That feels, quite frankly, disrespectful. It is the great pause of our generation—and the great hurt of many others.
In reality, this period has done nothing except for making me feel like a helpless child. A year since my uncle’s suicide, and too busy and exhausted by our timeline to grieve it as I would have wanted, I’m finding myself bewildered, but calm.
My memories are regressing, to younger days and earlier years. Formative lessons. Ideologies. The person I was, and the one that I became. A very real and sudden juxtaposition between the beautiful and the cruel, and making peace with the fact that, sometimes, these two things walk the same line.
Instead, here is a memory, at least until the hurt has softened a bit more.
When I was young, my father showered in the bath adjacent to my room. He would come in early in the morning, when it was still dark, and wake me—so I could fall back asleep to the sound of water pouring just outside my door.
He told me the story of a man, a Hollywood producer, who was very old and very ill. On his deathbed, he had one final wish: to hear the rain upon his roof. His assistant—or his wife, the story blurs—went out and bought a sprinkler. She attached it to the hose outside his bedroom, and pointed it towards the house.
There he lay, the small and faded remnant of a man, thin and sallow, waxed poetic in his resting words. With dried tongue and tired lips, he closes his mouth, and then his eyes, and listens. The rain, the soft lullaby of water on his roof—how it carries him to sleep, and then to death.
I loved the story. I begged my father to tell it, time and time again. I had it memorized inside my head. The picture of it all—the 1970’s style house, with the grass lawn and the dark forest green slatted sideboard. His assistant, in her peach heels and business skirt, juggling a notebook in her hands, sinking down into the mud. The giant trees that shaded his front yard. The windows to his room, with the closed drapes—how the light from an overcast sky drifted in, but only through the cracks. How he dies alone, in a bed with dark mustard yellow sheets, with no one by his side except the sound of all that rain cascading down his roof. It was perfect.
And so, my father would wake me in the mornings, when it was still dark. In the hallway, I could see the warm glow of the bathroom light. The door would close, and leave behind a yellow line that broke through the crack. I would fall back asleep to the sound of water, the warmth of steam as it carried through the air into my room.
It was perfect.