Thursday, February 14, 2013

Death at an early age.

Today, for most people, is Valentine's Day. For me, it's always been a day tinged with more than a little bit of sadness.

It's my sister's birthday.

It was my sister's birthday.

She's dead now, dying in a motorcycle crash nearly seven years ago. She was 47.

Nancy had a sad life. She got it worse from an abusive mother and a neglectful drunk of a father than either my brother or I.

Perhaps because we were boys. Perhaps because we were older. Perhaps we were stronger.

In any event Nancy's way of dealing with her horrors were often self-destructive. She ran away from home and lived with various men. There were hardly any drugs she didn't acquaint herself with. 

No matter how far and fast she ran, however, she could never run away. 

I suppose with her upbringing, you could say she was doomed from the start. And the Ducati motorcycle--bright red--that she hoped would transport her away, instead killed her.

She bought it on Saturday, May 12th. On Sunday, May 13th she was dead. Dead on 52nd Street and 12th Avenue in New York. She had swerved to avoid a drunk who was running across the road. She went ass over tea kettle, as they say. And the big bike crushed the small girl.

When I identified her body there were more parts bruised than unbruised.

She was still beautiful. Even in the fluorescent hum of New York City's morgue.


In our anti-septic, anesthetized era, we are told that we should "get over" pain. We should "put the past behind us." We should accept. We should heal. If "we love something, we should let it go."

In other words, we should "get a grip."

To me all these new age platitudes are merely the stuff of plasticine trinkets. They express how you feel as well as a .99 cent Valentine's card.

Emotions don't follow a calendar. There's no "right time" for you to "get on with your life." Sure, you have to cope and function and compartmentalize. But you don't ever have to give up your heart and your sadness.

I will carry my Nancy with me the rest of my life.

Her smile and her sorrow. Her few triumphs and her many defeats.

As her slightly older brother I tried to be there for her.

Sure, there were times when I was an asshole. There were fights we had where we didn't talk for months. There were stretches where I gave up on her. And let my stiff-necked-ness interfere with my love.  

I will never get over Nancy's death.

Nor should I.

-
VITAE SUMMA BREVIS SPEM NOS VETAT INCOHARE LONGHAM(The brief sum of life forbids us the hope of enduring long - Horace)

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

Ernest Dowson




4 comments:

Steve Silver said...

Beautifully written. And, of course, sad.

michael jacobs said...



Perhaps nothing in life transfigures us more than tragedy. What was it tharp Huxley said, "Experience isn't what happens to us, it's what we do about what happens to us.
I paraphrase but you no doubt see my intent. You have character in spades my friend. I admire that above all.

Michael

michael jacobs said...



Perhaps nothing in life transfigures us more than tragedy. What was it tharp Huxley said, "Experience isn't what happens to us, it's what we do about what happens to us.
I paraphrase but you no doubt see my intent. You have character in spades my friend. I admire that above all.

Michael

George Tannenbaum said...

Thanks, Michael. I hadn't known the Huxley. Hope all is well with you.