Monday, January 07, 2008

a boy

When I was in Boston a boy died. I haven’t talked about it much, though I find myself writing about it more and more. He was 19. He was attending the same art school I had attended when I was 19. We sat up and talked about drawing, the digital age and how we as artists, were losing the purity of the pencil.

We watched Jeopardy together and both of us failed the famous German artists’ category and we laughed at our ignorance.

He was always cold so I sat by him and tucked things in around him like a nest—a blanket, Katelyn’s scarf. I watched his parents wait on him; bring him flat ginger ale with lime. We joked about family. He was one of those people you might have walked by on the street—one you hope didn’t like you in high school b/c you didn’t want to cause him the pain of rejection. A boy, whose parents adored him, overly and he didn’t seem to go grow green in that love but stunted somehow, made pale.

I watched him though, notice a girl, a girl who had come to volunteer at the hospice where I was staying with my niece. I watched his face redden when she accidently brushed her skin against his. I believed then, the body an odd machine, how it hungers on, even the dying body continues to want, to desire. It never makes this conscious decision to stop. The heart always forgets mid beat.

I knew he was sick. I knew there was cancer in his liver and a month ago he had stopped art school. It had all happened so fast. He was dizzy while painting. I wondered when he would paint again. I wondered if he'd ever get laid. And I wondered somehow if we were connected and I used up too much life, I lived too many lives, had too many wants and if somehow I had used up his.

I wanted to give it back. I wanted to stop living so much...using up all the air in the room.

But the morning when I awoke, the shy boy was dead and what I wanted didn't matter. His parents were weeping in the kitchen and I helped the volunteer change the bed and sweep the floor. And I opened the windows even though it was snowing, even though the snow was coming in on the sill, the blankets, the bed. Everything was wet and I thought he deserved at least this---the wild wind, the cold of December.

I thought he deserved at least this.


LJCohen said...

T--this made me cry. especially this :

"how it hungers on, even the dying body continues to want, to desire."

Maybe this is the essential denial--the thing that allows us to keep breathing, to keep writing, to keep living, despite knowing the alternative.

Molly said...

So sad, so still.

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