Monday, March 16, 2009

Of Course, Death

Of course, Death comes like one of those. Oh. Those smiling evil geniuses with a knife. Comes to cut us all down to size.

Comes to cut off our conversation, our words bleeding from us in inarticulateness, pooling on the floor. In the bed. Making a mess in the carpeting. As we struggle to escape.

But we do not escape. Oh, maybe for a time. But then he returns like a Mormon evangelist in the summer. A young person. White shirt. Dark pants. Well-mannered. Book of Mormon in one hand. Scalpel hidden discreetly in the other.

Ding-dong. He’s baaaack!

So far, several teachers have fallen to him. All the important ones but one. George P. Elliott. Philip Booth. Hayden Carruth. W. D. Snodgrass.

Both parents in law.

A childhood friend. Boarding school acquaintances. Boarding school headmaster, who helped me through a difficult time.

Quite a number of random strangers whose hands I’ve held, whose medications I’ve delivered, whose sputum I’ve wiped, to whom I’ve read to pass the time.

Who’s next? I don’t know. It seems random, doesn’t it? Random as a madman.

He teaches us to number our days. And to make the words we have time to say, count.

The other day, I was reading the blog of a friend of mine. A very good pastor friend. And the responses he was getting! The comments that people who supposedly cared about him. People who are supposedly Christians. Supposedly God lovers. Supposedly neighbor lovers. The comments that they made. Were. Well. They were terrible.

It was like all of them had scalpels, white shirts, dark pants. Male and female. Holy books in one hand. Scalpels in the other. And I had an image of them all running up to the stage in my friend’s church, all stabbing together. Stabbing and stabbing. Until my friend was silenced by these friends, lying helplessly in his blood on the stage, expired.

Pupils fixed and dilated. Staring at the ceiling, like an imbecile.

With nothing more to say.

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