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Big night at the races for me tonight in that I did not come in last! I was actually fast(ish); placing in the burnout and nearly (like, eight inches nearly!) making it into the winners heat for a series of three lap scratch races. Here is a picture of my bicycle in celebration. I built it from the frame up, but I am keen to replace said frame, as this one is a bit large for me. It would be a good size for roadie trips, but it is too long for track riding. I digress, feast the eyes:
'Nuff 'bout me then, eh? Here's your Runner-Up for the night. I'm a dork and I like comics. More importantly, I help teach comics with an after-school program in Chula Vista, which I went to today before going out to race bikes. Anyways, I'm sort of a newcomer to the Graphic Novel Project, but as it is run by my roommate (the most epically dedicated teacher ever), I have the opportunity to get in there once a week and work with the kids to help them develop their writing and researching techniques. It is an amazing project. More on this later, since I swore I'd stop talking about myself!
Let's all bring the focus away from Mr. Pike and towards:
This post seems particularly apropos at the present juncture, as there have been several blog entries dealing with the dying of loved ones. It is perhaps the saddest of sad realities that, eventually, everyone you love will die, unless you die before them. Is this an unnecessarily macabre maxim to put into words? Do we strictly need to be reminded of this, ever, as though we might somehow forget the saddest of sad realites? Possibly, in both cases. The whole "death question" commands such gravity that there's no one rule to explain the ways and means of death in the world. It's the ultimate trauma of traumas and the final finality; the thing you can't get over because there's no "over" to get to.
Now, I admit that I can't speak authoritatively on all things "death," because both my parents and my three (3) younger brothers are still alive and well. I want that none of them should die, not ever. Irrational, but reasonable as I love them all dearly and hope that their lives should be endless and free of pain. The closest relative whose death I have experienced would be my grandmother (mother's mother) about seven (7) years ago. (Remember how I swore this would not be about me?) I don't need to say how torturous it was, or how she was the matriarch of a great family, the ties binding which have loosened dramatically since her death. I'm not in the position to say what her death did to my mother. Sure, I saw her fall apart over and over again for years afterwards, but who am I to say what she went through?
Which is sort of my point.
Maybe this doesn't go for everybody, but I highly doubt I'm alone in this (and perhaps I can move away from talking about myself here): in youth, there is this terrible conviction, "I and I alone can fix my family," particularly in the case of eldest children (like myself). Until something happens to change this perception, we can't help but try and shoulder family burdens, try to do our part for the sake of our families. The death of a grandparent challenges this belief in a major way. Usually, we are young when grandparents die and it will be the first--and maybe the only--time we see our parents completely inconsolable. We don't want to see our parents lose it so completely, become emotional wrecks. This challenges everything we know about family stability. It can rock our worlds to the core, shake the foundations of our lives. Naturally, we want to help.
And there is nothing we can do. No art or trick or practice that we have is up to the task of consoling a heartbroken parent. More often than not, we are the ones who need the consoling, having just experienced the death of a loved relative. Problematically, the parents towards whom we would normally turn for solace are suddenly and totally inaccessible to us.
When my grandmother died, it was the hardest thing in the world for me to accept that there was nothing whatsoever I could do for my mother. How was I supposed to fix my family if I couldn't even be there for my mother, to be her shoulder to cry on or to pat her on the back and say, "there, there, it's going to be ok;" what was I supposed to do?
She didn't need me. She needed her mom. I couldn't just be there for her in her time of need. That's not what sons do. Sons make you proud when they take their first real poops, take their first steps, say their first words, graduate kindergartenhighschoolcollege, or just simply breathe and be alive.
I'd say it was hard for me, not being able to do anything for her when she needed it, not being able to help her by just being myself, which is the thing that always was, is, and will be more than good enough for her. But, in that one instance, there was nothing I could do to fix things, to put them right and make the problems go away. That doesn't get unlearned.
Enough about me for the time being.