My friend texted me tonight, letting me know he was thinking about me, as he was watching a 60 Minutes story about Gold Star Parents–military parents of children that have died in service to their country. So Todd, this post is on you. 🙂
I realized a while back, that I rarely, if ever, say Brady is dead. Instead, I say Brady died. I think it is because I’m choosing a verb, over an adjective. I’m choosing an action word, a doing word. As in, Brady is still doing something, he is, in a bizarre way, living in his death. Dead is a cold descriptive word – a statement of fact – a fact I’d like to ignore.
As I watched the piece on Gold Star Parents, I once again, heard that the biggest fear of a parent dealing with the loss of their child, is that their child will be forgotten. I’ve heard it from people living with this, I’ve read it in numerous articles and blog posts, and I’ve lived it, and continue to live it.
At first, perhaps because I’m an introvert, that fear was directed within. The fear, was that I – Brady’s own father, his flesh and blood – would forget him. It was an intense and debilitating feeling, filled with fear and guilt. I was convinced I would forget my son, in some sort of cruel anti-memorial, ultimate punishment way. Eventually, and I suppose currently, it manifests in the fear that everybody else will forget Brady…. That the world will forget my son. It’s a biggie, and I’m learning it is as close to universal amongst grieving parents, as anything can be.
So tonight, I pondered why. Why this fear of forgetting, of other people forgetting, and the answer came quickly, and was exposing itself in my choice of words-died, not dead.
Think of what happens when you lose an expensive pair of glasses. At first, that’s weird, where are my glasses? They were just here? Wait, my glasses aren’t here. They must be over here, I always keep my glasses right here. Shit, they’re not here either. Well then they most certainly must be over there. Usually if they aren’t here, they are there. Fuck, no glasses. Okay, back to basics, go back to the last place you had your glasses, nope. So you start asking people, have you seen my glasses? Has anybody seen my damn glasses?
And so it goes, until, eventually, the glasses are gone. The acceptance that your glasses are not going to be found. You know they exist, but you just can’t find them, nobody can.
But in contrast, what if you find your glasses, you remember where you put them, and are so relieved to know you have not gone crazy, that the impossible loss of your glasses was just a momentary lapse in memory.
And thus, the fear of forgetting. Forgetting means, they’re gone. Forgetting means dead. While remembering means, he lives. He must live. So, given the choice between dead and died, forgive me if I choose died, and forgive me further as I still ask, Has anybody found my glasses? They were the first glasses I ever loved. Ya, the frame had a little bend in them, but I loved them just the same. They were one-of-a-kind, and for me, they were just right. Sure, I have other glasses, and I love those too, but they’ll never replace that first pair.
PS. I sure hope I got the verb vs adjective right, or I’m gonna hear it from Uncle Tom!