Sunday, February 19, 2012

the tie that binds

His neighbors found him hogtied on the floor of his room. No one knows who did it or even how he died yet, but it seems like his hospitality was taken advantage of cruelly. Since this happened in a gentrifying neighborhood that's extremely conscious of its image, it got no mention in the newspaper. One of his neighbors is a friend of mine who's a retired minister a few doors down in the assisted living community which is the only reason I know.

He asks if I can play music for the funeral service and there's no way I could refuse even though I don't know a few of the songs offhand and I'm still nervous about being front and center, but it's not about me and that becomes clear. I am only an accessory, some ambience to the grieving that needs to be walked through. These hymns are old and written by people from a time when death was a much more present thing and loss was even more common. At the old cemeteries I look at stones and think of parents who buried so many young children that they stopped even trying to give them long names. There's something so unnecessary about this life being snuffed out that just seems so wrong.

His neighbors show up, and some family and a few others, and I know none of them, even though they would have been my neighbors if I stayed at my old house. It hits me how often diversity is a red herring, because while there are many different people, their worlds are as separate as if they lived on two different planets. Some people whisper in Spanish, and the rippled of assents and amens reminds me of churches on the east side that my friends grew up in. I barely finish the last song because I'm trying so hard not to cry. The emotions are overwhelming but I know it's nothing compared to what they feel and I hope at least maybe I gave some comfort somehow.


  1. thanks for lending a hand, these efforts may not always be consciously recognized but their absence would be a cruel void.