I just had to write another obituary. I won’t say they’re fun. They’re not. There’s truth in everything you write, right? That’s why you do it. And the truth of someone dying is awful. But it is easy.
And maybe satisfying?
It’s not hard to honor someone with a few short words. In Dick Clark’s case, he’d done it already. For decades he signed off with “For now, Dick Clark… so long.” And by tweeting, blogging, posting his own six words, every mourning music lover remembers the sad 60 minute mark of their favorite episode of American Bandstand. For me, it’s James Taylor performing Fire & Rain. Won’t you look down on me, Jesus.
It’s also direct. I know how to write an obituary. I know what needs to be said. I know what I’m feeling and I know what I want you to feel. Even at this moment, the truthful end of a man I’ve never met has left a slight swell right behind the wall of my eyes. And I guess that’s what words were designed for. Verbalizing clear thoughts.
It’s a lot harder when you don’t know what you’re thinking. When someone dies, I hear people speak things like “I’m at a loss for words,” but are you? Maybe there’s just not that much to say. Maybe 140 characters is all you need. It’s an awful thing and you’re very sad. Say that and you’ve said it all.
But on a day-to-day basis I have much more to say. Why else would I have started a blog that no one reads? To be acknowledged? In the hopes that one day someone will pull six words they read on a viral posting board and mark my own truthful end?
I don’t know. The cyclical structure of essays says that I started with that thought, and so I have to bring it back. You can’t introduce something without it eventually effecting the crux of the story. The end is in the beginning. Chekov’s gun.
But the last line of The Seagull is “Konstantin has shot himself.”
I’m told the Russian text is slightly more ambiguous. “Konstantin has fired a gun at himself.” Which in the play he’s already done without much success. There’s no clear implication that Konstantin has died.
Either way, I’m not going to shoot myself. I’m just trying to use a keyboard to let out all that junk inside my head without the use of a bullet.