Cruel Dirge of Departure

The clouds hung ominously over the household, presiding with a neglected terror that seemed to leave the minds of those inside from time to time, but still it lingered. It lingered because it was an actuality, a truth in their lives since conception, that this cloud was always a threat, harboring within it a great rancor of the world, not specifically aimed in premeditated malice, but simply a rancor. And whenever the inhabitants would glimpse upon it, they had to accept the upcoming horror, but somehow deluded themselves, fancying a blind optimism to whisk the cloud away in their minds, it appeared everyday to them that it was dying. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. The cloud expanded aggressively, seizing the light around it with a vicious gluttony, and consumed every morsel of hope that slipped through, for it truly was inevitable, and they were fools for not realizing. Perhaps seated in their minds was the true image of this cloud, but towards the climax of its existence, they could have sworn, with an utmost mirthful declaration, that it was almost vanished, slipped back into the subconscious of the past, a bad dream. That whatever darkness the world held could not apply to them, but to someone else, but unfortunately, to everyone else, they are someone else. It lingered, reaching with its somber arms and culminating in a darkening rage, until that moment where they looked out, these people oppressed by tragedy, and said “My, what a lovely day.” It wasn’t.

                  The boy looked out onto the downpour, the pattering of raindrops ticking at his sanity, like the beating of some hidden heart, severed and mad, and his eyes mirrored the window, streaming with tears. The room was dreary, darkened by the dreadful overcast, and the walls limped with a monotone bitterness to them, cold and whimpering. There was no one in the room, save the boy, and he looked out into the storm, confused and tormented, and he was cold. He was shivering and the tears seemed harden on his cheeks, the clattering of teeth filled the room with a nervous droning. He couldn’t see beyond his window for the murkiness was far too intense, his own eyes were reddened and blurred as well. He was confused, upset by what had occurred, unable to understand what had just happened, and worse, he felt alone. Truly alone. And he was maddened, aloof from the immediate shock of the news, and could not think clearly, so he went outside, where he went to think, and was drenched in his own misery. And he sat in the rain, trying to piece together what had happened, and faster and faster his mind jolted into angry jolts of thoughts, profane words erupted from his mouth, setting the thunder of his own rage, to try and conquer the storm, but it didn’t work. It was still there.

                  Then, he heard a voice, a familiar voice, although not sure why it was so, but it was, and it spoke calmly, asking, “Were you close?” The boy, pondering on these words, answered not in speech but in a collapse, a breakdown of his own mental fragility. His tears rushed forth, searing his eyes as they scraped across his cheek, and his breathing was pitifully broken, a series of whimpering gasps. Fluids of all sorts were pouring onto his face, none of them merciful and none of them relieving, but a cluttered mess of emotion hardening on his face. There was a dumb absence in his mind, a cold emptiness that served only to allow the fear and the pain crawl in, a parasite of passion, and feed of his love. And he was again, freezing, alone in the rain save the soothing voice.

                  It asked again, accepting the answer given to it, “Why are you out in this rain? It’s freezing. You should go inside. It’s warmer.”

                  Finally, the boy returned, crying slowly, “No it’s not. It’s so cold in there, so cold. There’s nothing colder, a crypt for the passion that is my being. I hate it in there, to be buried in your own loathing. But not when he was here.”

                  “Why is that?” the voice cooed the boy into elaborating, hoping that he would dispel with the intimacy of his sorrow, a hurt that was enshrouded by a permanent darkness, an abyss that consumed his conscious will. The boy looked at the household behind him, a peculiar melancholy enclosing the corpse of his spirit, a moratorium.

                  “He was the only person I felt I never had to work for love, for acceptance. It seemed as if everything I did made him happy, just being alive itself. I was number one, always, and whenever I told him otherwise, he corrected me. I loved him. I seldom saw him, but I loved him.” As he spoke, the words shattered in a spasm of emotion, the tears and his words were coughed rather than said, coughed with the sickness of his love, so devout and so genuine that it would be the envy of the pontiff. But he strove to continue the eulogy, he felt that his subject deserved nothing more, and the boy himself deserved to know why he deserved it. “Not the case for anyone else. No matter what I do, I think it impossible to truly feel cared for. I feel lied to, I feel dubious, I feel rejected at every conversation, whether it’s true or not, but I do. But when I’m with him, everything is so sincere, so loving, so alive. He loved life.”

                  “Well, surely he wasn’t that great. A man weakened after a long battered life, one of vice. Do you only have nice words to mince? Are you naïve?” The voice had tenderness to it; the words ought have been stinging blades sinking into the boy’s flesh, singeing him with unbearable force and the rain ought have made it hiss, hiss like the hateful snake of smoke that arose to obscure his mind more. But it didn’t. There was such clarity, such understanding to what was implied. The voice demanded not a roast, a comeuppance of the subject’s vices and faults, but a true appreciation. A reflection of only good betrays the hardships, the obstacles, the human essence of people, it denies them their being, and the voice understood this, as did the boy as he spoke.

                  “No, I’m not naïve. Whatever had troubled him before, he had suffered for well enough. I am not here to bring to light old allegations. The problem is we too often describe the essence of a person based on selective actions, ones that do most hurt to us, but we too often forget everything else they did for us, their sacrifices, their love. When it comes to the end, you accept their faults. I’ve heard many stories about him, but the ones I remember the most, are the ones that I shared with him, the moments where he was the paragon of kindness, of egregious lovability. Where he was infallible. Who I am is shaped mostly by his influence on not only me but on my mother, you know. I thought the world of him. I thought nothing could stop him, his recovery no less.”

                  “You knew what was going to happen. He was old, and strokes seldom end with recovery.”

                  The boy, his sobs subdued by the retrospection of the conversation but keeping the somber intact though in his responses as occasional leaks reddened his eyes and blurred his vision, yet weren’t visible because of the downpour, responded. His response was thoughtful, but fragile all at once, as if the slightest slip of a sensitive word could’ve sent him into another breakdown. “When he first got the stroke, I was miserable. But, there was something that told me he would survive, some deceptive perception that he was in good health, but he was. He was in good health for someone his age. Strong. I surrounded myself with this research; I told myself that it was the successive strokes that killed people not the first. It wasn’t until I finally saw him that I felt the blunt trauma of realization, the hinting that he might actually die. Then he spoke, we heard him speak, after so much keeping up with, and were in celebration almost, oblivious to the winter of our discontent coming over the horizon of autumn’s tragic decay, we couldn’t care less about the future, because we thought we had it figured out, that we beat nature. I thought he was going to be fine. He was infallible! Dammit! Infallible!”

                  Sorrow became rage, as depression becomes an insanity of sorts, as desperation becomes uproar, as unrest became violence. The boy, as his volatility would suggest that title, arose. The rain crashed now, piercing his skin with a malicious mockery, and the obscurity enclosed him into his own world, devoid of everyone but himself and this voice, the source of which he could neither identify nor find. A cacophony molested him, of memories and of silence, a cruel dirge of departure. And that was all that was heard as the boy moved further into the front yard, the grass bent over in a stricken grief and the bushes were dark, without stir and without vivacity.

                  Finally, “ Have you seen the body yet?”

                  “No. I don’t think I want to.”

                  “Why?”

                  The boy turned, facing the house again, no longer to depict it from the murkiness of the storm of his melancholy, a sort of stricken fear befalling him. The nervous breathing of his body ceased and he declared, painfully, “When I heard the news, when I heard the thunder boom, there was a shattering of sorts. I do believe it was of illusion, something we try to believe that couldn’t happen to us because we didn’t deserve it to happen, but ultimately the world doesn’t care. I went to my room and I cried, hunched over my fallen knees, clasping my hands upon my face and just concealing my pathetic face from the world, for I just couldn’t face it. I cried so much, I cried with a pain shooting through my body that not even my own cold loneliness could force upon me. Then I just don’t know what happened, I stopped. The shock was done, but only because I do not understand what it is this means. When I see him, lying there in that coffin, I will come to terms with it, and that sadness, that poisonous blade that leaves an open wound that you cannot tend to, will come upon me. But I have to come to terms with it. It’s funny, how is it people who are dead inflict the most pain upon us? I’ll always remember, though, when that thunder devastated my fabricated contentment.”

                  There was another silence, save the pattering of rain, mimicking the angelic descent of a waterfall, serene and lessening. The boy was cold, unbearably so, and yet there was no one there anymore, as there often wasn’t, and he shivered, hoping someone would blanket him with human warmth, to radiate concern, but more effeminate, although the reason eluded him. Eventually, he called out into the still somber, his voice choked by the frozen clutches of his own loathing, his own misery that regained its hold, and received no response. He expected as much, a tear slipping from his eye, and he spoke, “Want to know what the worst part was?”

                  “….what?”

                  “When I saw him, laying there in the nursing home, unable to move and unable to speak, looking horrid, the life already leaving him, everything scared me. As he rattled incessantly at my mother’s arm, trying to speak to her, but unable to, and he’d sit there, disappointed with a scornful languor, and she would be on the brink of crying, unable to help her own father, I was scared. The old man beside us, gnarled and withered away by the winds of time, was but a vision into what was to occur, the wretched face of Death staring us with this shriveled, tortured look. The other man and his wife of seventy years beside him, there every moment of every day, as she helped clean him after he vomited on himself, also unable to move. I was scared. Because, as I soon came to terms with, I noticed something horribly distressing about him, my grandfather, lifeless on that table save only his humorous facial expressions.”

                  “What?”

                  “He couldn’t use the bathroom anymore without help, he couldn’t change without help, he couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t go on living. I look into his eyes, I see the tender love that he has for me and his smile as his face brightens and I call him ‘abuelotitito’ ,but I think now, when I look back to that time. I think about what kind of life that was for someone who always was so full of life, so full of affection, warmth. And I realize. He wanted to die.” Oh, how the boy cried with a sudden bout of snot and tears and he collapsed, writhing in sadness. His longing wails filled the streets, filled the indifference of the world outside of his, filled the dismay of his empty mind, and he remained there, unable to move, just crying. “You’re not even there, are you? I’m talking to myself, aren’t I?”

The voice only replied, as though ignoring the question so as to prevent the boy from shedding any more tears and to realize how alone he truly was amidst this storm, “Come inside, you’ll catch something and die in this rain. It’ll go away, I swear.”

                  “I miss him. Who else, if not him, will make me feel as special as he did? Who will endow such conviction for the miracle of living, give it that potent spice?”

                  “I don’t know. Come on. You don’t want to be sick at the service.”

                  The boy arose, hunched over, and in a morbid mood. He took back to the house, reappearing in his vision, and he was endowed with its repressive melancholy, the life of such a place fleeting in the storm and revealed ever so clearly in the fusillade of lightning, a farewell to him, to this man who had endowed preciousness upon the boy. As he entered the doorway to reenter the toneless walls, dreary and spiteful, he looked back into the storm, onto the quiet patter of the rain, waning, and he stared. He stared for what seemed forever, glimpsing onto the tragedy that had befallen him, one that occurs to everyone, but he could not see that, for his eyes were reddened and blurred, and his mind, flooded with the memories he would forever cherish, painted the grey skies, and he smiled, sniffling. The true reason eulogies are never all encapsulating is because the lives their subjects led are of countless experiences, not selective actions, not their selective words, but the essence of who they were in their relationships, their ambitions, their fears, their passion, all played out before everyone in these stories. Hundreds of stories, good and bad, but the ones that painted the sky were the ones the boy the boy shared with him, and in everyone they were both smiling, forever poignant.

He didn’t exactly speak to anyone or some spirit in another plain, the idea seemed delusional to someone already hurt by delusion, but he simply said, for his own sake one can suppose, “Goodbye my Abuelotitito. I love you.”

Copyright 2014

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