A neighbor found her body many years after she had gone missing. He was walking in a wooded area near his house, and stumbled over a bone - a skull - I am not sure what part of what was left of her, exactly. Like any sane person, he called the police.
That’s really it. Bodies die. They are a reminder of the miracle of life and that life will cease. If we stop and notice each other as human beings, to see others’ vulnerabilities and recognize our own -- we will most likely develop compassion, even for those who persecute us or make us angry or cause us pain.
For we are all so very vulnerable. And this is hard and scary work, and easy to turn aside from. But may we be given courage to see – to really see - the image of God in everyone we interact with, and may we be reminded that God knows us in our bodily form, and may we make choices to act with love, kindness, compassion, mercy.
I am taking an antidepressant. I am chemically altered right now. I think about the serotonin messages flooding into my brain, visualize the lift, the easing of pain. I console myself with the light dose. I won’t need it forever; it will not become part of who I am. But I fear it.
I fear it might become inextricably part of me.
I fear that whatever ability I have to write will be compromised.
I fear my memories will be diluted, my pain will mean less.
If my reality is shaped by my perception, what does it mean to mess with my brain chemistry, even a little? What makes me, me?
The end of a semester is usually something of a relief - an end, a brief pause to gather the breath, and then a new beginning charged with possibility. But this time it is different. I have insisted to myself and to other people that I am ready for it to be over, to be finished, to be done with 2014 all the way around. But the end, this time, is also marked with sorrow.
I had an exceptional class, yes, so that is part of it. The students in it and the content cannot be recreated. During the darkest days of mourning, when I could barely stand to be in my own skin, I found an unexpected oasis of somewhat forgetting when I was talking with my students about how doing the craft of history kept transforming, how studying the past could clarify a life, and what it all might mean. These students were patient with me, and came to me with sharp minds, penetrating questions, and their own losses and struggles.
And now, in the same building where I taught, my friend’s office stands emptied of whatever vestiges may have been floating amongst his books and his belongings. The space stands still and silent, waiting to be filled with something new. And it has to be so; it was time. But it is the end of an era. And endings can be so very bitter, without much sweet.