Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our Gem, our treasure

I never asked why your parents chose this name for you. It seemed obvious the moment we met. You were a treasure! I remember your eyes, especially: sparkly and kind with a bit of your inner mischief reflected as you somewhat shyly looked away.

There are many people who know all the years I do not and will recall them today. I hope someday to hear them all, to better inform my vision of you.

I have deep impressions. The blessing and curse of a creative mind is to actively translate a kind of 3D image of everything, or at least it is so for me: I hear what you don't say, see what secrets you believe you are hiding, know more about you from your physical gestures than from experiencing the persona you present. I build you up from the inside, a sort of armature of visions and sensations, conversations and actions that are your true bone and sinew over which a thickening skin layers throughout your life.

You were the oldest and so I saw you the least, busy with your own things. On more than one occasion I overheard others mentioning you. Usually girls, usually giggling, usually crushing hard. You were a handsome boy, funny, irresistible to them. I know I thought so too, and smiled to myself in secret collusion.

But I also knew there was so much more. Your mother knows I think she is the Goddess of Everything and how the four of you have grown into such brilliant and individual forces is the polish on her pedestal. When you achieved acceptance here at Cal I was over the moon. I tend to see this as her accomplishment, but of course it was yours. I apologize for that slight.

And this is where my armature of you was completed. It's said there is a fine line between genius and madness and my own psyche bears this out. It's bred in the bone, woven around our wiring... it doesn't take much to send an elevated mind up and over the brink. But there are no "could haves" or "should haves" with you. Even if we were right there watching, your demons hatched so quickly they were already beyond our control the moment they bore out. We could wish it weren't so but know better: to do so is to imagine we had choices -- that you had choices, and made poor ones. It's just not so.

Seeing you after your surreal journey that ended in the South Bay was a devastating revelation. The young man who shortly before had helped us carry furniture in our new home could now no longer lift his eyes. I knew this was no longer you, the Gem that was such a treasure to us all. How inconsolably lost to us you were already became clear to me when I watched my father slip from my grasp; I understood in a way which I might not have otherwise. I remember thinking about my father: If only he had one lingering lucid moment to see himself as he now is he'd beg us to the pull the plug. He didn't. He couldn't.

But you did.

We the Living, the Left Behind, must see this as the blessing you did in those last days, hours, moments. We must see how hard you struggled against a Force greater than yourself for so long and be filled with pride and awe. We must exalt your intelligence and the depth of your wisdom, traits we have always loved and admired in you, of which you made perhaps the greatest use to find the way Out, the only escape from the cruelty of what your illness had rendered.

We already have mourned the loss of the child, the boy, the young man. Our Gem, our treasure. I thank you for him, and while I honor your struggle I will likewise honor your last courageous act: to will yourself beyond it, to free yourself and therefore all who love you from the stranglehold of that alien force that robbed us all.

As you are free now, too, we are free. To dwell on these past years would be to dishonor your Great Deed, your sacrifice. Instead, to authentically honor you is to bury that burdensome menace; to restore your memory to the place we saw you last, the handsome boy with those beautiful eyes who was always a little shy in his boldness. Helpful and charming, brilliant and more often than not, happy.

This I pledge to do.