Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Succumbed?

When Mom died, I felt like I was the only one saying the words "died" or "dead." The words felt harsh coming out of my mouth because everyone was avoiding them. It's sort of how I felt when I moved to Tennessee from New York and had to stop saying "fuck" because people would react like I'd shot them in the face with a squirt gun.

I've gotten used to people saying "passed away," but I don't really like it. It reminds me of how people supposedly often fart upon dying, which Mom did not do -- her lower bowel was not connected so no gas had passed through it for 2 years. The woman died. Can we just say she died? Euphemisms rob the event of its seriousness, its profundity, its finality.

When Mom was sick, I hated all the military metaphors people slip into when someone has cancer. As I saw it, she wasn't battling cancer, she was treating a disease so she could live longer and better. The point was to live longer in order to enjoy her life, not to be locked in battle with a deadly foe. But after she died, the metaphor made perfect sense to me. She had fought like a dog for her life, no doubt about it. She had an ugly, painful disease and she beat it back valiantly for years. Years in which her appreciation for her life deepened and in which our appreciation for her and each other deepened. It was a battle well fought. And I feel like she won it.

This article is not as interesting as it could be, because it only considers obituary language, which is determined by factors like whether or not people pay for their obits so they can submit something written by the family, or whether only a "death announcement" is allowed. Also, newspapers have style guides that I would think maybe limit the expressions allowed. It's not everyday language. I mean, "entered eternal rest"?

It makes me smile to remember Mom so often, sitting at the kitchen table in the morning, reading the obituaries in their local Muncie paper and snickering at things like So-and-so was called home to Jesus, or So-and-so was carried on the wings of angels up to her Lord and Savior."

I inherited my mom's love of laughing at the hicks and though I don't necessarily love it in myself I embrace it as a sometimes necessary survival tactic, especially in rural Indiana, the land of compulsory Jesus-is-my-best-friend Christianity.

1 comment:

Erik Atlas said...

You ever notice at the top of the blogger page is the "next blog' button? That's how I found you.

I am sitting here crying as i read this. i am sorry for you pain, but thrilled you have humor and mirth about it. I would love to say I know how you feel - i don't. but i'm sure if i did, it would be about what stupid nerf-padded word we're going to use when we're fucked.

I found myself raging at this word-padding in the christianist world - they insist all language me nice and nothing be shocking - as if Jesus promised them a world with round soft edges. Trigger warning - it hurts here.

In a small yet important way i love you. Thanks for sharing. i can sleep now.