Posts tagged ‘Family’

A Message from Aunt Kathy

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Dear Alex,

Where are you? What are you doing? Can you still hear our thoughts?

I know our time on earth must be a small blip compared to eternity, but it is still hard for us to comprehend.

Every time we hear certain songs, we believe you hear them also and we treasure those brief reminders.

We love you so much. We miss you so much. We are still having a hard time understanding.

September 8, 2009 at 7:32 am 1 comment

Happy Birthday, Little Brother

Alex's Tree 2     May 11, 2009May 11, 1986 was the most significant Mother’s Day our parents will ever celebrate. I don’t remember you coming home from the hospital, but I do recall sneaking up to see you in your crib. We fought like wild animals until I went off to college, but unconditional forgiveness followed each of our clashes.

In my absence, we started to grow closer, and I wish we had more time to continue on that meaningful trajectory. Our visit to New York was a blast as you bargained in Chinatown and navigated the subway. People started to ask if we were fraternal twins. I took this as a compliment because everyone I know thinks you’re incredibly handsome. We laugh and sometimes even talk the same. The high-pitched hoot distinguished us in theaters, hallways, and classrooms. I’ve hardly laughed like that, though, since you left. I wish I could, if only just to hear your voice.

Yesterday, I saw the live oak tree planted in your memory. Dad can see it from his office, and there’s plenty of space for its roots and branches to flourish. It will outlive me and my children and my grandchildren, and I like the thought of that. I wish you could have lived to see old age. Maybe I will be fortunate enough to do so.

Your birthday always coincided with my return from college for the summer. When I visited home this weekend, I almost expected you to drive up in your red Civic and talk smack with me. Pluto’s not fat anymore, and we have a brand new toilet upstairs. That’s about all that’s changed since January. Seems strange. It still baffles me that time has the audacity to progress as usual in your absence.

There’s a hole in my heart, but I can’t seem to bleed to death. I feel at once devastated and honored to live the rest of my life in your memory. The dichotomies that often govern our existence are overwhelming. Perhaps, over time, you can help me reconcile the contradictions, loose ends, shades of gray, and injustices within this life.

It’s so difficult to articulate my love for you, and I never had the chance to tell you just how proud I was. Am. I guess that’s because all of those feelings of compassion, fondness, and respect we shared went without saying. I know you knew how much I cared. And for that, above all things, I am endlessly grateful.

Happy Birthday, Alex. The intense sorrow following your death can never compare to the endless joy your life created. Today marks your twenty-third year. And in death, as in life, your gifts continue to arrive.

May 11, 2009 at 7:25 pm 9 comments

How to Sing “Happy Birthday” in Spanish

The Spanish version of “Happy Birthday” is more poetic than what we usually sing in English. Have you ever stopped to think that the “Happy Birthday” song only contains six different words, including a proper noun? It’s about as simplistic as they come, so here’s a new jingle to learn and practice on your celebrating friends and loved ones:

De las velas las luces

Ellas quieren decir

Que tú  tengas, Carlito,

Cumpleaños feliz

The great thing is that, while the lyrics are in another language, the music stays the same. Loosely translated, the “Feliz Cumpleaños” song says:

The lights from the candles

Would like to wish you, Charlie,

A happy birthday!

I know: It’s much more poetic in Spanish, as it lends itself more readily to the traditional tune.

Now all I need is someone to teach me the song in Arabic!

 

April 23, 2009 at 9:10 pm 1 comment

Self-Psychoanalysis

laurenalex

Me: I mean, just because I’ve been “okay” for a week or so, I don’t want you to get to thinkin’ I’m fine or anything like that.

Former psychiatrist: Don’t worry, Lauren: I would never think that about you.

————————————————-

Lately, I’ve been following guys around who resemble Alex from certain angles or who share his name. I stop staring and/or following only until I am 100% certain the person I am seeing is not my brother. With this in mind, I had a dream the other night about shopping alone at the Book Stop by the Olive Garden in Humble (now Barnes and Noble and within Deerbrook Mall). One of the book store employees had “Alex’ written in green lablemaker across his name badge. After keeping an eye on him for a bit, I lost interest because he looked and acted like a bit of a schmuck – sufficient evidence that he was not my Alex reincarnated.

I continued through the shelves of text, half-heartedly looking for a few items to add to my John Updike or African American literature collections. I passed the children’s section and noticed a display with Where the Wild Things Are and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and a few other books Alex and I read as kids. Suddenly, a spell of nausea ran over me, and I steadied myself against a row of travel guides. The room began to spin as I screamed out, “Someone help me!” before falling onto the floor and curling up into a ball of panic. No one came to my assistance. And then I woke up.

The problem is that, even while awake, I feel alone and helpless in this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad situation. No one comes to my assistance. No one can. The most I can hope for is the ability to move forward, if even an inch at a time.

Throughout troubled times, I sporadically become childish in my use of body and spoken language. In the dream, I symbolically curled up into the fetal position. I think the desire to return to one’s childhood or infancy reflects a need to be taken care of beyond what is available or even possible. Of course, if I could somehow return to my childhood, Alex wouldn’t be gone anymore, thus further fueling my sense of desperation.

Maybe someday I will grow up and effectively function as a responsible, productive adult. Until then, I prefer to live in a world of crossword puzzles, films, and literature where I stay distracted from the “unbearable lightness of being.”

February 2, 2009 at 10:30 pm 6 comments

Motherhood

I don’t want to have a baby
Right now or when I’m forty
Just so I can tell myself
That I’m no longer lonely

I don’t want to change its diapers
Or clip coupons from the mail
To buy mushed food and formula
I’d just as soon bail

I don’t want to quit my day job
Or wear maternity clothes
The thought of all that crying
Sends me into fits of woes

I don’t want to lose my interest
In afternoons of fucking
When one orgasm once a week
Chalks me up to lucky

I don’t want the picket fence posts
Ever after, happily
I don’t want to have a baby
(I don’t want a little me.)

January 5, 2009 at 7:03 am 1 comment

The Celestial Trampoline

alexnoto1

from an email by Peter Nagy

A time like this makes the most atheist of us wish for an afterlife in which the contaminants that fowled life one are banished. Who knows, the Christian version of it may just be the correct one, although it should contain something more inspirational than the prospects of floating around on a cloud all day and telling God how great and wonderful He is. The recent introduction of string theory makes it possible for small waves of energy to form around a person and to form a replica of his memories and personality. These would remain bonded together indefinitely unless some unexpected force dismantled them. Thus, The Brother may be up there now, leaping off a galaxy-sized trampoline.

Having known The Brother I felt devastated by his untimely passing. I cried on the way to the service, and barely got myself under control as I parked the car. Perhaps we may yet see him again in accordance with the observations above. Alex was too adventuresome to be limited by physical realities. He needed the protective mantle of immortality to pursue his curiosity without harsh consequences. Rest in peace, The Brother. We miss you sorely.

December 18, 2008 at 5:29 am Leave a comment

In Memory of Alex Davis: May 11, 1986 – December 9, 2008

My mother’s friend recently described Alex as a troubled genius. The tragedy behind his sincere compassion and overwhelming intellect was that it existed in direct proportion to a thorough comprehension of all the sadness in the world well beyond his years. Along with his depth and an incredible capacity for kindness and empathy, Alex carried with him a heavy heart. The one relief death brought was the unloading of this incredible burden from his mind and soul.

Carson McCullers, another brilliant yet disturbed soul, wrote The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter in her early twenties. In one of the novel’s pivotal passages, Reverend Blount reflects:

There are those who know and those who don’t know. And for every ten thousand who don’t know there’s only one who knows. That’s the miracle of all time – the fact that these millions know so much but don’t know this. It’s like in the fifteenth century when everybody believed the world was flat and only Columbus and a few other fellows knew the truth. But it’s different in that it took talent to figure that the earth is round. While this truth is so obvious it’s a miracle of all history that people don’t know.”

“Know what?” We might ask. Alex “knew,” and the burden of truth exists in the answer therein.

Alex always wanted to start a family of his own. In fact, my parents thought he would give them grandkids before I ever did. For two summers, Alex worked as an aide for Humble ISD’s Extended Year Special Education Program. After spending a delightful Fourth of July with the students, Alex recounted the experience to his grandmother, Tita: “We had a blast as we celebrated the holiday with a parade!” “A parade?” Tita asked, “How did you have a parade on a school day?” “Well, we marched through the hallways of the school, banging on classroom objects as if they were musical instruments. The pure and simple joy these kids showed on their faces, Tita, it was incredible.” From that point forward, Alex considered a career in special education.

Alex sometimes displayed intellectual and emotional depth in mysterious ways. In high school, Alex had to research the artwork of a famous person who wasn’t known for being an artist. He came home that day and showed me various online images of Hitler’s paintings. “Did you have any idea that Hitler could paint?” he asked me. “No,” I replied, “but that doesn’t change the fact that he was responsible for the Holocaust.” “I know that,” he retorted, “but just imagine what might have been if he had applied his creative energy toward art instead of hatred.” Alex then threw himself completely into the project and produced a brilliant paper on Hitler’s hidden talent. He always reflected upon alternative possibilities instead of tragic realities.

We are on the brink of a revolution, and, at first, I felt immensely regretful that Alex would not get to experience the events in their entirety. But now I think about the huge role he has already played: by voting this November, by graduating at the top of his class from the University of North Texas with a sociology degree, by adamantly expressing his desire for world peace and a more equitable distribution of wealth, by touching so many people with such a limited time frame. Alex loudly and unequivocally demanded so much from those he loved. And it puts me at peace to say that somehow, someway, we gave it to him.

alexchill1

Alex’s online memorial

December 16, 2008 at 5:22 am 6 comments

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