The Art of Healing Part VI: Lay to Rest

PUBLISHED February 24, 2022

And the darkness is deep with unknowing.
The darkness is full of mystery.
The future is dense with darkness.
Too often you’d wallow in the darkness,
Wading through reeds of haunted melancholy.

Do you ever notice how Happy Birthday sounds like a mourning song?
In its original conception it was meant to lilt at the upper advantages of your range, pirouetting across the scales in G Major.
Our self-consciousness has added a lower harmony; a comfortable register for those who can’t quite leave their seats.
And now it just sounds so damn depressing, drunkenly dragging its feet through the buttercream frosting and melted ice cubes.

Happy birthday to you. Womp.

I make an aggravating effort now to sing happy birthday in its highest key; to set the pitch before the flaming candles turn the corner,
So that everyone can buddy system with their proper octave.
But it’s no use. We are creatures of comfort.

You would laugh at this observation. You would sing high. You’d spin the whole thing out into a sketch and get the whole place harmonizing. I thought about that last night, on what would have been your 30th birthday.

Happy Birthday is a mourning song.
We dim the lights and shroud ourselves in darkness and light a flame to the years we’ve devoured. We close our eyes with the audacity to assume we’ll see another candle on the cake next year; in the expectation of another chance to have our wish fulfilled–but we all wish for the same things:

We wish for the safety of our loved ones, the eradication of our enemies, the fulfillment of our dreams.

You come to me in dreams.
The first a ravage chill that paralyzed me in fear. I had thought all ghosts were meant to be friendly and invited you into a circle of candles to say goodbye, but you weren’t ready to leave.

In another I was confused and elated by your presence: But I shoveled dirt onto your casket. To which you simply replied: “I am not in the box.”

You are not in the box.

You are now everywhere.
But weren’t you always?
Aren’t we always everywhere in the lives of our loved ones?
Don’t we occupy so much space?
We are beyond our corporal boundaries; we reach, we touch, we dare to mean something to someone. How awfully powerful is that?
And now a millennium of happy birthdays to be sung into the ether. A streaming chorus of notes marching from your piano keys into the end of time. You will outlive us all.

Where does that part of you go that was so loved when the lover crosses over? Does the love remain?

So strange to be surrounded by the future; to be in that younger self’s distant imaginings. She feels so near to now. She is always close at hand. Then, too, someone sits hauntingly ten years along the path, waiting for us to arrive. Will we arrive? Who will we be? Who will have been lost, spared, brought along? We stay looking for clues that it all really happened; that we were real back then, too.

You taught me:
Life is meant to be magic. If I’m sure of nothing else it’s that life is meant to be magic, that it can be.
That it’s always the ones you never suspect.
That love finds you like a stray cat, purring around your ankles skulking from some unseen and mysterious place.
That we are merely the accumulation of our most vulnerable moments.
That being seen is the most urgent of human needs.
That fear is the necessary ancestor of courage.
That our histories constantly rewrite themselves.
That through the mist of time passed we’ll never see anything for what it truly was.
That stories and songs are maybe our clearest glimpse of what is real, for art is ‘where the most complex human truths are told.’

Blow out the candle if you’re here; play our song; hide the book; send a breeze.

I had built a sense of truth rooted in one infallible fact: That I was to always be loved by you.

And so the love stays.

And the darkness is deep with unknowing.
The darkness is full of mystery.
The future is dense with darkness.
Too often you’d wallow in the darkness,
Wading through reeds of haunted melancholy.

But into the darkness is where the brave dare to go.

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