||[Feb. 5th, 2005|12:52 am]
For the last four years of his life, my grandfather refused to eat anything but desserts: thick vanilla frosting, marshmallow- based bars, pecan iced-cream stolen from the freezer and eaten with a soup spoon. Something about pork sandwiches and BLTs lost glamour; the solidness of it all was terrible; he wanted something that would melt. There is some sort of inherent goodness that comes along with the sugar, bringing back memories of lemonade stands and chasing the iced cream truck and the way mud seeped through your toes as you ran through your sprinkler in your backyard, dreaming to be sucking at red and purple popsicles. It allows you to remember who you are without the pain of world war two or marrying a woman you never loved. My grandfather dwelt in well- preserved jams and rhubarb pies. Soon, all he could recall was dessert.|
On the night he died, it was not a big change; he hadn't remembered me for years. In most ways, he was already dead, which led me to think, Is an afterlife--heaven--is it simply a compilation of memories? His smell of Lava soap and chapstick, the way he'd pronounce my name with a harsh "K" and "T," the way his icy blue eyes would smile at me, as he chewed on a toothpick and talked about pheasants. The little things that make us who we are, made us who we were; perhaps this is the way an afterlife works. In these short moments, we proved that our existence mattered, that our presence was somehow, at least to someone, meaningful.
But what if that's all this really is? What if we are dead, and simply re-living memories of things, moments that made us, happenings that broke us, tore us, lifted us, changed us. Are we only images in the minds of our beloved, faded pictures that still seem to move, tattered toys that emulate what we are so used to doing? If my afterlife was simply a small stored moment in time, lived through eyes that were no longer my own, I would allow myself only dessert. I would start with caramels. Their sugar would build up, exploding as it combusted, surging through my fingers, my bloodstream, my face. I would smile, Sit still, never be ready for sleep.