November 13, 2011

The face of it

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For the first time in my recent memory, The New York Times has published a photo of a corpse of a person who died of natural causes. The paper frequently posts images of the dead taken by war or disaster. Here the body (photographed by Librado Romero), laid out in a coffin, is surprisingly intense, as is the story of the dead woman, Noemi Rivera and her husband Edwin Morales.

Memento Mori was common in Victorian era. The dead were posed and photographed. The treasured images were hung in the parlor. As our culture embraced modern medicine, we moved out of the home into the hospital to die. Our experience with death became removed from daily life, and we became less comfortable with impermanence. In fact, some find it vulgar. One New York Times reader posted the comment “This is a beautiful love story. The photograph is in very poor taste.”

How does it feel to you to look death in the face?

October 3, 2011

Searching

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Over coffee with a friend we stumbled over a mutual friend’s name. A name I had emailed just days before, a name of someone I know well, We moved on in the conversation, though it was driving me crazy. My fingers itched to do a quick search for him on my iPhone. I resisted, willing my brain to kick in. Still no name. And then it came to my friend – “James” she pronounced. Yes, James. We chuckled at our memory loss. Later that day the friend sent me a text “Funny about James.” And yes, for Read the rest of this entry »

September 21, 2011

Inevitable

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I am back to it. The blog, work, home and kids to school. The return greeted by an earthquake, a flood and 9/11.

Earlier this summer I watched the last Harry Potter film, Deathly Hallows-Part 2. The final scene is of the adult Harry, Hermione and Ron sending their children off to Hogwarts, a place of magic and terror.


At the time I wondered if I would do the same. Voldemort is dead, so is Osama bin Laden, but terror remains. Would I do it? Send my kids off into the threat of evil? I thought not. But I just did.

Last week, as my iPhone flared with terrorist threat alerts, I escorted my daughter to her chorus performance at Columbus Circle in New York City for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. She sang “Give Us Hope” surrounded by visible police and undercover security. The next morning, I packed off my husband and son for an away Little League game. They left two hours early in order to pass through the security checkpoint stations as they cross a bridge to Brooklyn. It feels insane to live this way.

Earlier this morning my Facebook wall presented photos of the 9/11 Memorial and the name of my dear friend’s sister engraved in the wall. Other photos were of the waterfall rushing into a drain in the ground. An intense reminder which doesn’t seem to “give us hope.”

Death is inevitable. I am aware of the threat, the potential for harm, but the fear is not present. Not sure where it lives. Somewhere inside of me? Somewhere outside of me? I know it’s there. And I know that there is little to do in this moment, but stand on the platform and pray for the magic.