When Death Becomes Your Generation, You Are “X”-rayed
I remember when my parents reacted at the passing of someone that I didn’t even know existed until I was staring at the obituary section of the newspaper or magazine.
It was always a notable like a politician or entertainer. They seemed older than my folks, but most likely they probably weren’t that far removed from their generation.
The passing of family friends and children was a hushed occurrence that demanded a heavy shroud of secrecy to protect impressionable minds like mine from wandering into the darkness of awareness and assumptions.
When my friend’s mother left so suddenly — I had to plant my ear to the bedroom door to gather the words “cancer” “treatment” “pancreatic” and “London.” They didn’t mean much at the time, as all I could surmise was the realization that cancer was a very bad thing that can leave kids motherless — even when traveling to London for treatment is an option.
My fascination with death began after my maternal grandfather died of a diabetic attack. Of course I didn’t know that was what killed him as I stared at his lifeless body — and examined the cotton balls peeking out of his nostrils.
As usual I had to be at the right place at the right time in order to decode “adult conversations” while pretending to be the ten-year-old child with no agenda.
Looking back, I wonder why my parents didn’t seize the painful departure of a man that I almost loved more than them — as the perfect opportunity to illustrate the basics of our complicated existence.
As I grew older, the subject of death spared me its potent accuracy for a time. When you’re young and carefree — you revert back to the stage when the idea of your imminent demise can’t be tolerated in a personal way.
You get over the shocking news almost immediately and the residue of your fate mimicking theirs is never transferred.
As a Gen Xer — I was brought up to work hard and expect the reward of such diligence to match the output. In the meantime — love was all around me.
It was in the air. The nineties shaped my view of what being a true artist can manifest. I would love to liken it to the spirituality of the sixties that circumcised any attempt of surrendering to the status quo.
There was rebelliousness in open spaces through the bonds of creation and I was too absorbed to even contemplate my utopia being hijacked by the erosion of time.
We are dying for the lust that was splurged on golden moments in the sun when prancing around with filters meant carrying the physical evidence — that dotes on why you’re here — and what could happen if you should leave with no warning.
My stage is different from yours. You’re probably a well-propped Millennial — armed with the forces of validation that comes with being an overnight sensation just by flattening your belly as you plot the Adsense of your strategically connected senses.
I’m dying a slow and obvious death.
Each time a bolt from the past flies into the charge that collects us — I lose steam and cry a little — while my glass fills up without assistance.
They are missing. Some are taken like a flash while others boldly go where none of us can conquer with body and soul.
I hate this new abode that settles so comfortably in the state of mind that took long enough to complete.
You are wondering what the heck I’m talking about and if so — I don’t envy you at all. If I could switch places with you — I would absolutely stick with the graying temples and the Twitter Moments that announce another defeat in the army that I’ve served all my life.
My generation is diminishing and as the names pile up — so does my need to stack up the blocks of nostalgia.
They must not fall or something will break — so I drown in the sounds and visuals that remind me of when I was youthfully courageous — and selfies were Kodak moments that captured what it really meant to be liked and shared with no clicks.
Our savior isn’t in heaven — and yes, I also figured that one out on my own when I was on my knees asking to be delivered from the tears that filled my glass.
I don’t want to live forever — and when I join my comrades — I hope they know how much we Xed the hell out of life!
For Chris Cornell