It has come as it always would, and I think I should apologize for letting it happen this way. It wasn’t my intention. When I began this Essay-a-week, I didn’t think of the ending. If not evident in my writing, I didn’t think about very much. I just wrote one word followed by another followed by yet one more until I found myself with something very much like this – a little bit rational, a little irrational all the same – and I sifted through the snafu with the precision of an airplane trying land on a penny.
More often than not, what came out of the filtered mess was another filtered mess. Reading back, I find that I rambled, I condescended, I was pretentious, I was ignorant, I failed to understand my original intentions or if I did, I lacked the acumen to bring the veracity of life that my thoughts required. I find a façade of truth and lies masquerading around as honesty. I find the snippets of a person I can barely recognize, the shards of glass of a mirror I have difficulty gazing into nowadays, and I wonder what that person, whoever he was and whatever he wrote, would say to me now.
Part of me thinks it wouldn’t be too much. He’d harrumph and tell me that I looked too happy. I’d say that he looked too sad and he’d say that he’d expect that from a guy so happy and I’d say that I’d expect that from a guy so sad and we’d stare at each other for a while, sizing each other up. He’d wear sweatpants and so would I. His hair would be long and mine would wave in the air equally. He’d smile when I would. He would laugh when I would. And he’d be me and I’d be him and we’d look at each other and somehow still not see it.
Because although he’d appear like me physically, after all these months and after all the words I have written, I would see the ending of him and the beginning of me. At the end of all these essays, I see Kacper from Kacper, and not much more.
You see – what I’m trying to say is that I look back onto everything I have done in these seven months since I began this challenge, I think I died somewhere in between.
I do not mean this in any metaphorical sense but in the actuality that I am there printed in words I myself have composed. I exist in them, through them, and because of them. I exist because this is me and so is this and so is this, and even though you feel like it might all be same, I’d tell you its different. Each piece of me is fading away bit by bit, changed by the fact that I am no longer the same person I was when I wrote this or that, or when I decided to choose one adjective over another, to scratch the use of adverbs in my sentence clauses altogether, or when I chose the active rather than the passive voice.
This fleeting life, and the words I have to chosen to describe it with or those same words that help me move away from it, is what I have to show for myself. It isn’t much, but it is enough for it is all I can offer. What it is, and what I think I have been aimlessly getting at for so long, is the truth: I died because I lived, and here I am, after it all, with a mind for a vacuum sucking out the flesh of myself from the leather chair I sit on to this very page itself.
This last post for the third Essay-a-week I have participated in is supposed to be a eulogy, but it goes without saying that I have already left one behind. It is here. It is here. And it is here also.
If by the time that this post is read I am already dead, then that will be even truer. And if this is the case, and you are breathing, feeling, and living and I’m dressed up waiting for you to join me, I want to thank you. Though I have died here in these tombstones carried around in electronic black, I am alive in the echoes of your voice, even if only said in your mind, and I want to just tell you, if a dead guy can offer any compliment worth keeping, that you sound beautiful.
There was a time, I think, that I used to sound just as nice; it was my first post on May 19th about an elevator. Go back to it, and know that that is where I still am, hoping to get off at the right level. The same problems torment me as they did when I wrote the damned thing. Years ago, I found myself there by own accord and I didn’t know where I wanted to go and what floor was the right one and there were so many buttons and didn’t I want to hit them all and what if someone came in and what if I had to make conversation and what if the elevator broke and what if it didn’t and I reach the end of my destination and there I am at the end, wherever that is, and I don’t want to get off. What then?
I don’t know, part of me thinks I never will know, but I’ll be happy if you come for the ride, however long or however short you’ll stay. Personally, I think that’s what this Essay-a-week is all about – to start on an empty page and fill it with meaning enough to make a friend. And know that I tried to do so even if the first few words were terrifying and crummy and worth even less than the white page I wrote on.
Until we meet, friend, I have my last post. A eulogy. The end. It was the only thing I could have truly promised from the beginning of all this and all I could ever leave to you, dear reader, after it all.
For both our sakes, I just hope it’s enough for it is all I have left.
The obituary would read like a shopping list. Did this and that. Check. Loved his family. Check. Had his demons. Check. Something something about God taking people too young. Check. Above, a grainy picture would smile at whoever was unfortunate enough to stumble upon the name, though they wouldn’t even give it a second glance. Comics and crossroads would be waiting in the back.
A few people would file in to the funeral. Immediate family and friends came. That was all he had. All he was. Immediate. And by tomorrow, he’d be forgotten by some.
There were others who straggled along, wondering if this was the right place. Someone made a joke he had heard a million times about being a ghost and how it was true now. No one laughed, though in the picture above the coffin was Kacper and he was grinning from ear to ear.
With the orchestra of coughs, creaks, and cries playing in a small cramped church, the beginning of the end and the end of a beginning would be given a voice. A priest who Kacper had never met would instruct his beloveds about how death was hard, but life was harder still because here we all were – still living, still breathing, still remembering – after everything. He’d have a strong, unmistakable accent and much of his English would be drunk with Polish. ”We must be silny for Kacper because that’s co on chiał.” Confused faces would nod back to him, and he’d take their perplexity for morose but hardened agreement. He’d clap his hands with excitement because the funeral was really alive this time all because of his divine message and he’d continue on and on, drowning the few mourners in a sticky-mess of barely-bilingual word vomit.
Exhausted from the three-hour marathon of proselytizing, the priest would sit down and he’d motion like with the slowness of jello to those with crimpled papers in their hands. One by one, they’d stand and with voices that lacked a throat from which they could escape, death would be given a name.
When we came to Canada years ago, it was snowing. Here we were, two young lovers with barely any English between the two of us, but we knew this, we knew snow. Under it, everything looked the same. For all we knew, it could’ve been Poland again. The plane could’ve been circling for hours only to arrive right where we started. But it wasn’t because the snow melted and spring came and we built a family on top of it all. Kacper was our second child. He squirmed when he came out, forcing his brother to tag along with him though neither of them was ready to be born. From the beginning, he was persistent and he would stay that way. No matter what it was, he would tell whoever was listening that he was in control, even if he wasn’t. Once he was riding on a scooter and he was going far too fast. Waldi and I told him to slow down but as he zipped around the corner, all we could hear was, “I’m control, I’m in control.” A moment later, we heard a cry and found him pinned under a car that was backing up. It’s funny. These little moments come back to me now and I wish I could spend all this time telling you about how his hair felt like wheat fields in the summer, how he smiled with these little, hidden dimples surfacing if he tilted his chin up just a little bit, how I got mad at him once for his brother’s prank, but I can’t. I can only tell you that I wish he were here and how I don’t want to end this because then it feels like I’m ending a conversation with him and how much I loved him, still do. I can only hope that no parent experiences this. No parent should bury their children. But if they do, they need to make sure that before they experience hell, they spend every last second with their child, loving them, pampering them, getting to know them, understanding their likes and dislikes, what shows they watched, what books they read, what made them scared, what they wanted to be when they were older, and that they came to know the whole universe of lives their child wanted to live before they died. I cannot do this anymore. I’m sorry for it. I’m sorry for failing my son in that way. I’m sorry for it, I’m sorry for not being able to change it, and I’m sorry for doing nothing but crying. I can’t help my tears from falling, though.
We’ve had a hard life. Nothing has been easy. From immigration to death to academic hardships, everything seemed to challenge us. As soon as we moved two steps forward, we moved three back. As a father, I always wanted to try to fix this bad luck. I wanted to be a better father than my father. I tried in everything. I tried for everything. I tried because of everything. And it was never enough. But Kacper always told me that he loved me and I loved hearing him say it. No matter how tired or sad or angry I was, it calmed me down. He was the voice of reason to my problems and whenever I was worried, he joked with me. I think I taught him that, but he lived the lesson so much more than myself. One day we were riding and I told him that we should probably work out. I wasn’t feeling old or anything quite yet; just I needed energy. He saw my hesitance and how I was afraid to use the wrong words, and he said, “The bakery called, they want their rolls back.” I don’t think I laughed as much as I did then. He knew what I needed to hear and that same night, we did my six-minute workout routine. He was so… perceptive. Always was. I… I wish I was still a better father to him. Maybe then, none of this would’ve happened. If only we had money. Or success. Or both. Maybe… maybe… I’m sorry, Kacper. I’m sorry for everything but most of all, for not being able to give you exactly that.
I’m not going to stand here and tell you how great my brother was or how his failings made him good or anything like that. If you knew Kacper, you’d know he was a little shit and when he wasn’t, he was a big shit. I’ll instead tell you that he didn’t want any of this. Of course he didn’t want to die but I mean that he wouldn’t have wanted a funeral if the inevitable came kicking him in the gut before he could defend himself. If he could’ve had his way, he wouldn’t have wanted a priest, wouldn’t have wanted tears, wouldn’t want anything so morose and saddening. In their place he’d want laughter and smiles, hands clapping and knowing nods, even a few snorts would have been better than this. What I’m trying to say is that he’d have wanted a roast. You know? An event where a host is insulted by his friends through heavy-handed humour. Though Kacper isn’t hosting this anymore than the church is, he’d appreciate it. So in the spirit of Kacper, here I go: Kacper was born first, sure, but that’s because he was premature in everything else. Just ask his girlfriends. Speaking of his girlfriends, did you know he had like five of them? True story – they all dumped him. Guess he wasn’t first in everything, then. People remember him happy, but he had to be. With a name like a ghost, if he were anything else but smiling, people would see right through him. I’ll admit, though, that his smile was like looking at porn files download on a 56K modem. It was forced for the most part. In fact, it was so bad that it made his jokes seem godly. A lot of others will think of his penmanship, or lack thereof, as his defining feature. I’d agree, if I could read whatever the hell he wrote that is. Trying to decipher his sentences was like chewing glass and staring into the abyss. Once, Kacper failed a biology test because the teacher couldn’t read what he scrawled. Kacper came back to say how it wasn’t fair and this and that, and he read his answer out loud and found out that he failed twice: once for the unscrupulous writing, the second time for the content. But Kacper wasn’t all bad. There was this one time… wait, no… that wasn’t him. He did laugh a lot though. I’m sure he’s laughing now at some of these jokes because I’m sure that in someway, he wrote them by living the life he did. And I’ll miss him for it. God I will.
I didn’t really know Kacper, I met him once at a club. We made out a bit. He was an okay kisser. Not the greatest, but he wasn’t too bad either. A bit too much tongue and he didn’t shave, so his top lip pricked me a bit. I had a rash the next morning. Not that kind of rash, mind you. Just a little red mark above my upper lip. Kind of like a bad wax job, you know? My friends were warning me the entire night, though I didn’t mind. He didn’t dance up behind me or try to whirl me around like a yoyo like other guys try to do. He came up to me and took my hand gently and asked if he could have this dance. I said something about it not being the medieval times, and he said in a room like this, it still feels like we’re still in the dark ages. I didn’t know what he meant, but we danced, and he wasn’t too bad. Something about taking four years of ballet. I can’t remember. I was drunk. And besides, I don’t usually do these things. Well, okay. I go out. I have fun. I’ll admit all that. But I don’t drink and hook up with guys. Fine. I do sometimes, I guess. But who doesn’t? I’m young. It’s what I’m supposed to do… anyways. It’s what Kacper and I did once, and while I was doing it, and we took a breath from one another, he told me he wanted me to speak at his funeral, so here I am. He seemed lovely, besides the moustache hair.
For two years, I would call Kacper my best friend. He was kind, compassionate, and dealt with everything through a twist of optimism. I can’t believe he’s gone, and I’m not sure many people can. There is no happiness gained in trying to grapple with the why. I’m not going to say that there’s a reason for it, though there very well may be, but I want to say that Kacper enriched my life. He listened to me. He cared for me. And he let me cry when I needed to. Now it’s our turn to cry, and from Kacper to me, I’m here when you need it and I hope that you’re here for me too, now that he isn’t. Love you, Kacper.
I’m not sure if I should speak here but Kacper held the door for me once and it was a pretty nice thing to do considering. Thing was he held it from a distance, so I had to run to get to it and he looked at me intently to see if I’d say thank you and I did anyways but I mean, he could’ve just let the door close and I’d be okay with that too. At any rate, it was pretty nice as I said, though thinking about it now, it could’ve just as easily been Oskar. Guess we’ll never know.
This difficult. Very difficult. My English no good so sorry but Kacper was nice. Had my blood. My heart. He was good. So good. I don’t know why. Don’t know why this happen. Poland was hard. This harder. I … I… sorry. He in better place. Heaven. With everyone. He happy I think. I know. But why – I don’t know. He happy. He happy. He happy. Maybe that why. Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t know.
The priest would look at realize that the line had shuffled back to their seats and he’d stand, though his legs were already tired. He’d need to make this quick. Some people, he’d think, just talk for so long. At least he was getting paid, he’d remind himself. Nontaxable too. I should do more funerals, he made a note to himself.
Oh yeah – the rest. With a few mumbles, a couple groans, and a flurry of hand waving that would make a skydiver look still, the priest burped out an “Amen”. The crowd replied in unison.
And that was that.