In the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, protagonist Billy Pilgrim reports that the Tralfamadorians look like upright toilet plungers with a hand on top, into which is set a single green eye:Tralfamadorians have the ability to experience reality in four dimensions; meaning, roughly, that they have total access to past, present, and future; they are able to perceive any point in time at will. Able to see along the timeline of the universe, they know the exact time and place of its accidental annihilation as the result of a Tralfamadorian experiment, but are powerless to prevent it. Because they believe that when a being dies, it continues to live in other times and places, their response to death is, "So it goes."
In th' so-called "liturgical churches" (those that celebrate 'high mass': Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran), today is known as All Souls Day. Coming out of ancient proto-Christian traditions, it is a time to honour those who have crossed o'er and are no longer with us, especially to remember those who have left us since this time last year.
Th' older we get th' more Loss we all feel and experience, and while time may heal all wounds, th' scars of those wounds remain. Like corporeal scars, like war wounds, they may ache from time to time, or they may be stiff, hindering and restricting our freedom of movement. In th' fullness of time, we learn to live with these scars, often to th' point that we may not even be aware of their presence for long periods of time. But there comes times when we become peculiarly aware of their presence, and while th' wound itself may not reopen, it will ache, and we can all-too acutely remember how we got it.
Today is Doc Shaw's birthday; he's been gone now for four years... well, 4.33 years, if you wanna be picky, having left us in June, but th' idea is still th' same: how can so much time go by so quickly? How can we keep going on in th' face of all these losses?
We're not Trelfamadorians, of course, and perhaps that's for th' best. We live in 3 dimensions but thanks to our memory (and all those wonderful bits of various technology we can use to enhance and extend it, like video and photography and recordings), we can replay those times in our minds and, if we're lucky, on our VCR's or laptops and, for that short period of time, they are with us again.
There is, of course, more to be said on this subject, MUCH more. There are unspoken memories to share, dull moments in time that, when they happened, were so mundane as to be almost invisible, but nonetheless now come swimming back to th' surface of consciousness-- a slow moment around a autumnal campfire, for example, where no one spoke and no one needed to. A time when I needed a ride to work in th' dead of winter and Doc came over to pick me up, blue spotted metal camping mug full of black coffee. I can hear myself say thanks, and him respond with a warm "no problem," and then a deep sniff to draw back whatever was dripping down th' inside of his head from a cold he was fighting. Doc was a storyteller, a weaver of tales and nonesuch, and a raconteur, and what comes floating in from that Trelfamadorian look back along my own timeline this year on All Souls Day is the silences we shared.
Today is Friday, and hence I have to work. I am also missing a noonday church service where the Litany of the Dead is held, and those we have lost have their names called out by the Intercessor during prayers. I shant be there, but I carry all of it in my heart today... Doc and his smile; doc and his stories; and Doc and his deep and calming silences, as cool and blue as his eyes.