Sadness Alert! This post will be painful to read.
He stood there biting his lower lip. “It is very difficult,” he said. “I cannot resign myself.”
He looked straight past me and out through the window. Then he began to cry. “I am utterly unable to resign myself.”
(from “In Another Country” by Ernest Hemingway)
Close day in Erie, Pennsylvania, but central air pacifies me. So does a Smoking Loon pinot noir. A soprano (Callas, Sutherland, Caballe?) sings something from Madame Butterfly—I think. When hunger intrudes, I’ll walk a few feet to the kitchen, open the refrigerator, and decide what not to eat. That’s how stifling my life is. I have to eliminate meal options.
I’m inexcusably comfortable but for one trifle: Aylan Kurdi drowned. A photograph of a police officer carrying him from a Turkish beach appeared on the evening news. I recognized the boy immediately, his toddler legs. He was my grandson Cole. The tender calves, the tiny sneakers!
Two hours ago, he said, “Pop, come.” He had a tennis ball that he wanted me to toss high into the air. Into the humidity, above the young tree in his front yard, the yellow globe flew, then fell to the grass. Cole bounced. Or was it Aylan?
Now, as Jussi Bjorling kills some high notes from La Boheme, I comprehend: Aylan = Cole.
If my son-in-law fled bombs with my daughter and grandchildren and lost them to water, I would want nothing more than to join him, to sit beside their graves until merciful death arrived.
I cannot resign myself. I am utterly unable to resign myself.
Or as Aylan’s father Abdullah said, “I don’t want anything else from this world. Everything I was dreaming of is gone. I want to bury my children and sit beside them until I die.”
Hemingway’s Senior Maggiore grieved the unexpected death of his young wife from pneumonia after he had survived war, hand maimed but otherwise viable—the absurdity, the affront.
Syria is a hemisphere away, but geography is a rationalization. Aylan in the wet sand is Cole in the wet sand. To hell with similes. Any other conclusion is bullshit, for me and for the world. Our best hope is for Aylan to be my own grandson–and your very own, too. You feel this with me, don’t you?
I want to pick that boy up off the beach and love him back to life so badly my throat burns. You, too?
The Smoking Loon is gone, and I’m hungry.