5.19.2017

Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXII

Here's an excerpt from a book I recently read, "Fire Shut Up in My Bones: A Memoir," by Charles Blow:



On a previous trip to the cemetery I’d learned that Chester had been a twin, but that his brother was stillborn. The dead baby had been buried in an unmarked grave in our family’s area, somewhere to the left of Mam’Grace and Papa Joe, near the trunk of a large tree. But by the time I learned of Chester’s twin, the grave had disappeared.

On this day I walked around that tree, looking for some evidence that the ground had once been turned—a slight indentation, the remains of a tiny mound, anything. I wanted to find that boy. My young mind couldn’t help but imagine that he was dead because of Chester. How could Chester have lived and the other boy died? It was simple: Chester had killed him before they made it out into the world. He was another boy whose life Chester had taken. I figured that if I could find him, he could help me to survive, tell me some secret that he had learned too late to save himself. 

I never found the grave. But, standing there under that tree, I imagined that Chester’s twin could hear me, that we understood each other, and that there in that shaded spot we cried together. 

His spirit was present there, as were the spirits of Papa Joe and Mam’Grace. Like the boy’s grave, I was lost too. But there, surrounded by them, I found the remnants of myself. There my soul could again be quiet, still and untroubled. 

It was like the way I’d felt at the skating rink before I’d reached for the aspirin, except then it had felt more like surrendering to weakness. This felt more like gathering strength. In that moment in the graveyard I saw my own life and trials through the prism of past lives. In that moment the weight of my shame and separation was lifted. 

There, among the sleeping souls of old folks and in the company of a dead boy, I came back to life. But a boy still walking can’t stay in a graveyard, even a boy so recently broken and dead on the inside. I had to find a place to heal myself among the living.
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