Life, Death, & Sappy Lines
“Watcha readin’?” Inquired Farrah.
She abandoned her anatomy textbook and pressed against me, stealing a look at my book. We lay on our backs in the field at Rock State Park. She tilted her head on my shoulder continuing to stare at my book. She pressed me, “What book is this?”
I answered, “It’s a book of mythology.”
“Read it to me,” she beamed.
“What? It’s not a nursery rhyme,” I laughed.
Farrah whined humorously, “Come on, I don’t want to read my book anymore, I’m tired of studying.”
“It’s really not that kind of book,” I answered.
“Please,” she laughed.
I started to read, and she stopped me and asked, “What’s the name of the story?”
“It’s the story of Persephone and Hades,” I answered.
Farrah lifted her head from my chest and said in realization, “I remember this story. It’s the story where the girl is taken to Hades and can only leave part of the year.”
I agreed and said, “Yes, she is the daughter of Demeter who governs the harvest. Demeter threatens to destroy the mortals if Persephone was not allowed to leave Hades.”
Farrah rested her head on my chest, and I could feel her tension. It had been about six months, but the death of her mom continued to weigh on her. Farrah hardly had time to deal with her mother’s death. The cancer was discovered in the final stages, and between the chemo and cancer she was ravaged and taken within a few short weeks. I tried to avoid discussions of parents and mentioning mothers. She rubbed my right ear with her left hand as she rested against me and said, “It’s okay. You can read it.”
…golden-haired Demeter sat there apart from all the blessed gods and stayed, wasting with yearning for her deep-bosomed daughter. Then she caused a most dreadful and cruel year for mankind over the all-nourishing earth: the ground would not make the seed sprout, for rich-crowned Demeter kept it hid. In the fields the oxen drew many a curved plough in vain, and much white barley was cast upon the land without avail. So she would have destroyed the whole race of man with cruel famine…*
When I read that section, Farrah interrupted me saying,
My mom was just like her. Well, no magic powers, but she did anything to protect me especially after dad died. I used to think she was too overbearing sometimes. Now, I understand her better. It was just her and I. We didn’t have any other family. Now, I’m the last Piazzo and…
As she spoke, I thought about the last six months and how Farrah had been able to maintain her school work, job, and make decisions for her Mom’s funeral and other final considerations. She cried at night when the responsibilities of the world came to their brief overnight end. I held her many nights when sadness overtook her. When the morning came, she rose to the day’s challenges. Even six months later, she had still not returned to her former spirited self.
During this period, I believe Farrah and I were forced to contend with our youth and inexperience. I was 27 and she was 24, and at those ages, death is a foreign abstract ideology without context. Even if you’ve been exposed to it, you still don’t seem to grasp its inevitability. This ignorance makes death tragic for the young because you haven’t had time to discern what makes life worth living. As hard as I tried to summon some form of knowledge or wisdom, I was still largely ignorant of the world, life, and death. In absence of some sacred knowledge, I listened to her,
…sometimes I feel so alone. I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m supposed to be doing. Other times I feel like I have some larger purpose that is waiting for me to discover. Then there’s us. Sometimes I’m not sure how we got here. I don’t want to sound crazy, but we just seem to ‘fit’. Everyone I dated was a monumental effort, but with you, everything is easy and simple. Sometimes, I’m worried that I’m tricking myself, and I’m scared I might lose this feeling.
I wished I had something better to tell her. I wished I could give her some better comfort or peace. I wished I could’ve articulated my feelings better, so that she would’ve known that I felt the same. But when you’re young, sometimes the most potent wisdom is the simple raw truth — even if its understanding eludes you. I rolled and leaned over her, brushing her hair away from her eyes saying, “I don’t know where we’re going, and if this feeling is a trick — it’s a damn good one. I don’t want to sound sappy but all my relationships are a footnote at the bottom of you and me. I can’t imagine being with anyone else.”
Farrah smiled, kissed me, and for an instant I thought she might jerk a tear from her eye. Instead, she turned her head violently to the side and motioned like she was going to shove her finger down her throat and laughed,
Oh God! That’s so sappy. I’m going to puke. You should write for Hallmark. Maybe you should start singing Hootie & The Blowfish and really take that sap to the next level…
She continued rolling from side to side making gagging noises and throw-up sounds. I ignored her, returning to my book, grateful that Farrah was becoming herself again.