Friday, December 12, 2008


Everyone wants to be remembered. It's the new popular, the new famous. Memoirs are some weird form of that, like we write something that was significant to us because we have some crazy belief that someone else may care what was significant to us. It may get remembered, it may not. The important part is not being remembered, you're dead and you don't care. The important part is feeling like you will. In the end, we're just bugs in amber.
So I'm posting it. I'm posting my memoir that feels to personal to read to the class. This is one of those things that seems like you can do it until you're just about to. That's the point when you say that you can't and you freak out and you run away.
My cousin Steven had downs syndrome. When you know someone with a mental disability like that, it changes the things you value. It’s not a sudden thing, more of a gradual realization that the things you once held at an utmost importance don’t really matter. Steven died when he was three, when I was in fifth grade. I sometimes wonder if he would have affected me differently if I had been older, if he had lived longer. I guess it’s impossible to ever figure out exactly how I would have changed. I know that it made me the person I am today and that’s probably a good thing. Since he died so young, I think it gave me a better appreciation of my own life and a better understanding of the fact that I will die someday, and I’m okay with that. When I think about all of it, his affects on me didn’t have anything to do with him. It had more to do with me and the fact that I had never thought about that kind of thing, dying, before. I didn’t need him to die, I needed anyone to die, just enough to wake me up. It made me the person I am. It made me able to tell people that they’re going to die and not make it feel weird for me. The thing that really makes you grow up is accepting your eventual demise, and it seems like I’ve accepted that earlier in life than some people.
I remember when I heard that Steven had a stroke. It was Monday, and I was staying home sick, standing in the short hallway between my bedroom and the family room when my dad, who was sitting at his computer, working, said that he had a stroke. My mom thought it was Steven, one of my uncle’s brothers, but my dad said it was my cousin. That night was a blur, I don’t think that any of us really remember what we did. The next day I went to school and the school physiologist talked to me. I’m not quite sure why, it didn’t really help me deal with things, but she asked me about my cousins. Over the next few days, we would occasionally hear something about his condition. They were drilling holes in his head, it was the hole in his heart that caused it, they’re taking him off life support. It happened too fast to realize. I didn’t know what to feel when he finally died. It was sad, but it was different from anyone else who had died. I was angry at something, I don’t know what or why. It was weird, then next few days. The funeral was on Good Friday, sort of ironic. I don’t think anyone appreciated the irony. I don’t really remember much about the funeral. I remember playing BS with all my cousins. Looking back, that probably helped more than anything else. It got my mind off of everything, at least.
The thing that was so bad about Steven dying was that he was young. If you can avoid it, never go to a funeral for anyone under the age of sixty. They’re so much worse than old people funerals. Old people are allowed to die, and some of them are freakishly morbid because they and everyone around them has accepted the fact that they will die one day. No one expects kids to die, it’s just not allowed.
The thing that I learned from this, the thing I’ve learned from everything in my live, was that the only experiences that really shape us into who we are now are the really tragic ones. No one learns anything from being happy. You learn things from having bad things happen to you. You learn how to deal with it, you learn how to move on. That’s one of the most important things you can learn, and I’m thankful I learned it when I did.

1 Fab Fans:

LittleTree said...

deep sam, real deep . . .