Saturday, February 9, 2013

O Death, Won't You Spare Him Over?

“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,/ When we have shuffled off this mortal coil.”--William Shakespeare, Hamlet.

Nightmares, more likely.

Unbearable news has come... displacing the sequel to last week’s post. A considerably more dreadful matter commands the attention of all who have borne children or helped in their care and raising...

“In the midst of life we are in death.”--The Book of Common Prayer [from an Episcopal ceremony].

Ryan Krug, age 17, a junior at Vashon High School on Vashon Island, Washington, was killed in a single-car crash on the night of January 29, 2013. He was driving home after a study night with friends. The island houses large numbers of hapless deer and raccoons, and speculation is that something crossing suddenly in front of the car might have caused Ryan to swerve off the road, smashing head-on into the waiting telephone pole.

“I had not thought Death had undone so many.”--T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land [after Dante].

My granddaughter Lliralyn, age 16, is also a junior at Vashon High. She and Ryan
had been casual friends for most of their lives, but a few months ago they unexpectedly saw each other in some new light, and they became girlfriend and boyfriend. Ryan’s death has left Lliralyn silent and empty-eyed, practically comatose. My own rage would blaze the island to blackened, barren char.

“Because I could not stop for Death--/ He kindly stopped for me--/ The Carriage held but just Ourselves--/ And Immortality.”--Emily Dickinson, #712 in The Collected Poems.

I accept no excuse or explanation from any religion for the heartlessness, the cold disinterest... or is it active malevolence of... what? God/Goddess/Yahweh/Allah/Fate/Karma/ Supreme Being/Blind Chance/Universal Entropy/ Nothingness? The Non-Existent Absence that lets sexual predators and savage armies thrive, and instead chooses to murder Ryan Krug, one of the brightest lights on Vashon, a young man lean and tall, curly-haired and handsome, and lately Llira’s particular friend--the Undefinable Evil that destroyed this loving son, top student, talented athlete, budding artist, excellent
saxophonist, citizen volunteer, natural leader, and good friend to everyone who crossed his path (while remaining loyal to his core “Crew”)--may “It” burn from air to earth, seared bits be swallowed by the sea, and spirit extinguish.

“Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”--Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Almanac.

One week gone since the accident. Vashon mourns... as do we. Lliralyn takes refuge, day and night, in groups of her girlfriends, using them as shields against family and solicitous authority. She barely speaks. Slightly younger sister Maddie seems about ready to resume soccer and school; Llira clearly not. Her friends tell us she is
convinced that no one before her ever could have experienced such a level of emotional pain, or have had taken from her such an abiding, all-consuming love...

Meanwhile, Kelly (her father) and I are working on a song to celebrate the couple--high schoolers in love, treated respectfully. I wrote the lines early on, held them back for a few days, then showed them to Kelly. Will they work as lyrics? Could any words somehow assuage the many families’ massive grief? Our effort may prove an exercise in futility, yet we continue.

“After the first death, there is no other.”--Dylan Thomas, “A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London.”

Life is fragile, Death inexorable, and Love? Love is forever... and impossible... immutable... and an illusion. Love is all things to all people. Love sees what the heart sees, and Love is blind. Love is the stuff of dreams--tenuous... fleeting... exciting... never enough. Or perhaps it is selfless... passionate... all too much... impermanent... mutable... gone.

Ryan and Lliralyn were blessed by the gods, by the Mass-into-Energy Force that binds the Universe. They were also cursed by some implacable lesser evil... envious, petty, mean. Llira survives--scarred and skittish, but a scrappy fighter too. She’ll come back, and will be.

... Watched over, in dreams, by her miraculous, tragic, first love.

Then “how do you like your blueeyed boy/ Mister Death?”--e.e. cummings, untitled poem.