Saturday, January 21, 2006

Reflecting on the Death of a Younger Brother

Timothy Kane Mahon, 1948-2006

To everything there is a season, says Ecclesiastes. Bullshit.
Last March we buried our 98-year-old mother. It was her season.
Now you’re in a morphine fog; chemotherapy and novenas equally useless. This is not in season.

Do we accept it patiently, the inscrutable act of a loving god? And so insult both men and god.
Or raise a fist to the heavens and cry, Revenge! And while we’re at it, tell the seas to go dry?
Or endure like Job, til we can suffer in silence no more?

Job asked, Where is your Justice? God bellowed, Behold my power!
Job said, Your power is evident. I asked, Where is your justice?
And with that, God is dumbstruck and never speaks in the Bible again.

What a fool I must have sounded last month, when I prattled on about the will to live.
You already knew the terminal diagnosis, didn’t you? And were too kind to shut me off.
So cruel when an oncologist is reduced to layman’s term: ‘The cancer exploded within you.’


How parallel our lives played out:
We each drifted as far as possible from our hometown,
To live by our separate seas, apart from the drifting snow.

We each enjoyed success as solo practitioners, possessing dad’s Irish way with words.
You arguing cases before the INS; me describing deeper-denser DRAMs,
In abbreviated, abbreviation-filled careers.

We’ve each remained married to lovely women for over thirty years,
And each of us watched three rugrats become splendid young men and women.
We even had common vices: short fuses, hollow legs, and no time for the company of fools.

Then with all that in common why could we never talk? Beyond the conversational.
What led up to that weekend in August ’63 when a curtain came down between us?
Lifting only towards the end, and then only some?

We were close once, eh Timmy. Tykes at the toilet bowl, sword fighting with pee streams.
I envied your natural batting stance and your cool crowd of Cub Scout cronies.
And your wit, when you told the folks that Election Day: Vote for John Kennedy or ‘that other guy.’


Once I knew, but now I feel, the pulse of the exchange between Zorba and the poet:
~ What’s the use of all your books if they don’t tell you why that good person died?
~ They recount the agony of those who cannot answer that question.

It is humbling, after a lifetime with words, to see how useless they really are.
Maybe they’re the best we have, but they’re paltry at best. It happened because it happened.
There’s a void here now, amid the noise. Beyond is silence. But I believe, no void.

Au revoir, Tim. Rest in peace. You certainly earned it.

Love,
Tom
1/6/06

2 Comments:

Blogger charlie said...

My brother died recently, he was 8. I'm 19. I feel there is a time for everyone, some are just luckier and finish early.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Robyn said...

My email address is robynhanifin@yahoo.com.au. Tom I would like to buy the book reconnecting, try emailing you but it balanced back I live in New Zealand can you help

2:30 PM  

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