Saturday, April 26, 2008

My Roy Exum Moment

Murray McLauchlan--"Child's Song" (mp3)

Because it's raining in Nashville.
Because I'm sitting in a French cafe where they don't offer refills on the coffee.
Because I miss my child at college.
Because morose French music whose lyrics I can't understand is playing overhead.
Because the air is chilly and it was still dark when I got up much too early and 4am is the most hopeless hour of each day, when you know you should be asleep, storing energy for the day to come, but instead the swirling events of the past days won't let go quite yet.
Because I live in a country where people apparently won't vote for someone because he is black.

Because of all of these things, I am thinking of a boy who died this week.

I did not know him well. I had supper with him once, teased him about a few things, asked him a few questions, mostly tried to put him at ease about what he would face in a scholarship competition the following day.

It isn't ever supposed to be like this. There is nothing more awful in this life than for a parent to have a child die before he or she does. There are larger catastrophes. There are dreadful imaginings. But this.

I don't know what I would do.

Would I be still waiting for miracles?
Would I happily send my little boy to heaven with a new set of wings?
Would I lash out angrily at anyone who might have had a hand in it?
Would I enshrine him?
Would I change the memory of him so that he would become in death those things that he never was in life but that no one dares contest?
Would I put a price on him?

Always, we think we want to react rationally to the irrational. But I don't know.

"Child's Song" appears on Canadian songwriter Murray McLauchlan's 2-record live set, Only The Silence Remains, long since out of print.

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