“Why should the separation (if nothing else) which so agonizes the lover who is left behind be painless to the lover who departs”- C.S. Lewis
The difficulty of hearing someone say, “Your parents would be so proud of you,” or “They would want you to be happy,”portends questions that I suspect will take a lifetime to grasp, let alone answer. In the meantime, I can’t help but cringe when I hear the words, or some version of them, uttered so casually in an honest intent to console. Granted, when you make two albums that deal directly with loss, there’s a level of complicity involved, but the sentiment, nonetheless, leads only further down a road of confusion and, more often, panic. Albums, music, and conceptual pursuits aside, the same consolations will always exist, as what else do you say to someone who has lost so much?
Having lived through the death of both of my parents and subsequently taken it upon myself to deal head on with their loss through a mode of representation as public as published music, I can say in all honesty, that there are no answers, at least none that I can conceive of or witness on a comprehensible horizon. I am, however, beginning to think that answers will never factor into anything I do, especially when it relates to mortality, as how do you talk about what’s no longer there without resorting to more cute aphorisms that are lodged in an endless cycle of language that attempts to heal a mortal wound with a kiddie bandaid. The questions are what matter, if only because they occupy us and take us at least briefly away from the only thing we know for sure. The people we love are gone.
When I say gone, I knowingly limit myself to a timeline of my own making, as difficulties arise in the present once the thought of the person you lost no longer coincides to the place in which that thought arises, meaning, the person you have lost still exists in a time and place from which you have left, and not by any real agency or choice of your own. You are then faced with a dilemma. How do you truly move on? The necessity of the physical universe says you do, and, in a sense, this is true, but it doesn’t erase the traces you left behind that will always lead you back to that place where they still exist. Making sense of the idea of someone you love being there, then suddenly or, in my own case, slowly and progressively, gone, is about as impossible as time travel, yet, we are meant to nod and give thanks to the consolations provided us through the comforts of friend’s and family picturing for us a quaint metaphysical picture of our parent’s looking down on us in pride for all that we accomplished without them. What they don’t know is that grief has no room for comfort or any neat little narratives of how its all going to be ok, because, frankly, it won’t be, at least not in the way we imagine.This is not to say that life is sad and depressing forever. But it's an insult to the power of our existence and the love we have for each other to think that we can’t carry grief with us simply as it is, a hole that will never be filled, especially when our ability to express it is limited only to what we know or pretend to understand.
Francis Harris' Minutes of Sleep is out now on Scissor and Thread.