Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dealing with deification

"That Ted, he hasn't done anything wrong in twenty years."

That line came from Paul, in response to some issue in which my parents' were aggravated with me, and the spector of my brother's perfectness hung in the air. Paul managed to be funny and totally sum up the situation with that one line, something he manages to do a lot. (My brother, for the record, was amazing--but not perfect.)

I don't find a conflict in not thinking my dead brother as perfect. I loved his imperfections, too. But I think it's hard--especially when family members are on a different track--to not feel guilty about that, and also to not feel aggravated by others who take the deification route.

Plus, for surviving siblings, it can be hard to ever measure up again--as Paul's one liner brought home. It's just one of many ways that grieving within families gets complicated.

What brought this to mind? This unusually nuanced article about family grief in The Wichita Eagle.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Googling Ted

"I like to browse the G's with confidence."

-That's Buddy Glass in J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey, explaining why he won't cancel the phone number he and his dead brother, Seymour, shared when they lived at home together.

I totally get it. It's hard to think that someone that is permanently imprinted in your cells and your psyche has disappeared. It's nice to have a tangible reminder that they existed. Which is why I've found it interesting, in an odd sort of way, to google my brother's name and discover that, more than twenty years after his death, he has a web presence.

On a similar note, my therapist died a year ago, and I can't bring myself to delete her phone number from my cell phone. For a few months, out of curiousity, I actually called it, to see if her machine would still pick up. After about nine months, the voice on the machine changed to someone else's. I knew exactly why her family had let it go so long, though.

My brother exists, if only in cyberspace. Ted never got to see the internet, but he would have loved it.