Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wondering, slightly off-topic

If anybody is still here, and on the off chance you still want to know where the hell I've been, I'll tell you. I spent the last day and a half same place most you likely did-- glued to screens and speakers, catching up on details and coverage. (Where I've been for months before that is a separate question, one I keep meaning to address in something other than a sidetracky note in parenthesis.)

As you undoubtedly know, among the coverage from the Pentagon and from Pakistan, and from the White House, there is coverage from Ground Zero and from many a studio where family members of those who perished on September 11th have come to answer questions about How They Are Feeling Now.

A digression, or a sidetrack, if you will. About two and a half years ago Elizabeth McCracken's An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination started making rounds in our little corner of the blogosphere, and so did the lines from the book that many of us wanted on t-shirts (or carved carefully and lovingly into rotten tomatoes conveniently available to us any time the urge to throw one, or at the very least the line on it, at the clueless/malevolent overtook us). One of those lines, one quoted frequently and with gusto by many a babylost mother was "closure is bullshit."

Back to present day. I notice one persistent theme in the coverage. Every time a relative or a friend of a 9/11 victim is interviewed, no matter the outlet, there is always that ridiculous question-- "does this provide closure for you?"

And so, though I know that is not the main thrust in the events that have been unfolding around the world since early hours of Monday morning Pakistan time (not entirely surprising, this, as I do tend to, from time to time, you know, digress... wait, where was I? oh, yes-- not entirely the central point, but...) I wonder whether maybe, just maybe, this time it will finally sink in.

Because in an inspiring display of dignity (and honestly, I find myself offended for these people every time they are asked about this), every single relative that I've seen or heard has said approximately what Elizabeth wrote, though in language more suited for mass media,-- there is no closure, there is no such thing, it doesn't exist, he/she/they are still dead, and we still miss them and have to live without them.

Closure is a convenient stamp. It is a useful plot device, and it is a great marker for those unaffected who want those affected to be OK-- what you need is to get closure and move on. I hope it will sink in, but I know it's unlikely. The allure of simple explanations and carefully wrapped up stories is too strong, and we're only human. And yet, knowing full well that I am pretty much hollering into the wind, I want to echo Lee Ielpi, father of Jonathan, firefighter who perished on 9/11, as quoted in the NYTimes this morning: "No closure. That word should be stricken from the English language."