Posted by Pattie on 9/08/2004 05:06:00 PM


I really don't ask that question much any more. About a year after I lost my son I saw a mother on television telling the story of losing her son to the bombed Pan Am over Lockerbee Scotland. On the wall were the words "the question is no longer how to find an answer but how to live without one."

Living without answers can be very Zen. But not today.

Today I am tired and grumpy like a little baby. I'm writing this in a public library and downstairs I can hear a child crying that "I'm tired and I don't know what to do about it" cry that babies make when they resist sleep.

Everything seems wrong with the world right now. I don't know if I can make a list. It is everything. Trust me.

I'm trying to write a proposal for a project. I remembered an Arthur Miller play that I read in the mid-1990s about a woman interviewing a 100-year-old man. I found the play by accident one day when I was avoiding reading for a class and wanted to have something to take my mind off sociology. It didn't work.

From Arthur Miller's one-act play, The Ryan Interview:

"if you notice when you go down to town--most of the old houses on Main street has those big porches? ... once upon a time people used to sit on them. Right on Main Street. And talk back and forth from one house to another. You don't see that anymore. ... I do wonder sometimes--being' there's so many of them and they're moving so fast--I wonder how do they get to meet anybody."

I copied the play for my Dad because he always told me that America went downhill when they stopped building front porches.

I picked up the play this evening and copied it again. I want to convey in my proposal the need for a renewed social conscious. I don't mean yet another political debate. I mean a fundamental understanding that we are all in this together. We affect each other. Our acting like we don't doesn't change that.

But then I read the first few lines and saw that the main character was 100 years old and I remembered something else about my Dad. He used to say that he was going to live to be 100 and then be shot by a jealous husband. It was the kind of joke that he would make about life and death, but somehow I thought he might make it to 100. When he became terminally ill at the age of 69, he told me one night from his bed, "I am okay with dying. I just thought I'd be around a little longer."

So here I am in the stacks, crying. The baby downstairs is getting louder in some sort of psychic sympathy.

Life hasn't really worked out as planned. I'm pissed. I'm sad. I'm at a loss tonight. I don't want to go to sleep. I might miss something, something important. I don't know how much time I have left and I kind of always expect to be around for a lot longer, but there are no guarantees.

I don't know what I'm trying to say, except I don't understand why. I don't understand why people die young. I don't understand why people treat each like there will always be a tomorrow and everything is reversible and no one is important. I don't know why all those lies they told me when I was growing up about hard work and reward and democracy and freedom had to be lies.

I don't know why I still care.

I certainly don't know why I'm asking why.