Saturday, May 30, 2009

Further Thoughts on the Loss of My Sister Esme

My beautiful sister Esme was murdered on March 7th, 2009, in Cincinnati, at the age of 13.  As you might expect, I have constant thoughts about her and many, many other things that touch on her life and death.  Being a writer of sorts, I feel a need to write about them, and have been searching for a way to grapple with this event and the enormous repercussions it has had in my life and that of many others.  It has been difficult to find an elegant way to do this, so screw elegance.  I am just going to write stuff that is going through my head, in simply numbered thoughts, when I feel the courage to do so.  

I In the wake of my sister’s murder, the most recurring experience for me is of facing the unfaceable, though it be the one thing my life is forcing me to deal with, with no way out, no quarter given, no breathing room, no softening. It is a terrible wall that I bump into several times a day, that I keep pushing into, trying to get through, over or around, but it stretches as high as I can see and to the horizons on my left and right. And my thoughts are so useless, but unstoppable; I just don’t want this to have happened. Please, can’t we just go back. I don’t want this to have happened. I want Esme back. This is one of the only things in life that is absolutely non-negotiable, and the only thing I can think of right now that I want to change. The wall is still there; I can see it whenever I close my eyes, and then again when I open them.

II I don’t believe there is any ultimate explanation for these kinds of events, or to the organization of reality. I don’t believe in any ultimate purpose or meaning to our existence. I don’t believe that there is any kind of method to this madness which will become clear to me at some point, perhaps upon my own death. The one thing that I have told myself and others again and again during this ordeal has been “it is what it is.” It is what it is. That’s all I can say, all I can see. Though I have been agnostic regarding god and the nature of things beyond what we can see for a long time, I am more doubtful than ever regarding the existence of any kind of conscious, intervening entity beyond the observable. If there is one, I am inclined right now to have nothing to do with him/her/it. I do respect those who have a different relationship and understanding of the world, but I don’t share it.

I don’t think this makes my life meaningless, however. If this makes me a relativist, then so be it, but I do think we can find our own morals, our own goodness, our own purpose in our lives, just as well as we can from traditional spiritual sources. I can look around me and recognize pain, suffering and cruelty, and see many of the things that contribute to these darker pieces of life. By chance, as I see it, the world has evolved in many different directions: toward the beautiful, the unbelievable, the complex, the simple, the frightening, the useless, the mysterious, the enormous, the small, the evil, the ugly, the good. I can see them and find my own way to the things that I hope will make the world a better place and relieve the suffering of some small number of others in the world.

III I have some conflicted feelings about any sort of good that might come from the event of my sister’s murder. Part of me doesn’t want to learn anything from it, and to retain my anger. I don’t want to become a stronger person because of this. I don’t want there to be any good that comes from this, This is all bad, all bad, all bad. You don’t want to ask what I would trade for the happy return of Esme; there might not be anything good left in the world but her smiling face.

But it’s just not true. In my heart, and in the part of me that most shares Esme’s open spirit of love, I do want that explosion of love and light my dad and stepmother talked about in their memorial statement to spread across the world. For myself, I want to be a better person, From Esme’s example, I want to become a braver person. I want to be less selfish with my time and get involved with other people’s lives and in my communities. I want to help others. I want to get involved in my own life and make things happen, make the decisions I need to. I don’t want to mess around any more. I know I’m not likely, nor do I want, to make my life into a saint’s, but I want to keep my eye on the things in life that are important, to me and to the communities that I can touch.


mom/grandma said...

Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Brian. It is beautifully stated. We love you, mom

Nikki said...

Thanks for being you, Brian. You articulate what I'm probably avoiding right now. I'll be going into writing retreat in June so I will face it all then. For now I feel buried and confused....I love you and cherish our relationship. This piece brought me to tears, although everything does these days.........thanks again for being you. Will post more myself soon.
Much love, Lisa

Nikki said...

Not Nikki, sorry didn't know she was signed in still. This is Lisa. Soooo many people use my computer.

shawnee said...

brian..ty for your posts..i read your posts every chance i are so talented with your have a way to make a person think on things. im glad you said screw elegance...thats how i feel about wording things that are too hard to really convey, but you do have a special talent with your writing, you find comfort in plants and the beauty of glad you have that.

Nikki said...

This is the real Nikki (sorry Lisa). I think your analogy of a wall is really true - it's something I bump into, almost blindly, a few times a day. Life is progressing normally, I am playing trains with Cam, and then I bump into the fact that Esme is gone, tragically gone. It is still shocking and confusing and I wonder when those feelings will change, and what they will change into. I feel that her gift to me in her parting, the good that has come, was a greater appreciation and love for my family.

Thanks for putting these thoughts out there, as painful as the process was.

dldeprez said...

I have come to love your sister, and I don't know why. I wrote somewhere that Esme is the preservation of the world. The sin of a fallen world, the kind of world that breeds her murderer, fell upon her. She died violently at its hands, innocent. Her unblemished sacrifice can redeem it when the world learns of her, comes to know her as you know her. In the meantime, there is unspeakable helplessness, vulnerability, and just searing pain. To contend with you regarding life's absence of meaning is futile. I would feel like Job's detractors. The wall is humbling, inexorable. I hope and pray, as tears stream down my face, that you endure. Your words teach and compel my own searching.

Anonymous said...

I was stunned to hear about Esme. It was about six weeks ago. I hadn't looked up your blog for most of a year (too busy with work, etc. and wary of the timesink that cruising the 'Net can become). My life, too, has been full of random events recently--bad, weird things happening to good people--and I'm familiar with that wish simply to turn back time. Though I didn't know Esme, I read about her life and her gifts and feel what a huge loss this is for the world. I am so, so sorry for your loss. -Susan

Brian Kenney said...

Thanks, everybody, for your kind thoughts. Love, Brian

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