Friday, December 21, 2012

Retsin Burps and Eating Like a Duck

I grew up with a lot of older relatives. I grew up in a really small place where everyone knew everyone and just about everyone was some level of old. I grew up on a farm, where the lifespan of the beings around you aren't exactly what you'd call 'lengthy.' I grew up around a lot old people and a lot of animals. I grew up looking at death as something that was sad, but also something that had to happen. Something that was supposed to happen. I would cry and I would feel the loss, but for as long as I can remember, I've always thought of it as something that happens to everyone -- so there is, in my mind, no reason to let it tear you apart.

I don't know exactly what it is I'm feeling today, but I suspect it might be a little bit of tearing apart.

Greg thought it was hilarious to pretend to eat like a duck. He'd cram food in his mouth, throw his head back, and sort of make duck-noises while everyone else in the newsroom laughed ... and wondered if maybe we should call mental health professionals.

Greg would try to say "Retsin" when he burped. He said it sounded really funny, if you could do it. I've tried. I can't. But he could, and he was right -- it sounds really funny.

I'm sitting on my couch, petting my idiot dog with my foot while I think about my friend eating like a duck and burping the word "Retsin" and thinking about how I don't get to see or hear those things again.

Up until now, I knew death had to happen. I knew there was a reason. Someday, I will know those things again -- but I don't know them today.

Everything else I want to say is full of swearing. Stuff that other people have said is better:

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there -- that's disgrace.
The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts,
It's how did you fight --  and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only how did you die?

~ Edmund Vance Cooke