Social Bookends


I could feel the contrast brimming from the itinerary — a morning memorial for Bobby and afternoon first birthday party for Emmett — the social bookends of life.

At the high school gymnasium, the memorial celebrated us and how we carry the memory of Bobby a bit further forward into the future. What was it, to have been in this world with you, this idea of your spirit? And what of this idea do we want to take into our future? Did Bobby understand his importance? Did we, while he was here? We certainly do now.

The birthday party, in the backyard sun, proxied a celebration about parenting, as Emmett with his cake-smooshing hands unable to comprehend anything meaningful in the way that the rest of us collectively believe these celebrations are about. They were strangely, similarly not directly for the one-year-old, more of a first dress rehearsal of a ritual about the one-year-old.

They speak words about Bobby, saying all the brightest elegies he cannot hear. “Why don’t people say these things before they die,” he had wondered.

We sing about a numbered candle before Emmett can understand the words, thinking all the best things for him. I take his picture, understanding that the colors and shapes will be so foreign to him — in his imagined future — and yet so clearly about him, that day when a group of people helped bring the idea of a person into the future.



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