I know, I know, you should never node drunk, but like the guy stoned out of his gourd that feels he has, somehow and much to his surprise, arrived at some truth, my intoxication, mild though it is, seems to have given me a glimpse of it all. Tonight, my wife, who is a musicologist, had her undergraduate students over to our house for one of her famous musical salons. Thirty young men and women piled into our small house and made the most beautiful, at times transporting music you have ever heard. A young Israeli played the saddest song you have ever heard, the platonic ideal of grief, like liquid tears, a Hebrew song that(as I discovered later) was the lament of a man upon being separated from his wife and children who stayed behind in Europe during WWII. Another boy sang a bittersweet Georgian love song while accompanying himself on an odd middle european lute. I heard a brass quintet play an arrangement of The Beatles'Blackbird and When were 64 and my son showed a precocious aptitude to elicit sounds from a french horn, a trombone and a tuba no less, quite a feat for a six year old pipsqueak. Beautiful young girls sang opera arias that made you swoon from their raw beauty, both of the girls and the music, the air hummed with vital force. A young colleague of my wife played a Theremin in our dining room, the distillation of every science fiction movie of the 1950s.
As the evening was winding down however, and there is no way to make this lyrical, our twenty-one year old cat had a petit mal seizure. The world came to an abrupt halt as our poor old man flopped about the floor and yowled in pain and longing for relief, which fortunately soon came. He calmed down and the event passed. My son however did not fare well this time. Though it is not the first time The Goose (such is the moniker we have saddled our poor cat with) has had a seizure. In fact, he is always better after them. I mean it. The vet has certified it. But tonight was the first time that you could really see that he was in pain. My son retreated into the kitchen, just a room away, and I followed. When I caught up with him, he offered up the gem that I opened with.
My son, in his short life has had to deal with more than his fair share of death. When he was four, my wife's colleague, mentor and surrogate brother, someone my son called uncle, disappeared for a month until the BU crew found him floating on the Charles. In May, his maternal grandfather finally succumbed to a protracted bout with Lou Gehrig's disease.
I know that we are all biased and feel our children are exceptional, but when my son said that to me, I felt the whole weight of the entropy of the universe was poised on his small shoulders. His voice carried a realization of mortality on a cosmological scale that I felt dizzy in. I could do nothing but hug him and say, "Yes, everything ends, that is why life is special".