Shooting the Messenger

Till Death Do Us Part

Say It Ain't So

One of my first memories is of a man crying. I had been playing with his son in a sandbox that afternoon. It was not a real sandbox, just a pile of sand dumped in the middle of a muddy driveway. The boy's father, who was in the gravel hauling business, came home at the end of the day—unaware that his son was still playing on the pile of sand—and drove over him.

My older sister took me to my friend's house to see him one last time. I was standing in front of the open coffin admiring how good he looked in his tidy little suit and tie, his black hair combed back all slick and shiny, when the tiny coffin started rocking back and forth and a voice started to shout.

I looked up and noticed a man with his hands resting on the open end of the coffin, jerking it back and forth and yelling, “Wake up! You're not dead; wake up!” (Réveilles toé! T’es pas mort; réveilles toé!) over and over again. The man was crying, with big tears running down his face. It was the first time I had seen a grown man cry. I promised myself I would never do that when I got older.

I did not cry when, maybe seven years later, I suffered a similar fate to my childhood friend—crushed under a giant wheel. This near-death experience would serve to remind me, later in life, that we are not here just to occupy space; that we are here for a reason and not just “to live well,” to quote George Herbert [1593-1633], while waiting the join humanity’s fickle invisible friend in the Hereafter.

It's not that I don't get emotional; an unexpected kindness can bring on the outset of the tears I swore I would never shed. I am easily disappointed, not easily discouraged, as you will discover. This does not always lead to good things.

Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this, except that it ain't so.

Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935