In Memoriam

“It was the sort of sparkly day that mocked funerals.” –Pandora, ch. 9

It’s been beautiful and sunny out these last few days, but that’s not why I’ve neglected my usual Friday update of Pandora’s Pick of the Week. I’m writing this blog post as a tribute to my grandma who died this week.

Gloria Parypinski (1937-2011)

Death is a funny thing. Considering how I immerse myself in horror, I transitively immerse myself in death: I see it in movies, I read it in books, I write it in my own stories and poetry. Yet I still consider myself a stranger to death. When it plummets into your life unexpectedly, no amount of funeral scenes in stories you’ve written can really prepare you for the reality. There’s a funeral scene in my book, Pandora, which I quoted above. This line kept running through my head yesterday and today. The sun glinted blindingly off the cars of the funeral procession. Everything was bright. It was so strangely juxtaposed with the somber event.

My grandma wasn’t at all interested in horror, but she still supported me in everything I did. When I dyed my hair black, she was disappointed that I was no longer blonde like the rest of my family, but she loved me anyway. It’s cruel that nature snatched her away at 73. It’s unfair on her family, who were suddenly struck with this reminder of our mortality.

Those of us who watch and read a lot of horror may desensitize ourselves to gore, corpses, and death—but I hope that, in turning it into obnoxious teenagers getting their just desserts at the hand of a serial killer, we don’t learn to trivialize death.

Of course, life moves on. I find horror, in part, to be a preparation for death. We look into what we fear most so that eventually we may not be so scared of it. And in the meantime, we just have to continue living our lives.

We are reminded of what we’ll all have to face in the end, even though that itself remains a mystery. Death is hard to wrap our heads around. We can only hope that what comes before the period at the end of our lives is a great story.

My grandma’s was a great story.

Miss you, love you.

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9 thoughts on “In Memoriam

  1. I think death sometimes seems trivial in stories because we like to distance ourselves from it, cognitively and emotionally. If we think about it too much, we might just paralyze ourselves with fear. For example, we’re at a pretty high risk of dying every time we drive a car. Tomorrow I could be driving my car and wreck, and–zip, done-zo, life over. But we put this idea out of our minds in order to function in our daily lives.

    But of course, like you said, taking death seriously helps us make what sense of it we can, and enables us to accept it as best we can when it’s our turn.

    This is turning into a very long post, but—have you ever thought much about corpses? I’ve sometimes been looking at an image or representation of a dead body, and I’ve been struck by an odd sensation–as if the corpse and the memory of the once-living person are irreconcilable. The idea that a living, thinking human person can be suddenly transformed into a hunk of dead organic matter seems absurd, in an odd way.

    And I just realized that maybe that’s one argument for an “afterlife” or a soul. It’s like: where did all of that ENERGY go? Mustn’t it be conserved, as far as we understand physics? How can all the physical energy of life just…extinguish? I don’t know what I believe in those regards, but it’s certainly something to think about.

    • Yes, corpses are a strange thing. It was extremely difficult to reconcile what I was looking at in the casket with my lively grandma. As for energy, you can only produce what you consume, and I suppose whatever leftover energy there is goes into decomposition? (I am not a scientist). If you mean energy as in thinking and existence… well, that’s neurons firing in the brain, and once the brain is done, that “energy” or whatever you will call it will stop being produced. And I’m going to stop there because this seems like a morbid conversation to be having after this weekend.

  2. I can only imaqgine she looked back on her life and marvelled at the family she helped create and the ones her children did. I’m sure it was wonderful. To your grandma I say safe journey. To you Joanna thank you for sharing. Time will pass and the pain will ease. My condolences.

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