Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's Always Sudden

Two months ago, I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my dad before I went to the movies. It was “The Body,” the episode in which Buffy comes home to find her mom dead on the couch. The episode had always been one that brought tears to Dad’s eyes and whenever we caught it, we would watch in silence. Mom would always ruin it with commentary about how many times we must have seen it and each time, including this time, we would shush her because she didn’t understand the brilliance and realism of the episode.

Dad started watching Buffy with me during the second season. It was just the right mixture of horror, thriller, drama, violence and comedy. He eventually became even more obsessed with it than I did, even going as far as to Google certain producers because he saw their names attached to other things and wanted to make sure that it was the same producers. If you knew my dad, Googling something was a bit of an adventure, since typing a name might take an hour. He would recognize an actor who played a bit part in one episode and joke, “I have no life.” However, if anyone wanted to play “The Seven Degrees of Buffy,” he would slay any opponent.

There is one scene in this episode that always made our silence go from one of attention to one of genuine immersion and relation. The Scooby Gang is getting ready to head to the morgue. Willow keeps changing outfits, trying to figure out the most appropriate, panicking about what to wear. Tara, always the comforting and loving one, doing everything she can to help Willow. Xander is angry and trying to find anyone to exact some revenge upon, whether it’s a supernatural force or a wall. Anya, a 1,000 year old demon who has never had to deal with death on a personal level, is just trying to understand. By the end of the scene, they all calm down and realize their job is to get to the morgue and be there for Buffy. Dad always loved this scene and I always knew it had a lot to do with the different ways everyone deals with death. But, I also knew that someone, if not all of them, reminded him of himself when his parents passed away. I could relate to it somewhat, because I had lost my grandparents, whom I loved very much, but it wasn’t until later that night I truly lived it and understood why it resonated so much with him.

Because, suddenly in the middle of a movie, I got a call that my dad, the most important person in my life and the only person who could sing along with me to every song from “Once More with Feeling,” was dead.

That night and ever since then, the following speech has been stuck in my head. Joss Whedon, I just have to say thank you writing my response for every person who wonders how I’m doing.

"I don't understand! I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's... there's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore. It's stupid. It's mortal and stupid. And Xander's crying and not talking. And I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever. And she'll never have eggs or yawn or brush her hair. Not ever. And no one will explain to me why."

Unfortunately, the world does not stop when something like this happens, as evidenced by my continuing to write and update this blog. I will not stop going to work, stop hanging out with my friends. I will attend the 3 weddings I am invited to this year and I will celebrate happily. I will take Meg out for her 21st birthday and make sure she has one to remember. (Or possibly not. It is her 21st afterall!) I will pay my bills and drive my car and read books and I will continue living. I will, however, never understand and I will never stop missing him. On the other hand, I will always do everything knowing that Dad is with me, especially when I am singing along to “Rest in Peace.”

And if you don’t get that last reference, look it up. You’ll like it.


jhorton2003 said...

I can never watch that episode with a dry eye. Now it has even more resonance for me.

Very good post.

Amber said...

You write so beautifully of your dad and the relationship the two of you shared with Buffy. I just want you to know that there was not a dry eye on the whole soundstage when Emma was giving that speech - and it makes me happy to think that it gives you comfort and reminds you of the wonderful times you spent with your dad. - amber

Cierra said...

Maybe one of these days i'll stop crying...just not today...