mardi 24 mars 2009

An angry star

Mont St. Victoire

After the oatmeal's gone, you get up.

You get up after the oatmeal's finished because you have gotten up, made your oatmeal while feeding the dogs, and then taken it up to bed where you will read. You do this sometimes.

Today it didn't last long, that further moment under the duvet -- only a single chapter of Mansfield Park; today I had to do the things I had to do, and it started with making a decision to go to the funeral of the son of friends of my husband's from back when they were all university students in Paris. He knew them through their sisters before they married, back when they all got married. My husband had his first child, a son, and they had theirs, also a son, a year later.


Thursday, they will bury Rémy in the hills of Provence, where -- his father told us before we followed his son out of the church in Boulogne-Billancourt -- he could run for hours and hours in the hills he loved, but he ended his life last week beneath a train, somewhere near Paris.

"C'est tôt d'enterrer les enfants de nos amis," said a dear one, joining us alongside the hearse after the mass. I watched his parents and sisters at the head of Rémy's coffin. His mother looked up, then, and met my eyes, and she offered me a smile full of kindness that made me feel like everything would be alright.


She offered me the smile, which I returned.

Did she see Audouin next to me, Franck behind us? Did she know who I was?

He was, I am told, suffering from schizophrenia. He found drugs and alcohol young.

I admired their dignity. I wondered if I could do the same, for my son, for all of our friends and family.

"Comment font-ils ça, voir leur fils partir et rester si sereins, dignes?" I asked my husband.

"Ils ont -- une très grande fois. Ils sont croyants --" he seemed to seek further reason, and he stopped. It was enough. He is not. I am uncertain.

Maybe we both are.

I typed to a friend when I arrived home, "It makes me feel blessed. I don't use that word often." I saw Matthew is typing.

"Then that would suggest that they are damned," came his reply. I understood.

"And since they are not," I typed, "let me consider myself fortunate."

Near the Mont St. Victoire lies the beautiful village of St. Rémy-de-Provence. I wondered if this was from where his name came, for this village.

Van Gogh and Cézanne painted here.

Van Gogh sent himself into an asylum in St. Rémy, where he painted in a frenzy, 150 canvasses -- including Starry Night -- in a year. In the 70 days before he killed himself, he painted another 70 in a second period of intense creative activity, the anguish of his own mental illness.

Picasso lived nearby, in the shadows of the Mont St. Victoire.

Soon, Rémy will rest somewhere in the hills somewhere not far away.


If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrows rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetimes argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are
How fragile we are how fragile we are
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