Posts Tagged ‘death’

Mourning a fictional character

Last night, I watched the season finale of the FX series Sons of Anarchy. And by the end of it I felt not only emotionally devastated, but deeply traumatized.

If you haven’t watched the series, know this before you dismiss it out of hand: It is, in many ways, a complex exploration of the story and themes of Shakespeare’s acclaimed play Hamlet (with grim intimations of the Scottish play) — an interpretation more intricate and unforgiving than any I have ever seen — all rendered in modern dress on motorcycles.

Given those starting parallels, which I’ve perceived ever since the pilot episode, I should have seen this season’s finale coming a mile away. But I didn’t. I refused to believe the show would go there. I couldn’t dare to let myself imagine that such horrors would be visited upon such a core character of the series, or that such a beloved and central figure of the series would meet so horrific and grisly an end.

Consequently, I went to bed last night haunted by the death of a character I had come to love, one with whom I had learned to empathize. Someone I was rooting for, even in the darkest moments. I realized as I closed my eyes that, despite all my efforts to purge myself of the memory of that character’s violent and gruesome demise, I couldn’t stop seeing it. It replayed in my mind’s eye whenever I closed my eyes, like some Hollywood cliché.

I realized I’m in shock. I’m grieving for a fictional character. The tragic end of someone who never existed outside of a realm of shared imagination has nearly reduced me to tears.

The actor is alive and well, unharmed, and no doubt already under contract to star in some new series next season. But still I’m haunted; my gut twists as I relive that fictional person’s last moments and I rage against the waste of it, the injustice of it, the stupidity of it. Part of me still can’t believe it. I’m actually in denial.

And that’s how I know that showrunner/creator Kurt Sutter is a fucking genius, and his writing and production staff is clearly among the best in the business.

It also makes me fear for the end of the series. Now that I see this horror was unavoidable, that the parallels to Hamlet and the Scottish play demanded this moment transpire by some means — and when I factor in that the show’s rendering ripped my heart out far more than Shakespeare’s ever did — I now realize what the series finale must have in store. And it’s not going to be good. Not for anyone. If Sons of Anarchy plays out as I now fear it will, it might very well become the most unflinching, gut-wrenching, long-form tragedy ever produced on television.

Time will tell. But until then, I will continue to reel from the blow the show dealt me last night.

“Defend me friends. I am but hurt.”

A hard couple of days, months, years, lives

Sometimes things happen in life that, if you saw them in a movie, you'd throw your refreshments at the screen.

Several years ago, a friend of mine from high school died of a heroin overdose, and his funeral, by coincidence, fell on my 30th birthday. At the time — this was in the days before 40 was the new 30 and charcoal was the new black — it seemed so cliché that on a day which in popular culture was meant to symbolize the end of youth and the irreversible plunge into adulthood, I was burying a boyhood friend. Had I written such a scene from my imagination, I would have thrown it away as utterly unbelievable.

But there it was, happening to me.

A few months ago, David Honigsberg, a dear friend of mine who was also my rabbi and the co-officiant of my wedding to Kara just a few years earlier, died of a sudden massive heart attack. He was only 48 years old and had appeared to be the very picture of enviable health. His absence continues to feel, by turns, unreal to me and then like a deep wound. But by horrid chance, his funeral fell on the day of my wife's birthday (thankfully not her 30th), so that gruesome coincidence is now something that we have in common.

Again, if I was scripting my life, I would have uncapped a red pen at that point and gone to work.

Yesterday, in the early hours of the morning while much of New York City slumbered, a sweet and talented young woman named Sandra Jimenez passed away of cancer. Only a few hours earlier, my friend and hermano Randy had married her in a private bedside service, a final testament to the heroic love and devotion he showed as he supported her months-long fight against this swift and tragic illness. His faith in her, his love for her, and his hope for a remission never faltered. If you want to know what courage looks like, this is it.

Would it be believable if you saw it in a movie? Who gives a shit? That's not the point. It's life. That's the point.