follow tali on ...

the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
NOV
18

Faulkner and Funerals

I was genuinely moved at a funeral this week when the deceased’s widow brought up William Faulkner. I would have been moved anyway, her husband having died much too young and in the sudden sort of way that left no time for goodbyes, but the literary reference caught me off guard.

This woman is strong and together and in many moments of her remarks seemed so composed and matter of fact that you’d have had no idea she’d just lost her husband. But when she, in the most raw sort of way that only the grieving can, finally broke down over how hard it is, how sad she was to put his body in the ground and never get to look at it or touch it again, I wept. I wept for her and her children, for all of us. I wept because even the promise of heaven does not soften the blow of being separated from a loved one for the next several decades. How do you learn to do life without the person you do life with? Where is the comfort in that if the comfort doesn’t come until you yourself have left the earth? It’s a question I’ve never been able to answer.

It’s like that story, the widow said. A Rose For Emily. She reminded us of the basic plot, which is that Emily keeps the deceased body of the man she loves, in her bed, and even gets in the bed with the body, a fact that’s discovered upon her death. It’s such a classic, frequently-read story. As early as high school I was scrunching my nose in disgust over the whole icky idea. It disturbed me, frankly. It had disturbed the widow, too, except here she was now admitting she finally understood why someone would do it. And the thought of closing the casket and leaving him in the earth was so much worse than taking him home with her, as she wished she could.

Honestly, it’s the first time I’ve felt any amount of affection for the story. The first time it struck me as something tragic and almost beautiful. It’s the first time I’ve left a funeral craving Faulkner.

MAY
07

Pre-Mother's Day Pontification

b2ap3_thumbnail_mustache.jpg

After Schooled was published, someone commented to me that their favorite characters were my parents. Not at all major players in the book, they apparently still left this reader with a sense of their down-to-earthness. True, my parents are golden (“the two most constant and sparkling fixtures to ever decorate my life”), and whenever Mother’s Day is upon us—closely followed by Father’s Day—I find myself waxing pensive. (When am I not waxing pensive? Good question.)

I don’t classify myself as first and foremost a religious person, though I do have convictions that are very important to me. I believe, for instance, in heaven. That we will exist after we die. It’s always made sense to me then that we probably existed before we were born. So any theology or conjecture around this possible pre-Earth state always piques my interest. For me, honestly, it’s the only way that life makes any sense. I mean, otherwise, what is the point? (Where am I going with this? Another good question.)

If you subscribe to the idea of some sort of pre-Earth state, then I’m particularly curious when it comes to the topic of families. Did we, for instance, pick the families we would be born into? Draw straws? Receive assignments? No one can really know, of course, but I suppose this is a roundabout way of saying that if we did have any say in our future families, I know I would have chosen exactly the family I’m in. If you’re still with me, and I hope you are, I apologize for going all convictionite on you. It won’t happen again. At least not until next Spring.

And don't mind the mini mustache magnet. It's a family thing.