Closure, Endings, Death

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I’ve been thinking a bit about the process of death lately, no doubt due to the recent passing of someone I cared about, but also since it shows itself quite regularly around our city, albeit in different forms. It also came up in a conversation recently, in a mutated discussion on endings and the necessity of closure, a concept I’ve put into practice much more regularly in recent years, be it with projects, people, or objects: a good solid end clears the way for things to come. We mostly acknowledge the beginnings of events and relationships as they are imbued with potentiality, but the ugly ends and faded dreams get almost no attention; more than likely someone wants it covered up. I’m not necessarily going anywhere with this theme, just thought I’d share a few pics of stuff I’ve seen around Los Angeles recently that signify endings, that other necessary bracket that ties it all up. Click ahead if you want to see them.

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(Spanish speakers might want to put this song in the background as they read this post.)

The first pic is of a dead bird on the sidewalk, a common sight. I spotted the car above somewhere on the Eastside, with a painting on the trunk to memorialize the passing of a baby Joel. The memory of loved ones is often the only thing that remains, and in my view, the only thing that matters.

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I took this pic of a Hermon market with dwindling supplies only because I was interested in their beer run photo gallery. Little did I know just a few weeks later it would be out of business.

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On a Saturday afternoon, doing the rounds for some supermarket needs, I spot this muertito across the street. The yellow police tape just means the foot traffic has to walk around the dead guy. Life goes on.

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My friend Edith Abeyta recently had an exhibition where she displayed this strangely powerful basket full of ceramic bones.

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I guess not all death is unwanted: so long pesky fly!

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On a less traveled street, this locked and forgotten bike has gone flat and is slowly rusting. Next phase: losing parts to bring some other bike to life.

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At a smog check shop in Highland Park, a poster reminds us of the time when we had good public transport. But like all good things, the red cars also came to an end.

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A French Apple Pie is cut short when some sicko tops it with leaves, dirt, and cat shit. That’s messed up.

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On a similar food note, a bag of bok choy gets left out on a hot sidewalk, sun steaming for nobody in particular. What senseless violence against veggies.

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Un carito quemado, va pa’ ningun lado.

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This is one of the saddest things I see regularly; a palm tree seed struggling to grow out of a crack in the concrete only to get chopped up once somebody takes notice. But no worries, someday the plants will once again take over.

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As a former mortuary worker, I dealt with the dead and their families for a long enough time to make it all just another job hauling heavy loads. But despite my familiarity with death, it still hurts when it’s somebody you know.

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Even though these car fresheners have outlived their usefulness, somebody had the good idea to put them up on a fence to give them a decorative new life.

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Some baby taggers keep fucking with poor lil’ toothy and now someone is starting to scrape him off the window.

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Even nature succumbs to nature: a tree felled by the recent winds.

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Another fairly regular sighting; the candle memorial. This one is for a recent homicide. That’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing less frequently.

Places close. Relationships end. People die. Everything has a lifespan. This post isn’t meant to be depressing, quit the contrary. Awareness of the finish line helps you to enjoy the process of getting there. Acceptance of your eventual death, and of those around you, should spur you into enjoying the time you and yours have left. Don’t take it for granted.

Fin.

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13 Replies to “Closure, Endings, Death”

  1. I thought the Catholic tradition is to pray for the soul for a number of days after death? Some Buddhists, I think, also have the tradition of trying to guide the soul to the right place, so it’s like work to do, and no time for feeling bummed directly after death.

    Thanks for reminding me about the preciousness of relating to others.

  2. El C, yesterday (the day of your post) I spent all morning in grief counseling at work because three of my coworkers have died since September and another is terminally ill. Then I saw your post last night and it was strangely comforting. It made me feel like in some wierd way the universe is in synch. Thank you for that.

  3. This past month I’ve been thinking about death a lot. Two of my friends lost their wives, both at rather young ages (39 and 44). My sister lost a friend, also 44. My mother’s cousin died. My pet fish died. My neighbor put his cat to sleep. Heath Ledger’s death was one of those show biz shockers that come around every few years or so. It has, indeed, been a time of dying and mourning.

    A friend of mine in Spain said that she is pretending that 2008 will actually start with the upcoming Chinese New Year, as she’s felt the grimness of this particular January as well. I looked up the Year of the Rat – which starts on February 7 – and noted that, according to Chinese astrology, it’s the year of new beginnings, the first year of the 12-year cycle. The Year of the Pig, which is just now wrapping up, is subsequently a time for endings. Whether you believe any of that or not, it’s food for thought.

  4. What an intriguing and thoughtful post. From experience I can say that I accept age related death. Life, as we know it, has a beginning and an end. If you can accept birth, you must accept death.

    Again, from personal experience, I can say that it is very difficult to accept premature death, when someone is in the prime of their life and is intended to be part of one’s own future. Heartache.

  5. Thank you for the beautiful post. This year has been quite exhausting and tumultuous for our family. We are also looking forward to the beginning of Chinese New Year as MTK mentions “…the year of new beginnings…”

  6. After reading this, I didn’t really contemplate life or death or anything. I just dl’ed some Ramón Ayala songs. I loved his music as a kid and came back to it later.

  7. thanx muchly, el chavo.
    sorry about your friend.
    sorry to hear that last pic, up the street from me, is a new memorial and not *just* the pre-existing one near/at that location.
    appreciate the reminder to appreciate.
    be well.

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