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Marvin Gaye died today, some years ago. Shot by his father before Gaye Junior was 46, if I remember correctly. First song on the radio during my commute, his: "Sexual Healing." Driving home from Brewster and my colleague's husband's wake, Gaye's "Let's Get It On," immediately after leaving the funeral home.
Death and desire always go together with me. Someone beloved dies and I want to create life. At this point, writing is my alternative means of creating some form of life, i.e., bringing stories to life, along with sustaining lives that already exist, like that of the kitty, swishing the end of her tail as she rests everything other than her active purr in my lap.
"Sexual Healing," I've written here before, was the first song I heard, following the shivah period after the death of my father of blessed memory; a snippet of it played over the Stamford High P.A. system, to promote a dance that was happening the following weekend. I was the first to arrive for Civics and I cried, looking out the window at Sonia Liebowitz, arriving on her motorcycle in the middle of the day, her long, red hair hidden by a black helmet...till she took it off. I was so happy to hear music again, let alone a pop-song that I loved, and then it made me cry with desire, not necessarily for Sonia per se, but at large.
When my dad died, desire was the alternative to a complete shutdown of every emotion. I wanted to become pregnant, but was going about it all wrong....I guess I wanted to make new life to replace my father, but not really enough to disregard every bit of who I was then, i.e., a college-bound, as-secret-as-possible lesbian.
What if I had become pregnant at 17? My child(ren) would be out of college and even grad school probably now, if she, he or they had had the opportunity to go for higher education. I never did become pregnant, but it remains something I wish for, at least momentarily, whenever I am reminded of death.
"Let's Get It On" always moves me when I hear it, especially ever since the scene I witnessed around a decade ago at a saloon in the Adirondacks; I've written about it prior, too: Pat and I were at one of the earliest Adirondyke Weekends, which was organized by a friend, who retired from IBM, and her partner of 30+ years.
The song came on and another IBM friend, who's also since retired, and her girlfriend at the time, stopped the pool-game they were playing to go and dance languorously. I watched them abandon the game, dance beguilingly for the length of the song and then in slow-motion, return to resume their game, smiling at each other across the table.
My colleague's husband lay in a half-open casket as we toured the collage of his life in photos with my colleague. There he was as a young boy, standing by the couch on which a black kitty sat, ignoring him; as an even younger kid, next to a cow on a farm to which his parents took him every summer; in his sailor-uniform; at his wedding to my colleague; with his small grandson....And then stock-still, eyes shut, nearby, in the casket.
In its wood and glass box, the American flag reminded me of my dad's; both of the men had been in the Navy, though in different eras. I kissed my colleague's cheek, coming and going, and registered with another colleague on my way out that at 64, my widowed colleague's husband was only six years older than Pat; I drove home through a dangerous rain, blasting the radio to drown out any mournful thoughts as best I could, and to invite my desire in parallel.