From Present to past tense
Auden’s “Funeral Blues” characterization of funeral perhaps most aptly describes the sense of loss that one feels upon the passing of a loved one: “He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.” While Auden shows us the devastation of funeral mourning, he does not there address the grappling with the permanence of that person’s passing, the transition to addressing the person forever in the past tense. That was something that hit home markedly at the memorial concert for a friend who tragically died in January at the young age of 30. We heard two hours of people delivering hauntingly beautiful performances of Amy’s music because she couldn’t. There was so much love, so much loss in that room, but so much finality about her never to return to the stage with that “extra dose of awesome,” guitar in hand and mic stand in front of her petite figure as she sang her songs of love and loss. Her music lives on now only through recordings and others’ renditions, which beautiful though they are, still echo her absence, her missingness. And none of us quite know how to grapple with accepting that loss.
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Miranda Yaver is a political scientist, health policy researcher, and comedian in Los Angeles. She received her PhD in Political Science at Columbia University in 2015. She has taught courses on American politics, public policy, law, and quantitative methodology at Washington University in St. Louis, Yale University, Columbia University, and Tufts University.