I Step Forward: Living and Dying in the Generations.

The Grief is Real

I have recently been in the hospital for reasons not important to this post. A total of 12 days faced with my own mortality; nearly my 60th birthday, and in a hospital surrounded by the frailty of the human machine.

While interned, I learned of the passing of Jeff Beck. I had just seen Jeff performing a handful of weeks ago with my 16-year-old daughter and was amazed by his vitality. 78 years old and still pulling eternity from his guitar.

His death hit me hard, harder than most. Many artists I admire have passed and gone to the history books, but this one hit me hard. My grief was palpable.

I could not understand why this one death was more ‘real’ than all the death that came before. I searched through the news and social media for a eulogy that brought it together, that made it make sense. There were many eloquent memorials but none hit the spot. no one person said that which made it real until I heard Rick Beato chatting about it with Tim Pierce and Tim says at 15:55, (whole video) one thing: “… he was just ahead of us…“. And there it was: “he was just ahead of us”.

That night and for the next several nights at the hospital and at home, as I slept, as I dreamt, the prose bloomed.

Left: Myself and my son, Middle: my grandfathers and I, Right: My Father and I

The Before Ahead

As read by the author
I step forward.
I look ahead, into the distance and see a luminous fog behind me. 
The father’s of the grandfather’s names hang in the void forming clouds of remembrance. 

I step forward. 
The names of the father’s of the son’s loom ahead and yet they are behind as well. Their names form a wave coming to sweep me along into the chorus. 

I step forward.
I look ahead and see my brothers, just ahead, slipping into the formless void behind me. Their names ringing in the sky like all the church bells in the world singing the names of those just ahead that came before. 
Each toll of a bell, a lost brother, a tie undone. 

I step forward.
The tethers that hold me here become fewer. The names of the grandfathers and fathers and brothers become clearer and the pattern unfolds. 

I step forward.
I have come to the edge of forward and see that some paces ahead the future becomes past. 

I step forward.
I see that I am on the precipice and my sons are looking forward to where the future becoming the past is an unseen place. 
Their road is long and I am stepping forward into the past.

I step.

– Albert G. Lotito

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