When my great-grandfather died about 20 years ago, he wasn’t the first person I’d ever known to die, but he was the first to share my blood and to have shared a conversation with me to die. I remember feeling sad for his passing, and wondering how it made my mother feel, since he was her grandfather, but my emotions were vicarious. I did some math.
Many of my friends in school had grandparents way older than mine. Many had experienced the death of a loved one, usually grandparents. In elementary school, that always seemed the most reasonable tragedy. There were other bombshells — I knew a girl who died from an accidental stabbing, on Thanksgiving, as well as other infrequent cases of sibling or parental death — but dead grandparents were de rigeur, a dime a dozen, the coin of the realm.
I fell in love with superheroes and comic books around this time. My first love was Spiderman; my life love, Adam Warlock. So many heroes powers symmetry or asymmetry (or both) their personalities and histories.
Superman is a near-ominpotent alien whose powers stem from his unique reaction to the rays of our sun; his Achilles heel is kryptonite, a near-nonexistent alien element his powers have a unique reaction to. Reed Richards’ incredible brain stretches light years beyond even the exceptional human limits; as Mr. Fantastic, he can extend his body to unprecedented forms and extremes. Bruce Banner’s wrath and raging lead him to become The Hulk, a juggernaut whose strength lets him overcome if not transcend any and all obstacles, but also one whose unpredictable wrathful rages render his powers a mixed blessing at best.
What if I had a superpower? What if no one I loved would ever die? What if it was as simple as deciding it should be so? Borges wrote Todos los hombres, en el futuro, serán capaces de todas las ideas — “Every man should be capable of all ideas and I understand that in the future this will be the case.” Ideas once considered impossible are always being exposed as achievable, ergo “anything is possible,” ergo someone somewhere would have the power to keep everyone they love alive, forever, if only they had the imagination to consider it, and the commitment to never let the idea slide away.
My paternal grandmother died today. Continue reading