My idea for this post came a long time ago, before I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this blog.
I wrote it in my project notebook with the rest of my ideas. It was one of many.
I know I need to write a proper biography for Matt so that you know who in the world I keep talking about. I know I need to write posts that aren’t about Matt, because there’s more to this project. And I really, really, know that I want to get to work on art.
But the idea is having none of it. It is there when I wake up. It’s there when I get ready. It’s there when I’m driving home from work. Write about the glasses. Write about the glasses. Write about the glasses.
Matthew committed suicide. He used a gun. One of the items that remained with the family after his death was his blood-stained glasses.
His mother told me about them in the weeks that followed. At one point I actually had them in my hand. Holding them filled me with as much veneration as if I would have been handed the Holy Grail itself.
The week before his death, Matt had shaved his head. Tiny hairs could still be found all over the bathroom sink.
I felt a pang of jealousy as his mother told me. I wanted some hair, too.
Why are we so attached to this human body? The hair, the blood, the fingernails…it makes a person no more dead or alive than they were before. They have no more meaning than the book still open on the nightstand, the car keys left on the cupboard, the slippers next to the bed.
Those bloody glasses kept Matthew alive. They were the bridge between death and life in the physical realm. They were the most tangible piece of him that still existed.
Better to hold on to any little piece of the body than to lose grip altogether.
I felt this even at the age of 22, when I had yet to bear children, or think at any length about my own body. I yearned for those glasses like a lonely child reaching out to its mother in the night.
It wasn’t until I had my second child that I was reminded, again and again, of those glasses. That may sound morbid, but I wasn’t thinking about them in that way. I was beginning to make a very real connection between the preciousness of those drops of blood and the preciousness of my baby’s body. The vulnerability of loving another person that much. The incomprehensible value of this human life.
And as I appreciated and adored my baby, it didn’t take much of a leap to realize, holy shit. My mother felt the same way about me.
Some of us may never make that leap, may never come to the realization that we’re both valued and valuable. We start to pinch our fat or scrutinize our pores. We complain about our hair, our butt, our cellulite. Either that, or we don’t take into account our body’s worth in the first place. We abuse it, poison it with cigarettes or alcohol or (in my case) way more butter and chewing gum than any human could safely consume. We don’t stop and think: to someone out there, this body – the same one I abuse and insult and ignore – is worth more than anything else in the world.
It was the bloody glasses – and also my baby’s delectably soft and pudgy thighs – that taught me how to love my own body.
Just as I love my baby’s hands, I can love my own hands.
Just as I love her round cheeks, I can love my own round cheeks.
Just as I love her belly, I can love my belly too.
Look at yourself. Look at your hands. Feel your face.
Do you know how precious you are?
Could you open yourself up to the possibility of your immense value, even if it’s difficult?
My dear Matthew, you had no idea how precious you were. But because of you, I’ve been blessed with the ability to see the precious gift that is myself.
To those who say that suicide is a selfish act: I simply can’t believe that. These poor ones have stopped believing in the value of the Self altogether. If only they would have known their true worth.
May you be fully aware of the precious beauty, significance and value of your human body.