On Monday I saw this headline in the New York Times “Brother Says García Márquez Has Dementia”. Generally, I keep this blog pretty closely focused on myself (as it should be) but this breaks my heart. The article describes Marquez’s brother as saying that while he won his battle with cancer several years ago the chemotherapy and a family history of dementia are taking their toll and he can no longer write. As someone whose neuronal synapses are eroded, corroded and definitely not up to code I understand what happens when the brain fires but the thought never reaches its destination. However, I’ve never written even a sentence with the grace and depth of García Márquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera are two of the most compelling and beautiful books I’ve ever read; the kind you want to mark up with pen or highlighter because he touches your soul repeatedly. The kind where you simultaneously think ‘he knows exactly how I feel’ and ‘my God, I’ll never have a thought that grand’.
To know that a man who could write such things has now lost the ability to do so seems horribly cruel and unfair. Dementia is a fear for many people in their later years but it is hard to imagine how terrifying it would be when words are your life. When the very core of your being is expressed in a manner so uniquely your own that by putting together seemingly incongruous words and phrases you profoundly touch other humans. It doesn’t happen all at once, so it seems as if the moments of clarity would be almost worse then the lack. In those moments you know who you were and what you’re losing.
It is this kind of situation that reinforces my belief that I am not afraid of death but I don’t want to contemplate dying. Death will merely be another step in the journey but the dying feels as if it will only bring out the worst of my self, losses and indignities.
Time to go back, revisit his wonderful works and remember…
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” –Love in the Time of Cholera
“...time was not passing...it was turning in a circle...” –One Hundred Years of Solitude