Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mourning and Reflection

Yesterday afternoon, an enormous swarm of zombies came into Frankfort from the direction of Louisville. We estimated the number at somewhere around five thousand. They stuck together in a huge mass, and it was a very lucky thing that we caught them before they got close enough to overrun our defenses. Seven of us took off to draw them away from our home. My brother has been working on some improvised weapons to combat large hordes like this, and we got our test.

Let it be enough that I can tell you that we succeeded. We killed a lot of them, but our main purpose was to point them any other direction but ours. In the struggle, we lost two people. We have enough here that I have a hard time finding the chance to get to know anyone very well, and the most I can tell you is that they were with the large group of folks that came in with my brother.

Something Treesong has said a few times has stuck with me, and is partially the reason we have had a morning like this one.

He says that part of the reason we call them zombies is because the easy label and the visceral reaction it brings makes killing them more bearable. He cannot help but see them as people with a sickness. In sentiment, I agree with him. These used to be people, and doing violence to them does hurt. But the idea that they are sick people is false, yesterday made that very clear to me.

One of our people was bitten in the neck. I watched her bleed out, the powerful arc of scarlet gradually weakening after we pulled her into the back of the pickup. I saw the moment of transition, watched as her eyes lost focus, her breath stilled. I saw with perfect clarity the moment of death, unmistakable and stark.

I watched her stand up, and come for us. This was not a person afflicted by a disease, but a body, animated by something, freed of the soul once bound to its every motion. That didn't make it any easier to shoot her in the face, this person who only minutes before had fought valiantly by my side.

I intend to take a very detailed look at the physiology of the undead. Now that things are calming down, my curiosity has time to be sated. Many of us want to know how and why this is happening, and with luck, we will discover it.

But I digress. Yesterday only cemented in my mind that there is a need within us to remember, to keep in our minds what we have lost, if for no other reason than to keep some tenuous grasp on what humanity once was. So, last night, we all gathered and discussed having a time of mourning. It began at dawn.

Many people are gathered in the common area of my block, sitting on the grass and talking about loved ones now gone, missing the small things in life, wishing for simpler times. Some are lamenting a home far away, still covered in the obvious wounds garnered in a struggle to escape, while nursing the far more subtle injuries that make them toss and turn each night. Others sit around the edges, in twos and threes, sipping courage and watching silently, mourning blended so tightly with anger that moving on may be an impossible task.

I sit here in my house with all the comfort I will ever need. My wife is laying across my lap, my mother across the room talking with my best friends. In a short while we will go outside and truly gather, to remember as one the world we have left behind in everyday life, if not in memory.

But first, I have some things that I want to say, because they should be said and the record of them kept somewhere, in the event that we as a society and a species end up spiraling into the barbarism that seems the wont of some survivors.

I want to mourn today, but I find myself feeling very lucky, personally. I have around me so many people that mean more to me than I will ever be able to express in words. I have retained much while so many others have lost it all. I say this not to gloat, though I know that some will see this as an inappropriate fact to point out. I wish that those who have lost everything but their own lives would join with us as a family, grow with us all as we forge ahead in this difficult and trying life we share. If I have more than you, then come sit in our circle, and my family, my friends, can become yours as well.

I mourn the loss of so many good souls. But far more important than what has been lost is what should be held onto with dear life: the aspects of ourselves that define us as human beings. We should remember compassion for others, more important than ever as new survivors with little left to them join us in trickles. We should remember understanding, that we never again fall into the trap of refusing to grow and change because we are unwilling to listen. We should remember generosity, the only currency we have left. We should remember patience, so that those who hurt have the time they need to grieve and grow past the pain.

We should remember love, for what better motivation to protect and survive exists?

We should remember hope, because without it, why survive at all?

Remember all of these things, and keep them in your heart, mind, and actions each and every day. We can be practical, and hard, and even brutal when needs demand it. But in our softer moments, when we share the stories of our day, our lives, and sit together in the darkness, we need to always carry with us what it is to feel these things, and smile.

We are people, as different as snowflakes and blades of grass, but now more than any other time, we must remember those commonalities that we share, one and all. The ties that bind us are the skein upon which our future is woven.

Don't let them fray.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the mostly positive, and deeply human, post.

    As someone with a belief in what others might call supernatural, I do have mixed feelings about what these zombies actually are. After reading your post, I've come up with the flip side of my comment about why people call them zombies.

    Maybe these zombies really are a supernatural phenomenon. And maybe people just call it a disease because that makes them feel better about the fact that a supernatural phenomenon has lain waste to human society.

    That's a dark thought, I suppose. But for the most part, like you, I am happy just to take a moment to sit out in the sun with the ones I love and enjoy the little joys we still have left to us, even in this post-apocalyptic world.