If I think of her, I think of her as moving, I thought, contemplating the clean floor. I can’t think of her as still. As a child, she was a creature of quick birdlike movements. She talked quickly as well. She fidgeted. After the shadow of her disease fell over her—transforming her into a nervous and wiry pain in the ass—she continued to be a creature of quick birdlike movements. She winced, for example, and gestured quite a bit when she was talking. Her hands made flurries of gestures. And even for the last ten years—during which I have had no opportunity to observe the movements of Moira as I had failed to seek her out—even the meager news I received about Moira suggested movement and activity. Moira was always trying this new medication or talking with that doctor or forming this support group for people with depression or joining this group in advocacy of animal rights. Come to think of it, for a person suffering from debilitating depression, Moira sure seemed to be getting out a lot. She seemed to be busy is what I mean. Of course, my impression of her last years comes purely second hand from very terse and sporadic bits of news conveyed to me by my mother when I asked. Also it is the very nature of news to convey activity. And of course news always leaves a lot out. It leaves out empty time, for example. News leaves out empty time by definition. It’s quite possible in Moira’s life those bits of news I received from my mother when I asked represented mere specks of activity floating few and far between each other in a vast gelid arcade of empty time.
But I don’t think so, I thought, contemplating the clean floor. In fact, I think my impression of activity was probably accurate. For one thing it is in accord with everything I knew about Moira before I had ceased seeking her out. For another, there is the matter of the note. In the note, my mother said Moira—in addition to apologizing for her own suicide—left instructions for her funeral. She wanted to participate (albeit by proxy) in her own funeral. What can be more active than that? But more than any of this, I simply cannot conceive Moira wadded in the cottony suffocation of empty time. It was not in her nature to become immobile. It’s painful even to contemplate the possibility of Moira smothered into immobility through the agency of empty time. In fact, I cannot do it. Finding her in her apartment utterly motionless—that is permeated with the motionlessness of death—must have killed her father for a time. It must have killed him for a time even though he has since continued living.
Come to think it, I thought, contemplating the clean floor. It’s bizarre and completely illogical for a person to commit suicide and yet leave instructions for his or her own funeral. That’s not to say people don’t do just that. Sure they do. People are famous for doing just that. Nonetheless it makes no sense. After all the whole point in committing suicide would be to not be there, wouldn’t it? And by there I mean not just the funeral but anywhere. Isn’t that the point in suicide? Simply to not be anywhere doing anything? What I mean is if someone decided to cease participating in life, what would be the point in participating by proxy? I mean Moira would have had to imagine her own funeral, imagine arranging her own funeral, imagine how she would arrange it were she there to arrange it. That is she had intentions regarding her own funeral. Leaving instructions is a way of carrying out your intentions without actually being present. Leaving instructions says that you want to be there but you can’t be there. Leaving instructions says I can’t be there; these instructions are the best I can do. This all makes perfect sense in every situation except suicide. In the case of suicide, it makes no sense at all because in the case of suicide, one doesn’t want to be anywhere even at one’s own funeral. The whole point in suicide is to avoid the next day altogether and all the next days so what would be the point then in leaving instructions? Why when one had gotten to that point—the point at which one did not want to go on living; and it couldn’t have been easy to get to that point; even in the situation Moira was in and had been in for some time, it couldn’t have been easy to have gotten to that point; it would have taken work; it would have taken a lot of work; quashing one’s hopes for example would have taken a lot of work and quashing one’s fear, that would be no picnic but Moira had managed it; she’d done all the work and she’d gotten to that point—so why would one then bother putting oneself into the next day at all even in imagination to say nothing of participating by proxy in the form of instructions?
My feeling is she couldn’t help herself, I thought, lying on the floor, contemplating its clean-ness. She wanted to die but at the same time she couldn’t help herself from making that one last gesture toward life. That is she couldn’t help herself from fussing. She had done all the work it took to bring herself to the point where she could decide to no longer participate in life; she had done all the work that it would take to get to the point where she felt compelled to withdraw from life; where she felt unable to participate in life for even one more day and even at that point, she couldn’t help herself from, or keep herself from, fussing about the funeral. She wanted these people to attend. She wanted this to be said. She wanted this song to be played. She didn’t want to live any longer but nonetheless she wanted her funeral to go a certain way. I don’t know how detailed her instructions were—because I hadn’t asked because I hadn’t wanted to know and I want to know even less now—but any instructions at all would be a matter of fuss, wouldn’t they? After all, what difference could it make to her? It’s almost as if she didn’t believe it. She didn’t believe that she’d be dead. Even sitting there alone in her apartment, writing her note with the medication in a bottle right beside her, she didn’t believe she’d be dead the next day. If she knew she’d be dead the next day when the note would have been read, there would have been no point in writing a note. There would have been no point in apologizing. It was fuss. But she couldn’t help it. As much as she wanted to be dead, she couldn’t help but make one last gesture toward life. Fussing is a gesture towards life. In a way, fussing is even a defining and characteristic gesture towards life. What’s fussing but caring about stuff that doesn’t make a difference? There is absolutely nothing that one can do in life that from some perspective or other simply doesn’t make a difference and therefore life is always to some degree a matter of fuss. Funerals, for example, are pure fuss. For the living funerals make very little difference all told and for the deceased funerals can make no difference at all. But the living care about funerals anyway. What’s more, the more they care, in a certain way, the more alive they are. But how can the dead care? As a deceased person, Moira’s funeral could make no difference to Moira and as a deceased person Moira could not care. However as a living person, she found various aspects of her own funeral that—though they could make no difference—she cared enough about to want to participate in that very same funeral if only by proxy. This was a childlike thing. A suicide note is a childlike thing. Suicide itself must be considered the most un-childlike thing in the world, but a suicide note is completely childlike. It’s childlike because it’s a kind of pretending. It’s pretending you are going to live when you know you are not going to live. I’m going to die but let’s pretend I’m going to live. If I were alive, my funeral would look like this. This is who I would invite. This is what they would say. It’s like a kid’s game. No-one was ever less a kid than Moira on the eve or her suicide. But at the same time, Moira couldn’t help herself. She couldn’t keep herself from fussing. She couldn’t keep herself from pretending. So even while she had done all the work to bring herself to the point where she felt compelled to withdraw, where she felt unable to do anything other than withdraw—close herself up completely, in fact—from life, with her note she was reaching out. She was reaching out with all her limbs, as it were. While she was being sucked backward into absence, her instructions were reaching out toward presence. There she was in her apartment writing her note with the medication in front of her. There she was sinking backwards into death but at the same time reaching out for life with all her limbs. Finally, she closed herself up completely—with that child like convulsion.