Monday, September 05, 2011

Earnest d'Angelo has Heart

“I won’t pretend that I know how you feel,” says Earnest d’Angelo. But the slow thoughtfulness in his voice, and the careful way he measures his words, tell me that he does.

“My Grandfather died when I was 14,” Earnest d'Angelo continues. “Several nights after his death I realised that if someone as solid as my Grandfather could die, anyone could die: my parents, my friends... And then it dawned on me: I was going to die.”

Earnest d’Angelo is looking at his hands, his still, strong and patient hands. I look at his hands too; they are real hands. I wonder if Earnest’s hands have a familial likeness to those of this Grandfather I never knew.

“For the first time,” says Earnest d’Angelo, “I looked at my life and asked why.

It started with one why, but soon why questions were racing at me with such ferocity that they knocked the breath out of me. The why questions bit me, ripped and clawed me: relentlessly they came. The why questions were a black storm in my mind.”

Earnest d’Angelo is quiet for a moment. The memory of the why storm flashes behind his grey eyes.

“The why storm lasted seven years,” he says, his voice full of sadness.

I want to tell Earnest d’Angelo that I’m sorry about the storm - sorry that it lasted for seven years: but I don’t. I don’t want to interrupt Earnest d’Angelo, I want to know what made the why storm stop.

“One day – it was just a day like any other – I was listening to the why questions, and I realised: I’d heard them all before. There were no new why questions.”

Earnest d’Angelo sits up a little bit straighter.

“That night I walked through the darkness. I walked away from all the houses and cars, walked to a place where the stars shone a little brighter. I looked up at those stars and whispered: 'I don’t know'.

Earnest d’Andelo looks me in the eyes and then quickly looks away. I’m holding my breath.

He says, “For the first time in seven years, my mind was quiet. It was there, standing in the silence, that I heard a new sound. It was like a soft and muffled voice in another room: it was the sound of my own heart beating.”

I dreamt of you that night, the night after Earnest d’Angelo told me his story. I was a child again and you were driving. I was still small enough to stand in the backseat foot-well without my head touching the roof. It was the days before backseat seatbelts, but I was safe because you were there. Your hair was black and your shoulders were broad and strong. I reached out and touched you then, but my hand passed right through you.

As I awoke, as I drifted between wakefulness and sleep, I thought I heard your voice in the other room.

But it was only the sound of my own heart beating.
Post a Comment