Saturday, April 08, 2017

National Poetry Month: Last Words (for Marc)

Marc Lederman died on December 11, 2016.

I met Marc and his wife Joy through a mutual friend several years years ago. We got together that first time, and several times afterwards, for a session of tabletop games. The first was "Kill Dr. Lucky," but there were many after it. Marc loved these games, and he took special pleasure in reading the rules aloud for all players before each game. He also loved entertaining, and any gaming session at his house would be accompanied by a feast, often featuring pork prepared in a variety of ways.

Outside of my experience, Marc had many other sides to him. He was a proud and active member of Mensa, the high IQ society. He was a practicing magician for many years. He was a collector of many things. He loved movies, and outside of his regular job he would also usher at a theater, taking in many first-run movies along the way.

Marc loved to engage in disputations of all sorts. His comments appear throughout my blog and on many of my Facebook posts. Sometimes it seemed like he was being contrary just for the pleasure of engaging in an argument. I'm still not sure if he really held some of his positions, or just assumed them to be contrary - or to challenge the person on the other side of the argument to think carefully about their own positions.

Marc was a big guy, with a big heart and big appetites. In the end, that may have been what killed him. His last words to Joy, as she revealed at his memorial service on March 31, 2017, were "Is this it?" When I first heard that I immediately thought, "Well, that depends what you mean." I took that as the starting point of this piece.

At the end of each game we played, Marc would poll the players to get their opinions of the game. Two questions were always asked: Did you enjoy it? and Would you play it again?

Yes, Marc, I did. And yes, I would. I wish we could.

Last words
for Marc

"Is this it?"

Depends on what you mean.

Has your heart stopped? Are you drawing your last breaths? Have you had your last cheeseburger, watched your last movie? Have you thrown your last dinner party, read your last set of rules? Are you about to die?

If that's what you're asking, the answer is "Yes."

Or are you posing a more metaphysical question? Is this the end? Is this all there is? Is your life, your existence, over?  Will the universe go on without you?

That's a bit trickier to answer.

I can still hear your voice. I can still read your words. Nearly sixteen weeks after you died, I watched you perform two magic tricks in a video salvaged from a broken computer's hard drive.

Your voice lives on, inside my head. I hear you, questioning, challenging, assuming the opposing point of view. Are you being contrary just to be contrary? I never knew then. I do not know now.

As long as we can still hear you, are you really gone?

"Is this it?"

The game is over. The board has been put in the box, the pieces in the bags. The box is back on the shelf.

Did you enjoy it? Would you play it again?

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