The internet tells me that today is the tenth anniversary of the finale of Six Feet Under, a series which aired on HBO from 2001-2005.
Ten years ago today, my first child–my son– was 18 days old and I was a frantic, euphoric, sleep-deprived, love-swallowed mess.
Nevertheless, I was not going to miss the final episode of a show that had held me absolutely in its sway. It may have been the first series since M*A*S*H, when I was a child, that I entered, and experienced, so totally. Oh, the hot spark it caused in me. The scar. I’m not sure I could bear to watch it all the way through again. Too much. Too true.
But the story stayed with me. It stays.
As if there were something other than this weather—
ice-heavy branches bent beneath a purposeful weight.
As if there were something other than fright, this heavy-
handed strangeness. The child, who weighs near eighteen
pounds today, did not begin this way. No, no, then, slim
and wispy and slight; unaware of how you spun, split
yourself, spiraled into a vision of him, years out, old,
older, now but a wisp of skin and hair and nails. Nothing.
Nothing. In the series finale of your favorite cable television drama,
a young woman with insistent red hair drives away.
Away from her crazy, beloved family and toward a bright,
heavy life. Drives a heavy family away. Heaves a family finale.
Toward and away from now which feels as much like place
as time–your body its milky topography with no map key
in the bottom left-hand corner. The woman, a bright stranger
on the television. The child, a heaving stranger in your arms.
For two weeks now: dull ache, shut drapes, rocking, rocking,
rock-hard breasts in a hot shower, hoarse voice in a hot
shower, voice singing in a darkened room, voice brightening,
awakening, pushing you down. In the series finale, everyone dies
in their own time and you hand your child—whom you do love,
but inarticulately yet—to your husband and you weep
for five and a half hours. You know you will drown
amid these strange, bright fluids. You will all bend
beneath this sweet, frightful weight.
–from Beautiful Nerve
The show’s life ended as my child’s life began.
That’s as good a story arc as any I can imagine.
photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gorbould/