I have to go to a funeral next week. I don’t want to go, but then, who, if they had a choice, would want to attend one. It is not that it is sad, per se, which it is. It is because of the feeling of finality. A loss that cannot be recovered. You know you are never going to see them again, and you are not sure you are personally ready to let go.
I can’t say it comes as a surprise. I’ve seen it coming for a long time. We all did. There wasn’t much we could do but observe the changes as they occurred. There were signs of abuse, but no one spoke of them. Everyone just kind of watched it happen without any intervention. I guess we thought it was none of our business. What was going to happen was going to happen. Then, as time went on, the withdrawal began. Slowly, people started to ignore them, and their relevance began to wane. Any respect for them was hard won, and often, short lived.
And finally comes this day. This time of reflection, asking ourselves how this could happen, knowing full well that through our failure to act, we were complicit in the death. We are as guilty of the killing as if we had done so with our own hand.
There will be no reception. Only a short ceremony. A formality really. I don’t know how many will attend. We were all aware of the demise, but to many, the occasion is of little consequence. Life will go on and they will be missed by some, but, as is so often the case, they too will be soon forgotten.
There will be those of us that will continue to remind others of them, speaking fondly of the old days and the shared friendship we had. Unfortunately, being of another generation, many people never got to know them at all. The young, impatient to make their own mark, didn’t have time for them. They spoke a different language, one foreign to the young. And slowly, they sank into obscurity.
So I will dutifully attend the funeral. I will pay my respects and then move on. I will probably be one of those that will, at least for a while, try to remind everyone of how great they were. Then I suppose, I too will adjust to the new reality. I too will forget the words that were crafted over the years that held us in good stead. And I too will mourn the death of the English language.