Thursday, June 07, 2012

My Medicine for Melancholy

Ray Bradbury - August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012
I apologize Mr. Bradbury...

I'm sorry... Ray...

I just know you would have let me call you that. I borrowed your title "A Medicine for Melancholy" to title this post.  I believe you'd be OK with that. I just know that you'd be amazing, and encouraging, and joyful, and generous. Because everybody who met and knew you says you were. But I know it's true too, because that is how your stories are.

Amazing.

Encouraging.

Joyful.

Generous.

Alive.

You were born the same year as my father, my adoptive father. Your stories walked alongside me like the shadow of a wonderful uncle, a bit mysterious, but trustworthy because family - real family - always is.

My name was written over and over and over again in the library cards of your few books that resided in the collection of Jasper Jr.-Sr. High School. It was just you and me it seemed. I tried to tell others, but no one else signed out your books. Maybe because I always had them. Sorry Ray.

I made up for my jealous hoarding years later when I would go to my kid's elementary school during parent reading week and read "Uncle Einar" to them. I still remember their faces - looking as I must have looked the first time I read "Golden Apples of the Sun" and "Dandelion Wine". Awe. Wonder. Glee.

Your inspiration resulted in my writing a script for a play that got produced in my high school and getting a poem published in the same school's yearbook in 1978 - the year I would have graduated. The dropout made it into the yearbook because he wrote something. I cherished that idea because it made me think of you and your unconventional educational path. Uncle Ray's shadow on my shoulder.

I dreamed of writing to you and asking your permission to adapt "A Medicine for Melancholy" into a one act, three-scene play. You had already done all the hard work. The story is 80% dialogue anyway, and your prose is all character development and subtle stage direction. It would - still could - be wonderful.

You made me want to write. I admit I don't have your diligence, your commitment, your fire. That's why you're published everywhere and I'm alone in the school yearbook and the cold corners of the internets. But I did end up writing - every week - for 8 years. And speaking those words. And you were - no you still are - right!  It's the best work in the world!

I can't meet you now. An entry gets crossed off my "bucket list". But I did meet you. In Green Town, Illinois. In the red dust of Mars. In the swirling autumn leaves of Anytown, Anywhere when the Dark Carnival came rolling in. I met you wearing a Wonderful Ice Cream Suit. I believed you when you said, "Have I Got a Chocolate Bar For You!". I knew if I asked you, you would send me spores so I could Grow Giant Mushrooms in My Basement. I stood by you in the African Velt. I saw your stories moving on the skin of The Illustrated Man. I was singed by the heat - Fahrenheit 451 to be specific - of your prose and poetry. I heard you call in The Distant Sound of Thunder. Together we lifted our voices to Sing the Body Electric.

Thank you Ray. I'll miss the idea of you being alive. I'll mourn the thought of your pen, typewriter, word processor being silenced. I'll grieve that you will never offer me a new window into your soul in eight to fifteen pages. I'll miss reading that new story and how it would create a reflection that shows me a new part of my soul. But I thank God you were a writer who wrote. I thank God you loved your art, your talent, your gift, your craft. I thank God people who loved you made sure you were published. Because of that, I won't miss you. I won't be able to. You'll always be a good cup of coffee and a turned page away. Your loving shadow on my shoulder always.

I believe in God, Ray. You know that now. I trust that He will let you keep writing. It was what He made you to do.

Shalom

1 comment:

Tony Pasolli said...

Brian well done. Ray did indeed have a impact on many lives over the decades. I have never taken the chance to read many of Ray's stories (Far 451 was great) but I can see in your writing his impact on your life. I can picture Ray sitting by his typewriter, twinkle in his eye, writing from the depth of his soul. Amazing gift that God blessed him with. Thanks for showing this to me. Blessings.