Apologies

(December 5, 2003; for someone who had lost his mother)

After a while, nothing remains but apologies; they flow like molasses, sticky and inappropriate and all-pervasive as they fill up the cracks in conversation that gape so emptily. Apologies for silence, apologies for noise, apologies for apologies and apologies for the resulting despair. After a while, nothing remains at all.

Apologies are corrosive; they are also addictive. They eat through condolences and consolations, exposing the shallowness underneath, because they mask only confusion. They cure nothing but only help to illuminate the illness, but no one can avoid them because they crawl in wherever the fissures lie. A tear would say a thousand times more, but cannot be summoned with half the vigour, half the ease, of a bland apology. Of course, bland apologies tend to grow into true ones, as their tellers recognize their own weaknesses.

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Next time, I'll just try to cry instead. <