Friday, March 31, 2006

I go to my father's house (I)

A year has passed and the death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI seem like only yesterday (or at least only a few months ago). The first anniversary is the death of John Paul, when thousands camped out in St. Peter's Square and millions more camped out in front of their televisions.

My paternal grandparents have in their home a picture of their daughter, my aunt, reaching out, surrounded by hundreds of people, with John Paul passing by and touching her hand for a brief moment. In a way, that picture is emblematic of the man: a larger-than-life figure with the power to inspire millions, but nevertheless a figure who slips through one's fingers and is gone as quickly as he came.

This is supposed to be about John Paul, but in a way, I can't really write about him in any meaningful way. For twenty-four years, he was 'the Pope', end of story. He was here before I was; he was never really mine. By the time I was conscious of him as an individual, he was already old and worn down. The stories about him skiing and hiking and being a dashing, handsome figure of a pope were simply stories that seemed hardly real when compared to an old man who was slugging it out with his body and well aware that it was a losing battle...

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