On the 24th of Sep is my sons birthday. He isn’t with us anymore. Last year, I lost him to leukemia after a years fighting it (He got very sick on Christmas Eve, he sliped into a coma right after new year and we lost him on Valentines day). He loved games and was very good at them. GW2 was one of the favorites and a wish he had when he got better, was to visit Arena Net (there is a fund in Sweden for children with cancer that help them make a dream come true). He never got this chance. He would have become 16 this birthday.
I would like to do something on his birthday in game under the banner of the guild he created and that I have kept alive, Swedish Dragonhunters [SweD]. I don’t know what or maybe if people would like to help me let this guild live up for a day doing what ever they normally does. If so I can give an invite. I’m JonasBL.8270 (EU) in that case. After, you would be free to stay or leave as you want ofcose.
A father’s heavy grief has led him to ask their beloved Guild Wars 2 community to help honor his child’s memory. His request? For his son’s guild to be populated with members enjoying the game as they would any other day, as his son would have wanted. For one day, on his birthday, his son would be guild leader again.
Not only have developers of the game responded to join the guild, but other players have sworn to wear the guild colors, conquer the most hotly contested inter-server castle while representing his guild, and join together in-game to memorialize him. His son will live again in the realm of the heroes he fought with and trained with. He can be at peace now in the Mists.
In such artificial communities as online gaming, how much better can the permanence of memory and the fragility of loss be captured? When all metaphysical boundaries dissolve and we are together as humans each treating one another as our own, what greatness we can achieve and what immortality we can uphold.
(Back of envelope, no reference, 5 minutes.) Today’s my father’s birthday and I drew him a train on the back of his envelope.
You can stop there and laugh at the terrible lack of regard for perspective or how locomotives work, but you can also read the longer story of why I love trains, of the most beautiful painting in the world, and of the time my father spent all day with just little old me.
The earliest birthday I can recall is my 5th. It was my first birthday in America and my mother had flogged six balloons from a person who worked in the same food court she did, and worked late so we could afford to buy me a cake. My father spent the entire day with me and stayed home to wait with me for my mom to get off work. He even paid attention to me for the whole day. I remember being satisfied that the cheapest option for candles was still the most colorful option: a detachable train set, complete with a caboose! I wasn’t as much of a fan of locomotives as I am now, but I chose them because they were colorful and we were poor and I wanted so much to feel special. What makes a kid feel more special than so many colors?
I recall privately figuring you could reuse the trains, which were little plastic candleholders and didn’t actually move, and had selected them hoping I would get a cake in future years, too. It seemed an impossible and luxurious dream at the time. Who gets cake every year?!
But what I remember most of all, was my very busy father sitting down, still, painting a beautiful card for me on printer paper. It was my colorful set of trains carrying a birthday message for me. I’d never known there could be so much beauty in his harried soul. To this day, after seeing so much sublime art, it’s still the most beautiful painting in my heart.
Breaking rocks against the sun-driven wind.
You wanted something
and got husbandry instead,
The idle murmur of rhubarb
against the floorboards
of exhausted interest.
–JZ Gong, 2015
I had no wishes
for the viridian sea
tossing its white caps
with no care for my words.
In being lost in a state of nature
I remain still
free from the Lockean ego
of ascribed labor
–JZ Gong, 2015
I like to watch
the little motions
the memory in a land so
like forgetting you lost your heart yesterday
and kept reaching to grind
chapped hands against another rasp of grief,
a boy echoing
from deep underneath
building momentum until
he crashes against
the inexorable drove
like a broken clef
dead of the turn of
an asphalt road in a vacant zip code.
I always thought I’d be the first to go.
told them the secret importance of life yet,
I dream in moments.
I dream in lives.
I’m still here.
–JZ Gong, 2015
There are no houses left.
In the blind striving I can see
stuttering behind your wide eyes
mistaking a tide of numbers
All I wanted
was a place to be left
to be left alone in.
You didn’t need to guess how much I would want
a yard to look out to
from my workroom spire.
I’d rather you think
of your children
and not perform
the magical transmutation of responsibility
for nurturing that I watched my parents do from afar.
Shining. Fearful. Feral with civility.
–JZ Gong, 2015
I found it on a radiant day
after a long drifting.
It was green and blossoming
as the sun over palm trees
scattered golden bouquets;
April was generous that season
with loving and sun.
I found it
after a long wandering.
It was a tender evergreen bough
where birds took shelter,
a bough bending gently under storms
which later was straight again,
rich with sap,
never snapping in the wind’s hand.
It stayed supple
as if there were no bad weather,
echoing the brightness of stars,
the gentle breeze,
the dew and the clouds.
I found it
on a vivid summer day
after a long straying,
a tedious search.
It was a quiet lake
where thirsty human wolves
and swirling winds could only briefly
disturb the waters.
Then they would clear again like crystal
to be the moon’s mirror,
swimming place of light and blue,
bathing pool foe the guardian stars.
I found it!
And now when the storms wail
and the face of the sun is masked in clouds,
when my shining fate revolves to dark,
my light will never be extinguished!
Everything that shadowed my life
wrapping it with night after night
has disappeared, lain down
in memory’s grave,
since the day
my soul found
(trans. Patricia Alanah Byrne, Salma Jayyusi, and Naomi Shihab Nye)
Yonder stands the orange-tree
Showing odd its fruits to me,
Gleaming teardrops lovers shed
Stained by passion’s heartbreak red.
Balls of agate carmine-bright
Hung on boughs of chrysolite,
Sent a-spinning from the trees
By the mallet of the breeze.
Now I kiss them, now inhale;
Thus my senses I regale
With their cheeks’ so tender bloom
And the sweets of their perfume.
(trans. A.J. Arberry)