One of my favourite lines in Doctor Who comes right before the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration. As the Doctor is dying, Ood Sigma tells him: “This song is ending, but the story never ends.”
This idea of regeneration, transformation instead of destruction (and sometimes transformation through destruction), fits quite nicely with themes that crop up in Hapax and Strix. There’s a subtle difference, though. The Tenth Doctor’s song is over; the story goes on. My characters’ songs change, but they never actually end. Not really.
Broken down to its simplest level, I guess it really says, “Life goes on.”
And that is a painful, wonderful thing. Today marks exactly eight months since I lost my dad. Some days are harder than others. The magnitude, unexpectedness, and sheer absurdity of what happened shielded me for a long time. Intellectually, of course, I knew. Believe me, no delusions here. In terms of feelings…different story. My dad, have a heart attack? My dad, the healthy, vibrant athlete? No way, no how: not a thing.
Except it was a thing: a stupid, terrible thing that should never have happened, but did anyway.
The glory, the beauty, and the triumph of life is that it continues. The long, hard winter eventually passed into spring. Over the past eight months, some of my friends have had wonderful things happen to them. I’ve had some wonderful things happen to me. The mornings dawned bright and clear. New sheep were born. Our tiny little speck of a planet kept whirling through the cosmos.
It’s really easy to look at all of that and think, “Well, frak. The universe clearly doesn’t care—everything’s ticking right along even though we’re short one awesome person.”
Sometimes I wonder if that’s missing the point. Is it painful to write knowing he’ll never read it? Occasionally. Does it suck knowing he’ll never see another mist-shrouded cottage morning? Absolutely.
But the story never ends. It continues in the love my dad left us. It continues in the blue eyes I have to face in the mirror every morning. “Life goes on” isn’t necessarily a trite platitude, or a bitter cry of resentment. It doesn’t suggest uncaring. Not at all.
It suggests that as permanent and inevitable as death is, life will always find a way. Even in the darkest of times, there are still things which are good. And that can be a huge, huge comfort.
When the Doctor regenerates, he isn’t quite the same. Different looks, obviously, but also a slightly different personality. And yet, despite the differences, he is still—inherently, always— the Doctor. The good doesn’t get through unscathed, but it does get through.
That night eight months ago was the worst night of my life. Most of the time, it still doesn’t feel real. Unless I’m in the grip of a flashback, it’s just a chaotic whirlwind of fragmented memories and sharp edges. To be completely frank, the death of a loved one sucks more than anything else in the universe. I’ve learned a lot, but I’d really rather just have my dad and skip the life lessons.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a TARDIS. I can’t go back and change the outcome. That song ended eight months ago.
But the story—of love, warmth, joy—that never ends. As painful as this is, I’m glad, at least, of that.
PS. Skip to ~2:30 or thereabouts. Get Kleenex first.