"Name's important," he said. "Keeps track of who you are."
"I guess so."
"That's right. Name's an important thing. You picked a name for your baby yet?"
"No, but I got some I'm thinking about."
"Well, take your time. Can't rush a thing like that. Name's too important to hurry.... Get your baby a name that means something. A sturdy name. Strong name. Name that's gonna withstand a lot of bad times. A lot of hurt."
"I never thought of that."
"I used to be an engraver . . . trophies, plaques. Cut gravestones, too. You do a thing like that, you think about names."
"Yeah, I guess you would."
"See, the name you pick out is gonna be with your baby when nothing else is. When nobody is. 'Cause you ain't always gonna be there."
"Oh, I'm never gonna leave her. The way some people just leave, go right out of your life. I'm never gonna do that."
"But you're not gonna live forever. You're gonna die. We're all gonna die. Me. Her. You. . . . You're dying right now. Right this minute." He looked at his watch, said, "Right this second," then tapped it with his finger. "See there? That second passed. It's gone. Not gonna come again. And while I'm talking to you, every second I'm talking, a second is passing. Gone. Count them up. Count them down. They're gone. Each one bringing you closer to your dying time."
"I don't like to think about that."
"You ever think about this? Every year you live, you pass the anniversary of your death. Now, you don't know what day it is, of course. You follow what I'm saying?"
Novalee nodded, but just barely, as if too much movement might break her concentration.
"Look here. Say you're gonna die on December eighth. Course, you don't know the date because you're still alive. But every year you live, you pass December eighth without knowing it's the anniversary of your death. You see what I mean?"
"Yeah." Novalee was wide-eyed, stunned by this startling new idea. "I'd never thought of that."
"No, not a lot of folks do. But listen. You're gonna die. But your name's not. No. It's gonna be written in somebody's Bible, printed in some newspaper. Cut into your gravestone. See, that name has a history. . . . And that history is gonna be there when you're not."
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Your Name's Not Gonna Die
This is an excerpt from Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts. It's a conversation between Novalee, 17 years old and pregnant, and Moses Whitecotton, an older gentleman. Moses begins.