Thursday, August 27, 2009

Closure sucks

I think I learned recently what it means to have closure.

I came across information recently about someone I knew long ago. I had heard that he was killed while in the military. I thought he may have died in Viet Nam, since that was the last place I knew him to be. I had searched for his name on the Viet Nam wall, but didn't find it. I have wondered all these years -- more than 30 years. I had secretly hoped it just wasn't true.

But I recently learned that my friend died in a small town in Texas. I am curious about the circumstances of his death. And I'd really like to know more.

I asked Google a bunch of questions, looking for anything I could find that would offer information. I wasn't interested in the pay-big-bucks-to-find-the-dirt-on-anybody sites. I quickly dismissed those.

When that didn't turn up anything I looked for an obituary. Plenty of sites make claims that they are free, but are really just another scam in my view. The sites, generally used for genealogy research, advertise free obituaries, but they aren't free at all. They advertised a free trial if you sign up -- WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD.

I know that gimmick. They tell you that after the trial period is over you can opt out by simply canceling. Trouble is you practically have to move mountains to get out of the commitment. Once they have their hooks into you, they never want to let go. I learned my lesson and will never do that again.

Perhaps if they are serious about offering a free trial period, just to let you familiarize yourself with what they have to offer, why don't they do what internet gamers do? Gamers provide free play for a number of minutes, usually 60. When the allotted time is up, you either sign up or you're done.

I literally spent hours one evening looking for information. I searched for an obituary. I found the newspaper in Texas that initially ran the obituary. It cost nothing to see a death notice dating back to 2000, but to see one older than that would cost almost $3. I was still reluctant to whip out a credit card just to read public information that should be free in the first place. I'm not trying to be unreasonable. The obit was online, according to a database that listed it. I just couldn't see it without paying for it.

Computer research is like a computer game -- of seek and find.

I found the name of the cemetery where my friend was buried, near his home town. Just seeing his name connected with a cemetery gave me pause. But when I clicked on his name, I wasn't really prepared for my own reaction. That was when it hit me.

I saw a photograph of the marker on the place where his body was buried in 1975. This was no longer a game. It was reality and it was sad.

Seeing that bronze plaque with his name and a date for his birth and for his death was disconcerting. I never cried for him before, until now. It hadn't been real until now.

This photograph was confirmation that someone I once cared about was dead at the age of only 24. I will always wonder about the circumstances, but the realization was enough. I now have closure. What that means to me is that all hope is gone. Closure is an ugly reality that can no longer be wished away. Closure sucks!