It is essentially two years to the day since I received the phone call from Danielle Price informing me that Elaine Mahon, one of the most influential people in my life, went to the health science. Elaine was admitted literally the day after I left St. John’s due to restrictions on time and transport. I thought we were past the worst, there was nothing left to fear when it came to her failing health because she had beat the cancer.
She went into the hospital until her dying day on May 31st.
The month of May is forever stained on my psyche. My life is so different now, so much better than it has been in many years, but May continues to shake my foundation. It’s a memory of poor decisions and mortal regrets.
Last night after dropping my girlfriend off at her home I went for a drive. I found myself driving as far as Blackmarsh Road, before I knew it I found myself parked in the middle of the Rockcliffe Heights Apartments parking lot. She eventually moved through a couple of places between her time spent at that apartment complex and the day she died, but Rockcliffe will forever stand in my memory as her home.
Rockcliffe is where we kissed, bonded, and grew close. Rockcliffe is where the majority of my dearest memories took place, not only were they mostly joyful times but she was also healthy and so full of life.
So I’m sitting in the parking lot and looking around when a thought comes to me.
Time is an unrelenting and cruel mistress to deal with. The vehicles littered the parking lot and although this place stands a very significant piece of my history due to its relationship with a very important person in my life… right now she means nothing to it.
Time is cold. It has been over two years since Elaine had called Rockcliffe home. Her neighbors have either moved on, or maybe forgot about her… her apartment is without question occupied by someone else who has no idea the abundance of sentimental value I would hold in that tiny apartment.
Looking at the cars and realizing that most likely none of these people have had anything to do with Elaine, reminded me that no matter what impact you make, time will always get you in the end. Eventually everything is forgotten as it is swallowed up by the constant waves of passing time.
What’s the point of it all then? It’s difficult to fathom that any decision you make in the here and now will be relevant when you consider that no matter what you do if you give enough time no one will remember. No one will know.
It brings me back to the ending of Gangs of New York, as much as it pains me to reference a Leo DiCaprio movie, (I’m not quite a fan). Amsterdam and Bill the Butcher fight out their differences in a rumble that is basically pointless. The move spend 2 and half hours building up this conflict as being some epic contest of supremacy with the ramifications to be felt for generations to come. What happens though?
Riots break out due to the strife caused by the civil war draft and even the military gets called in. A few of the members of Amsterdam’s gang are ended up killed by racist rioters and military law men… the battle keeps going though. In the wake of events that are much larger than themselves. In the end Amsterdam kills Bill the Butcher and buries him next to Priest Vallon(Amsterdam’s father).
“In the end, they put candles on the bodies so’s their friends, if they had any, could know them in the dark. The city did this free of charge. Shang, Jimmy Spoils, Hell-cat, McGloin, and more. Friend or foe, didn’t make no difference now. It was four days and nights before the worst of the mob was finally put down. We never knew how many New Yorkers died that week before the city was finally delivered. My father told me we was all born of blood and tribulation, and so then too was our great city. But for those of us what lived and died in them furious days, it was like everything we knew was mildly swept away. And no matter what they did to build this city up again… for the rest of time… it would be like no one even knew we was ever here.” Amsterdam Vallon, Gangs of New York.
It’s a commentary about the passing of time and the relevance of the present. This movie spends most of its running time making you believe the stakes that the protagonist is fighting for are incredibly high and the end result of his failure or success will be felt for a long time to come afterwards but no. In the end the battle doesn’t matter, the conflict didn’t matter, because years into the future to modern-day New York there is no one who is remembering Bill the Butcher, or Priest Vallon.
The ending takes place at the grave of Bill, then as we hear DiCaprio’s monologue above, he is helped off camera just as we hear him say “it would be like no one even knew we was ever here.” The shot shows New York in the wake of the riots with a sped up shot that fast forwards to present day (well present day for the movie)
Some of you are probably waiting for the point of this post, for you I apologize but there is none. I just got myself fascinated with how irrelevant everything when you put it in context with the passage of time. I’m still trying to decide if that means that nothing is worth doing due to said irrelevance, OR does it simply mean that we need to live in the here and now and try to touch as many lives as possible in our short time here.