Frankie Says Relax

There is a photo of my older brother on the shelf behind my desk. It has been taken in a hospital. There is a handle hanging by the side of his head so that he can pull himself up. My brother is standing (or is he sitting on the bed?). He is smiling because he is holding his newborn daughter in his arms.

The father has a proud gaze, which I recognize in myself. The small baby lies safely tucked under his right armpit, meticulously wrapped in a white terrycloth hand towel. I can make out some of the caption on the black T-shirt my brother is wearing: Frankie Says Relax. 

Exactly why Frankie from the pop group Frankie Goes to Hollywood said ‘relax,’ I don’t know. But I have often thought about whether the message was more one of resignation or resistance. I have looked at the message on this shirt as if it was some kind of meaningful sign, no doubt because my brother died barely two years after this photo was taken.

A writer must say ‘yes’ to life, to all forms of life. The writer is loyal to that which happens, because the moment is important. Each moment is filled with life.

Read the rest of the essay here

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