Vigil, with Tarantino
by Claire LePage
I watched Kill Bill while waiting for my grandpa to die last week. I wanted to watch A River Runs Through It, but we didn’t have it and neither did Redbox. It was surreal watching Uma Thurman roundhouse kick some woman’s face while thinking about Grandpa’s breaths getting slower. Mom called me during the scene where the Bride throws a knife into the black lady’s chest.
Grandpa was slipping in and out of consciousness, she said. He kept repeating the last two lines of the twenty-third psalm.
I started crying. So did Christopher, when I told him about it after I hung up.
“’Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me’?”
“’All the days of my life,’ yeah,” I said.
We decided to leave Kill Bill alone for a while. We made tea.
I looked out the window while Christopher put the kettle on. It is early fall, and the garden was exploding with marigolds and sunflowers and amaranth. The tomatoes were almost ready to harvest. It was raining. I thought about Gilead: “Water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash.” John Ames knew what he was talking about.
After about half an hour, we decided to go back and finish Kill Bill. Watching the movie, I totally forgot everything else that was going on. I just wanted the Bride to decapitate every single Japanese thug she possibly could and tell the rest to leave their limbs on the floor. That scene where she’s fighting the mobster woman out in the snow is stunningly beautiful. The deaths in the movie are separate from death in real life—they’re visually striking. No mourning.
After it was over, I sat on the bed and felt the hardness drain out of me. To watch a Tarantino movie, I always have to just accept the premise of the story. The Bride has been wronged; the Bride wants to kill everyone; therefore I will root for the Bride killing everyone. I will believe that the beauty of red blood on white snow is more important than the death of a character. Kill them all, Uma. I was glad to move into that place, and I was glad to leave it.
Grandpa died the next night at 7. He waited until he was alone with Grandma to leave. It was a relief to get that phone call, too—the last few years had been hard for him, and I was glad he was free of that body. There was no hardness of any sort at the funeral service. It was all tears and the strange joy that comes with a good death. It rained that day, too.
Claire LePage is a senior English major at Whitworth University