“They can’t breathe on their own, so they absorb the essence of the world breathing around them.”
“If you give them just a tiny bit of yourself…”
-Raina Telgemeier, Ghosts
In Telgemeiner’s book, Ghosts can’t breathe for themselves. But they remember, and she describes Dia de los Muertos when many of them visit. By giving just a tiny bit of themselves—a puff of breath, a blown kiss—the living share life so everyone together can share in the celebration.
If you give them just a tiny bit of yourself…
It’s a different “yourself” then I’ve usually heard described. The story trope I’ve heard more often might go like this: so-and-so lost a bit of himself somewhere. A curse, a deal he made, some magic accident. And the loss eats away at him, an empty splinter where a bit of his soul should be. Wherever he goes, however happy he seems, he’s always a little lost and a little hungry. Bit by bit he turns, his imperfection growing, until…
Sheesh. I like Telgemeiner’s story more. I like her idea of “self.” It’s easy to hold onto things, to hopes and possibilities, to images of how I expected life to go, to my me-ness, as though there’s only so much (and barely enough) and I have to save it up. What if, instead, yourself is a little windstorm. A bit of breathing that will stop one day, sure, but along the way could lift up kites in blowing, could share songs in breaths that won’t come back and don’t need to. What if you give away a tiny bit of yourself and you’re still you, the loving, sharing you, in a world surrounded by Ghosts who felt the breath you shared. They’re dancing, and inviting you to join.