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The Sunset of What We Are

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The Sunset of What We Are

Take Me to the Moon 5.21

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“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”
Fernando Pessoa

At dawn, as Alexander stood again at Maddi’s new grave, he realized the family needed to go ahead with the planned camping trip.   They needed to live the possible to the fullest extent, while they could.  This may be the last weekend the family had, while he and Delaney were still able to go camping.

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It had been a long night, after returning from the party at the Greats’ house, where Maddi had been taken by Grim.  Felicity had stood, immobilized, on the sidewalk for a while.

“Why did Grandma Maddi have to die?” she asked her mom, Zoe.

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After returning home, the shock seemed to wear off, and Delaney was left with the real sadness of having witnessed Maddi’s death.

“Why did we bring her back, only to cause everyone such sadness?” she asked Alexander.

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But Alexander didn’t have comforting words.

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“Do you regret that I brought them back?” he asked Maddi.

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She got up without a word.

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Alexander sat with the sadness.  It was exhausting and he found that he couldn’t think, couldn’t feel anything but sadness.

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Delaney, always a person of action, decided to check the MC Command Center settings, and make sure that the settings were still right to Bypass Family Ghosts if the game did any culling.

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“I’ve done what I can,” she thought.

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Zoe, shaken by her inability to answer her child’s questions, called the Sadness Hotline.

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“How do I talk with my daughter about death?” she asked. “She’s so young, and I don’t know what to say.”

Elise, not known for wearing her feelings on her sleeve, uncharacteristically chose to blog about her sadness.

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“I didn’t even say anything back, as Grim gave dad a tongue-lashing.  Where was my wit, my sharpness?”

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“But really, I knew there was no retort.  That’s what’s eating at me.  There is no one to blame, no way around this hurt.”

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And then Elise looked right at me, her simmer, and we shared a moment of being able to do nothing but grimly laugh at the futility of trying to avoid pain, in both our existences.

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After that Elise felt better for a while, and had a little break from the sadness that had been blanketing everything.

Felicity had not even bothered to change out of her uncharacteristically odd, mismatched choice of party clothes, and had headed to the mirror to give herself a pep talk.

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“It’s ok. Everyone dies. Grandma Maddi’s grave is safe with us now.”

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As momma says in her yoga, take a deep breath.

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“Who am I kidding. It still feels awful.”

While Fiona wondered if there was any way she could have stopped Grim.

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And decided to play the piano for a while.  In spite of the fact, or maybe because, she’d known Grandma Maddi best, her sad feelings went away before everyone else’s.

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She saw Grandma Delaney in the pool and went out to try to cheer her up a little.

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Alexander woke up and thought he was coming down with something, but decided to wait before ordering medicine.  After all, last time he had taken medicine, he’d overdosed, and he didn’t want that feeling again.

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He went out to Maddi’s grave.  He wondered if he had caused her to suffer more, by bringing her back.

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The next morning, he returned to the grave.

His sadness at witnessing the death, and the intensity of his sorrow at losing Maddi, had passed, but still he mourned.  He felt confident now, in his decision, and wanted to talk to everyone, especially Elise, about why he challenged the game engine and reality as they knew it.  The camping trip would be a crucial opportunity to pass on his legacy of valuing family ties above all else.

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Gameplay Notes:

  • I was surprised that Fiona’s sadness that Maddi died lasted less time than everyone else’s, but I thought she would feel closer to her Triple Great by letting her goofball side shine more.
  • Alexander went out to the grave after his sadness from “Witnessed Death” and “Missing a Loved One,” expired, and he got a confident feeling from mourning.  He wanted to tell an unbelievable story, and wanted to chat with Elise.

8 Comments so far:

  1. Echo Weaver says:

    This was so sad! I loved the way you described the different ways the family reacted to Maddie’s death. Also the way you bookended the post with Alexander’s visits to the grave.

  2. Thanks for reading… and commenting. They each grieved in their own way.

  3. Carla says:

    Oh, poor Alexander! I hadn’t thought of how this would affect him specifically, seeing he was the one who brought all the Teslas back again. He shouldn’t blame himself but I can see why he’s feeling responsible anyway.

    Fiona and Felicity are both so sweet. I’m going to love watching them as they grow up.

  4. cathytea says:

    This was so beautiful and so profound. I love the opening quotation.

    I have noticed, too, that each Sim mourns individually. And I love the automourn. That action has moved, for me, from being a strange annoyance back with my gen 2 and 3, to now being my most revered action. It helps our Sims process.

    I believe that some of our Sims understand their mortality–in game sense. They know what it means to meet the Reaper. And they know what it means when their loved ones and ancestors cross into transparency. This is something to be revered–and honored and respected.

    I also want to comment on your screenshots in this chapter. Love the one with the back of the sunflower when Alex is grieving. And each one is so beautiful–so well composed and peaceful.

    Also, Delaney’s eyes look so puffy and red from crying in the first screenshot. I’ve only just begun to notice that grieving Sims can have tear-puffy eyes.

    Also, Elise is game-aware and camera-aware and… player-aware, huh? Neat!

    • Your comment means so much to me– you are the one that helped me appreciate the automourning–I used to always cancel it. I notice they do it more consciously than in the depths of grief itself. They seem to do it most after the sad emotions are replaced with day-to-day ones. When we grieve, the initial overwhelming sadness is very different from the point when we resume day to day life, but the memories and the missing continue to come, sometimes when we don’t expect it.

      I felt like Elise was looking right at the camera; there’s nothing on the wall there and that desk is against the outer wall. She and Ewan have seemed to break that fourth wall more than any of my prior Sims 4 sims.

  5. maisie says:

    Another difficult post. Elise looking at you from her computer, ah, that was a moment for sure. I was worried Alexander would die of sadness (can they?). And a hotline for sadness… that’s just a great detail. I’m glad that Fiona and Alexander are feeling better and the heaviest part of the mourning has subsided for them. It was nice to see Maddi again, even if it was just for a brief period of time. She left an impact with the next generation, and it will be passed on for many more thereafter with stories from Fiona and Felicity.

    • Your words are very encouraging- I hadn’t really thought how much impact Maddi would have, through Fiona and Felicity.

      I wasn’t actually sure if they can die of sadness so I checked. They can’t die of sadness; only of mortification, enragement, or hysteria (playfulness?!) But yes, my sims get a lot of whims to call the Sadness Hotline when they’re sad.

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