How to grieve.

My mother thought that inner strength, moral strength, moral superiority, were best dealt with through silence. It was the best thing to do to appear unaffected by the traumatic event one was just passing through or had recently endured.

After Aunt Sudie’s death, a few days before which my mother could be heard from behind the closed door of her bedroom shouting “But why me?”, my mother moved through the house slow and dazed in manner, sustained by receiving and answering condolence letters and phone calls and planning the funeral with my uncle and cousins. A few more weeks were spent by her in the same daze, more silent than usual, no shouting behind the bedroom door about how horribly unfair it was to have taken a much loved, vibrant woman from her sisters and husband and children and through such a horrible disease as cancer. She contained her grief, at least when I was home after school and before I left in the mornings.

I felt sorry for her, and sad that my aunt was dead. But Mom displayed no grief, and I was too young at only 14 to understand the processes of grief. I resumed my usual activities, the homework, the slumber parties and overnights, the television and the reading. I wanted to go to the mall with Missy. I wanted not to have to remember to take my gym uniform home occasionally to be washed.

My noise and activity must have grated on her nerves, but she went through the daily schedule of drinks with Dad after he came home, dinner, sleep, waking, showing nothing of her pain. I got the idea that it didn’t exist. I got a bit peeved at her, disappointed that she was not affected by the death of her twin. She must be shallow. True, it’s awful to be around someone who collapses in tears every day for months and years after a death, but shouldn’t one look a little sad, from time to time? Look like something happened, and that you know it but are trying to get along as best as you can anyhow?

Nothing. Needlepoint and bourbon with my father every afternoon, dinner — meat and two veg — homework, sleep, wake. What was wrong with her, that she couldn’t feel even the most basic of emotions?

She was noble, I see now, but only in a way that was visible to her. Maybe that was the point. It doesn’t do to be human. We must be better.

More days away from death. Further thoughts on Christopher #Hitchens and others.

What Would Jesus Read? Christopher Hitchens.

Image by Capt. Joe Kickass via Flickr

Yes, still somber in the wake of the death of Christopher Hitchens this past Thursday. Since I’ve had cancer, I inevitably focus upon any other person diagnosed with the same type of cancer that I had, esophageal cancer. Now in this past week the two people that I knew of who were currently dealing with that particular type of cancer have died, one on Wednesday and Christopher Hitchens on Thursday.

[I might add in here that I myself had my regular quarterly check-up at my oncologist's a week ago and everything is still fine and I don't even have to have a scan  this year.]

All I can think of to do, and all I could think of to do before these two deaths, is to keep trying to take more days away from death than I was going to get otherwise.

I am also sitting here reading god is not great and feeling oddly soothed by it.



Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

— Steve Jobs

via Quote Details: Steve Jobs: Almost everything–all external expectations,… – The Quotations Page.

Yesterday's anniversaries

I had planned to write some yesterday, since it was my mother’s 85th birthday, as well as the fifth anniversary of her death. I’d like to have written something profound, but I think I said all of that at the time of her death.

I’ve thought about her a lot since then, as I suppose most everyone would. The past couple of years, however, have been a new kind of sorting out of my thoughts.

To put it as kindly as I can, we did not get along. Not until a few months before her death, long before she was sick with the episode of lupus that eventually caused her death, did we begin to unwind in front of each other, to simply talk about every day things.

These last couple of years, residual anger has almost completely receded, simply because so much time has passed. I can look at events that happened, and see with no bias what was going on. I see why she did what she did, and lived as she did. And I see that I couldn’t have acted any differently.

That seems like such a long-winded reason for not having written about this, that it turns out that I have written about this. Odd, how that happens.

Words of One Syllable Dept. – Death Row Inmate Sues, Claiming He’s Too Fat for Execution – Local News | News Articles | National News | US News

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A death row inmate scheduled for execution in October says he’s so fat that Ohio executioners would have trouble finding his veins and that his weight could diminish the effectiveness of one of the lethal injection drugs.

Lawyers for Richard Cooey argue in a federal lawsuit that Cooey had poor veins when he faced execution five years ago and that the problem has been worsened by weight gain.

I love living in Ohio.

from last night

Chautauqua, NY

There were 2 movies watched tonight, but I was there for only 1 and a half. I got there halfway through the first movie, Death at a Funeral. The second was Juno. That was a good one. I wish I’d seen the whole of the first one. Movies were shown after dinner. We had BBQ and cole slaw.

I am still a bit overwhelmed by thinking that it was a whole year ago that I was here last, and that I was very weak from the operation for cancer still. I am proud of being stronger. I still wonder what the answers are to all the questions that cancer brought with it, like “What’s the meaning of life?” and “What is Death and should I be afraid of it?” I don’t know if I’m a bit wiser than I was before my diagnosis. Oh, forget it, I am wiser than I was. But not in the way that I thought I would be.

The final Whatever

My blog-friend LeRoy isn’t seeing too many ways out of his current predicament. ‘What can I say to all my friends? How can I say goodbye?’
A part of my brain once came close to Death, as close as I’ll come for now. And all I have left from this encounter is the dubious wisdom of knowing that it’s still there, death is, right where I left it last.

Yet more returns

I have not been writing just because I was jet-lagged, but because, since our day tour of Bruges, Belgium. Now I have to say that Bruges is a wonderful little town that could benefit from some sunshine and lack of rain.

However, I froze half to death. If we had not ducked into a souvenir shop for a sweatshirt, I wouldn’t have made it through the end of the tour. Since then, I have never been quite well: a slowly drawn-out process involving fevers and coughs and muscles torn from coughing so hard.

Now I start to feel human, so now I can get back to my usual antics.