Friday, April 16, 2010


As Mark Twain once remarked, the rumors of my demise have greatly exaggerated. I'm not dead yet, fellas.

But others are now. Others who have meant more to more people than I could ever hope to.

Soon after New Year's, my grandmother finally gave up the ghost [or, to make it sound less familiar, yielded up the spirit, though it does live on in us]. My other grandmothers died many years ago [in 1959, 1974 and 1981, and yes, that makes four of them], and her life for all the years since has been nothing shy of a miracle.

Anyone who is closing in on 100 has a right to die whenever she damn well pleases, but the fact is that we had been preparing ourselves for the possibility of her death for so long that we no longer really believed it could happen. And then it did. Almost three months ago.

Many, many things have changed since then, some at a dizzying speed, and not just the fact that she's not here to watch over me while I slave away at the project that keeps on giving.

Things long held back as the private things in her life are now laid out in the open; people, especially those she put up with out of politeness, people I could never stand and still can't now, feel free to talk about her as if they had known her better than anyone. Or, more galling than that, they fix me with an "understanding" look and tell me that my loss must be dreadful. It is, but to tell the truth, there are people who don't know what truth is, even when they utter it. And there are people from whom you don't want to hear the truth unless they do recognize it when they see it. What is it about those people, and why do they always have to wade in and weigh in with their grating goodwill? The people who really have something to offer are the people who listen first.

Here's a truth for you: Truth is never a platitude dressed up in a veneer of apparent goodwill. It's harder and hurts more than that. I don't think it's just me and my experience; I think there's some kind of law at work there...

But life does go on.

Deadlines do not move around just because the life of the someone tied to a project has fallen apart. So I get up, I drive back and forth, and live on the goodwill of the Goat, who has risen to the occasion in the most commendable way [wine, cheese, food, bed--see below]. It is strange, when my world has been shaken to its foundations again, that the outward appearance of my life has not changed much in the last four months at all--I am still driving up and down, spending two nights on my own, a night or two with the Goat, and then starting all over again by driving up again at 6 on Monday morning. But it's beginning to get old.

The Powers That Be seem to have realized that there was no way we could make our deadline with just me beavering away at it, so I now have a staff of five part-timers moving in and out of the office all week long, which makes it harder for me to get anything done, but does move things along at a better clip. And makes life for me less lonely. I meet new people, some of whom--even if they have no power to do me any good--really like what I've done. The Powers, though clearly not to be numbered among those new people, did decide to come up with the extra cash to finish the project RIGHT, rather than pulling the plug on the whole thing in April.

Other things have happened as well: I've been to Vacationland with the Goat and spent the entire three weeks as sick as a dog. As a result, however, I had an unimpeachable excuse to lie around once I got a little better, and inhale the sequels to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I don't know what your tolerance for trash is, but The Girl is Great Trash. Really the best. And the sequels are, I think, maybe even better. Like Toy Story and Toy Story 2. And now I'm back, trying desperately to get things polished off by Thanksgiving. What I am going to live on and how I am going to find health insurance after that is anyone's guess, but it will bring a two-year stint to an end, and that's probably a good thing. It all feels different now...

By then the Goat will have had a few months to get used to retirement, if he does indeed retire as he keeps threatening to do, and maybe we can do something really frivolous like buying a house big enough for all our, ahem, "stuff."

You know what I mean... or at least I think you do...

I have spent so much of the last four years watching the world as I knew it fall apart, only to see it take on a new and unexpected form. It's happened over and over again. Death brings many things in its wake, including new beginnings, if you can see them when they come. So far, all I can see is that most things are suddenly different. But it's pretty clear that death doesn't get the last word.

So we tiptoe along while Easter comes pressing in on us, and wait to see what it brings. Maybe that's why Easter itself passed me by this year--I'm not in a place where any regular calendar makes much sense to me. I just have to take the truth as it comes...

Hang in there, all of you. I'm still here, I'm just up to my ass in alligators for the next six or seven months, and will not be posting much. But maybe you noticed that...


  1. SO very glad to hear from you! Those rumors were flying. Glad you're still with us.

  2. It's great to hear from you, even though I don't understand half of what I read.

    New Beginnings ... is there a great hymn based on that?

  3. It is very nice to hear from you. It's been a while, I know, but I've been going through my own valley of the shadow. It was very shadowy. And I've come out, not quite to airy uplands, but at least into the light.

    Glad you're still with us.

  4. Glad you're still around!