death


Random quote of the day:

“The paradoxical effect of losing a loved one is that their sudden absence can become a feverish comment on that which remains. That which remains rises in time from the dark with a burning physicality—a luminous super-presence—as we acquaint ourselves with this new and different world. In loss things—both animate and inanimate—take on an added intensity and meaning.”

—Nick Cave, The Red Hand Files, July 2020

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Death is the only God who loves not gifts and cares not for sacrifices or libation, who has no altars and receives no hymns.”

—Aeschylus, Niobe

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I was reading the opening page of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and I thought, “Wow, that’s uncomfortably familiar.”

Late last week before last I tripped over a case of cat food on the floor (Oh the irony! The Instacart shopper got the wrong one, stuff fussy Ginger won’t eat) and had a bad fall. I crashed through the kitchen door, into the fridge, and landed on my back on the floor. I was SO lucky not to have gotten more than bumps and bruises and humiliation. But I spent several days convalescent and contemplating the folly—of my household arrangements, among other things. Since recovering I’ve been trying to get things off the floor and moving with extreme caution. Not for the first time I’ve thought that I do not envy those who have to clean out this place when I croak.

This dovetailed with an article I read yesterday about artist Francis Hines whose life work was thrown into a dumpster when he died.

(Happy ending: someone came along ahead of the trash collectors who recognized it and saved it.)

Our posterity as artists is often left to those who don’t appreciate the urge to do art and think it’s all just a bunch of junk. And maybe it is. But it’s also difficult, when you reach a certain age, to realize your life’s work may end up in a dumpster. I’d like to think my life meant more than a waste of oxygen and resources. I know I’m not alone in this feeling but it is one of the hazards of having no family.

I don’t think “legacy keepers” is ever a valid excuse to have children (and no guarantee that will work out for you, anyway). The only valid reason to have children is because you really want them, and I never did. I like kids quite a lot, just never thought I had the talent for raising them. And those are my Mother’s Day thoughts. Gods bless all those who had the desire for kids and the talent and drive and patience and willingness to not only raise them but center their lives around making them good human beings. O Heroic Ones, I salute you!

Monday’s quote of the day, the one with Hades, was illustrated on Friday afternoon, as I always do them on the weekday before I intend to post them. About forty-five minutes after I finished it, while I was working on one of my novels, there was a tremendous explosion outside, quite nearby. Huge sound, unbelievably loud, with a wrenching metal component and a brilliant flash of light. The electricity went out. Before I had time to think more than “What?” there was another explosion, just as loud and brilliant. I had just another a moment to begin to be terrified when there was a third loud and flashing explosion.

I was really terrified by then, but thankfully there were no more explosions. I sat in a daze, wondering what had happened. Had a plane gone down? If so it must be lying in the street outside. Was it a bomb or a natural gas explosion? If so, again, it had to be very close by. I thought I’d better go outside and see if my house was okay or if I should evacuate, but when I looked outside, everything appeared normal. My neighbor across the street was out in his front yard looking south, however. My view of things to the south was blocked by two walls and some trees so I wandered outside and yelled across the street, “Do you know what that was?”

“It looks like one of the underground electrical vaults about four houses down exploded. I can see smoke pouring out of it.”

My next door neighbor to the south came out and said, “Be careful. There’s a live electrical cable lying in the street.”

By this time we could hear sirens and I thought the best place for me would be back in the house, out of the way, but I was badly shaken. My electricity came back in fairly short order. We have a lot of backup systems in this neighborhood because we’re on the same power grid as LAX. Thankfully, none of the houses were damaged, no people harmed, just the street. But I kept thinking about how we sit atop all of this infrastructure and think nothing of it when at any moment the apocalypse beneath our feet can happen.

And then I thought of that Hades quote and how one shouldn’t mess with him or the domains named for him. It had gotten kind of funny by the time I got around to that thought and I’d calmed down somewhat.

The power company was outside with jackhammers until just before 1 a.m. and massive trucks blocked the street almost all of Saturday. But everything was neatened up. Time to slip back into complacency.

Except that I got a phone call that same Saturday afternoon. A friend is dying of cancer, has only weeks to live, and K*iser Permanente dropped the ball numerous times, delaying diagnosis until it was too late. This is not the first time I have heard of K*iser doing that. They are great for preventative medicine but if you get really sick sometimes their follow through is lacking or disorganized. I am trying not to let my fury crowd out the attempt to find acceptance, but it’s hard. I remind myself it’s not about me, it’s about my friend, and she doesn’t need my anger to add to her own. I remind myself to honor my own feelings, but it’s too early for that, so instead I swallow them, down into the netherworld, deep dark Hades.

April has been an especially cruel month. As I posted here, I got two death notifications on April 2.

All of these are also apocalypses. They happen every day all around the world to millions of people and their families. We sit atop these imminent explosions and must, for our sanity, pretend they aren’t waiting. But when one of them goes off close to home it’s yet another reminder that time is not our friend and we must get busy with the work we must get done.

A week ago from last Saturday (March 28) I had a really comforting dream of my mother. I dreamed she brought me a tray of cupcakes while I was still in bed. I got out of bed and we were having a nice chat and I was telling her about a craft project I’m doing where I’m repairing an old afghan. I told her, “You know, the one you used all the time when you were—” I was just about to say “dying of kidney failure” when I realized (in the dream) that she was dead. I put my arms around her and hugged her tight and said, “Oh Mama, it’s so good to see you.”

I woke with such a profound sense of comfort and presence. I thought she’d come by to comfort me because I was so worried over a friend who’s really sick—and that may be part of it. But I didn’t realize that the day before two women who were a seminal part of my childhood, and also very important to her, Vera and Irene, had died within a day of each other. I got the notification for their death this past Saturday (April 2). Neither family knew each other and so it’s just a fluke I got the notification the same day.

To say it knocked me flat is an understatement. I wrote both condolence letters today because I didn’t want them to get lost in the shuffle and procrastination is not my friend. Platitudes and vague expressions of sympathy would not do for these ladies. I needed to let their families know they truly mattered, but you know, condolence letters are tricky. I’ve received several in my time and know the ones that had the most impact delivered more than platitudes but kept it relatively simple because when you’re grieving you don’t need or want a complicated or goopy message. Simple and heartfelt is best. Making it about them, the dead, not about you.

Which isn’t always easy, but I think I did a decent job. And at least it gave me a chance to purge some of the emotions I’ve been holding back. I hope their families can receive them in the spirit they were written, but that’s out of my hands and beside the point. They have their grief to deal with—and that’s a thousand times more than mine and will take time.

All last week I had a potent feeling of spirits in the house. Ginger was acting scary, too, staring wild-eyed into corners of the room, cringing. Because of the rough time she had before coming here, she does tend to be jumpy at sudden noises or movements, but there was none of that going on at the time, and it seemed…off. Excessive. So more than once I found myself saying to the room, “Ancestors are welcome, spirits of place are welcome, but if you’re some transient spirit here and scaring my kitty, you can get the hell out.” Curiously, Ginger relaxed after that.

Since Saturday I’ve wondered if it was Vera and Irene I was telling to get the hell out. I hope not. They are always welcome and Ginger will just have to live with it. After all, those two monumental women were ancestors of mine, too, even if only one of them was related by blood.

Death knocked twice on the door today
and when I opened up, smiled
and said, “This is a courtesy call.
Your time will come but not today.
Today I’m here to remind you
that time is not your friend,
that what you must get done, do,
that busyness is often just a mask
for fear, that no matter how hard
you try not to hear, the bell tolls,
and if you love, let them know.
See you around.”

I shut the door in Death’s face,
turned the music loud,
and danced around the living room,
as if I had nothing better to do.

—PJ Thompson

Random quote of the day:

“A life cannot be rushed, cannot be worked on a schedule as so many people want it to be. We must accept what comes to us at a given time, and not ask for more. But life is endless, so we never die; we were never really born. We just pass through different phases. There is no end. Humans have many dimensions. But time is not as we see time, but rather is lessons that are learned.”

—Brian L. Weiss, Many Lives, Many Masters

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“It is as if the world we perceive through our senses, that whole gorgeous and terrible pageant, were the breath-thin surface of a bubble, and everything else, inside and outside, is pure radiance. Both suffering and joy come then like a brief reflection, and death like a pin.”

—Stephen Mitchell, Introduction to The Book of Job

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke, letter to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouy, 1923

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“How powerful the fear of death is. People go to such great lengths to avoid the fear: mid-life crises, affairs with younger people, cosmetic surgeries, exercise obsessions, accumulating material possessions, procreating to carry on a name, striving to be more and more youthful, and so on. We are frightfully concerned with our own deaths sometimes so much so that we forget the real purpose of our lives.”

—Brian L. Weiss, M.D., Many Lives, Many Masters

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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