The strongest impulse to make reality change into some sort of "choose your own adventure" has settled into the core of my spine. I spend much of my slack-jawed time during the day whistling long-lost tunes, and realizing that there aren't any chances to do it over. And realize how much of the road has gone under my feet with nary a glance off to the side. My own dumb instincts making me vulnerable to the least likely emotions, I became so self-centered that you, and everyone around you, ceased to exist.
My grandmother's youngest sister, a woman three years older than my father, was diagnosed with lung cancer a year and a half ago. Couple of weeks ago, she finds out that it is back, in both lungs, and this time it's personal. She's refusing chemo, or any sort of treatment really. And I can't think of a worse way to go, drowning in your own body.
My father is an only child. When my grandfather was in korea, my father and grandmother lived with her family. He thought of his aunt Linda as his sister, since they were so close in age, and they were as alike as two people can be. She helped him get through his years in the backwoods of Virginia, years without a father and with a mother who watched, hawk-like, over her only child.
My father has been on a mortality trip for years and years, but only recently quit smoking cigars. If smoking gives certain bloodlines cancer, well....
So my head is stuck well in to this tar pit nonsense as my family fights to keep their spirit intact while yet another of the old ladies who made our lives possible drops from cancer. And I can't get completely away from the idea that maybe I should be there, with my grandmother, as she loses another sister to this invisible assassin.
I paraphrase one of my favorite writers, then: the world is hardest of grandmothers. My grandfather is an old war horse, a teamster, a gigantic man with nazi shrapnel in his body. His time's been, and he's smiling with the Lord during his remaining days. But my grandmother, who has often been abandoned by her husband while he dragged off to fight wars or haul cargo, she has always had her family.
And now they're slipping away, brutally.
And here I am. One little pinpoint in this office three floors above wet winter streets, the slow hiss of the HVAC driving the tone of my relentless day. Data don't rest, and those of us who herd it from point A to sections A B and C cannot possibly take a moment for humanity to catch up. So I divorce my Self from my hands and let the world slip by while I ponder, singularly.
This is my way of dealing with a world that mechanically goes on about it's business. People die. Some of them, we love dearly. Some of them, they die in ways too lonely and awful to mention.
They leave the world behind, doing the clockwork thing, counting the ticks till we join the soil ourselves.
Not that it is pointless. Or hopeless. It is, though, consuming.
And it is OK, I guess, to have been so self-consumed that I hardly remembered to drop you a line. Neglect is a sign of friendship; we long for the people we should have in our lives. Problems never neglect us. Only those things we love.
I hope this finds you well. I am well, despite the tone and finality of my language. We can't ever take one thread to mean the whole tapestry.
|< Last Christmas, I gave you some stuff | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >|