Friday, September 14, 2012


I've been thinking a lot lately about the transitory nature of the time we get here on this ball of rock. 

I spend a great deal of my time these days among people who are elderly, ill, or just fragile, and have seen others decline into a shaky state of frailty in just the short time I've known them, sliding from hale and healthy into wraithlike shadows of themselves almost in an eyeblink. 

I've also just fledged a child out into the perilous realm of adulthood, watching her undergo all the rites of passage I was just experiencing yesterday. I swear it was just yesterday.

It's humbling and frustrating and melancholy and awakens in me an envy I barely understand. I'm humbled at the weight of time and infirmity and the forced acknowledgement of my own and others' mortality. I am frustrated that I have wasted - to my mind - a huge portion of the finite amount of time I get here on dithering and fiddling and fidgeting and have never gotten any further than here, than this. I am desperate and melancholy as I watch all these passages around me, unable to stop the inexorable slippery drift toward change, toward different, toward gone.

And I envy that girl, that beautiful, headstrong, brave girl who has just opened her eyes on a new life. I envy her freedom, her unmarked slate. I envy her choices. I envy all of her as-yet-unrealized dreams, even as I beam in the knowledge that it was partly my scratching, clawing fight against the smothering weights of poverty and entropy and depression that got her to a place from which she could leap. I am gleefully aware that I wouldn't let her quit, that I refused to let her drop a single dream, that I flatly rejected the idea that because she came from poverty she wouldn't have the same chances as anyone else. I can congratulate myself for that, even as I suffer in the knowledge that my chances are passing.

And I can accept that there are things I cannot control - movement, change, the hurtling path of this ball of rock through the cosmos. I can accept almost everything that has changed, everything that has moved. 

But I cannot bring myself to like the fact that things have to change at all. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Two Too Many

A few of you following this raggedy little blog may know that I have been dealing with the inevitable loss of a very dear online friend, George. Well, on Sunday night I got home and logged on to learn that George's struggle was over. He is gone from us.

There are many of us scattered across the globe, from Liverpool to Puerto Rico, who have been struggling with this. How can you define a friendship, let alone grieve such a friendship, when it primarily existed in the spaces between the ones and zeroes out in the ether of an online community? And yet here we all are striving to do that very thing while trying to grapple with a very real sense of deep loss and sorrow.

I have said before, and will say again, that online communities are the very definition of a "meeting of the minds." There is a purity of communication unmarred by pheromones or hormones or physical distraction that cannot be found anywhere else. Pen pals do not loom large in the physical realm and so their words can be truly absorbed, taken into account, and accepted free of any other consideration. And now we have all lost a great mind, a great friend, a good voice stilled before we had heard all that we wanted to hear. It is strange and hard and the reality seems cruelly surreal.

Tonight I received a phone call that has shocked me to stillness. Another death, this time wholly unexpected. A good, kind, gentle and generous man, a man I worked with four days a week, died suddenly. John had a heart attack, I am told.

What am I to make of all this? One death would be too many. Two deaths in the space of three days? It is too much. It is two too many.

The truly notable thing about all of this is that one loss feels no different than the other. Each of these good men left their mark on my life, on my heart in their own unique way, and the disbelieving grief I feel is the same in both situations. There is a hole in my life where these two voices used to be. I am poorer today by the loss of two good friends. And no matter how I met them and knew them, I did know them. I was fortunate enough to know them.

I am so sad. I am so lucky. I got to tell each of them how special they were to me before it was too late. In fact, one of the last things I said to my friend John before he left the last time I saw him was how glad I was that I knew him, how glad I was that he was with us and doing all the things he did for everyone. And George? I got the chance to call and talk to him in Hospice, and I got to thank him for being my friend.

Thank you both, gentlemen. You were good, gentle men. I will miss you both and I will take your friendships with me through the rest of my life with gratitude.

Good night.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I always used to consider the friendships I formed online to be transient, shifting, intangible things, meant to last as long as my interest in the places where they were formed.

Then some things changed. I met one or two people who seemed to either share my thoughts exactly, or had the thoughts I hoped to have someday when I "grew up" and became a more mature version of myself. I met some people who, once befriended, refused to come unstuck, refused to spin away off into the ether of the internet.

I met some people who knew how to hold on, and they taught me that real friends are where you find them. They taught me that I was worth holding onto. They taught me that an online friendship was the purest and truest definition of the phrase "meeting of the minds."

Out here on the internet we don't have facial expressions unless we use pictures or the funny squiggles at the top of the keyboard, so we learn how to talk to one another truthfully, simply, honestly, and clearly. We share our thoughts as clearly as we can, and we meet one another out here mind to mind in a way that can't be matched out in the "real world," where hormones and facial expressions and distractions of the flesh can lead us astray.

And among all these meetings, the one I have treasured the most and for the longest, and have taken for granted so foolishly, is my friendship with George.

He has told me many times that I am like a little sister to him. He's known me when I was nice, and when I was not nice, and when I was downright cat shit mean. And through it all, he was there, just being my friend anyway.

George, I hope you somehow can know how much I care, how much I miss your words out here in the fragile air of the internet. I hope that somehow you can sense that I am just as much your friend as you have been a friend to me. And if you never get a chance to see these words, I just wanted them out there, trumpeting loud for the world to see, that this good man was, is and always will be... friend.