Hello, friends. I’ve been pretty quiet lately, I know. I haven’t felt up to writing much. There are so many things piling up that need to be done, not the least of which is laundry. But other things, too. Thank you notes left unwritten; newly inherited possessions left unsorted. And I am sad, comprehensively and nearly unrelentingly. I cannot bring the funny today.
Tomorrow would have been Mom’s 78th birthday. This picture was among her things, and it’s marked 1959. She was 22, or 23, and had been married for not quite three years. She had one baby boy, and maybe another, depending on whether it was October yet.**
I’ve been unusually crabby this week, and I think it’s because of tomorrow. The first year, “special days” are just awful. I can’t wait for the Christmas season. (You guys know how I feel about that anyway. If anyone has a pill I could take to sleep until next March, hook me up.)
I feel inundated by death. When Paul’s dad died, I went back to the same funeral home and saw a lot of the same people in the calling hours and at the funeral. Mostly, I was okay, but a couple came through that were friends of my parents since before there were seven-digit phone numbers, and when they hugged me, I kind of deconstructed for a minute.
And there’s a death I haven’t talked about here yet. About ten days ago, Paul’s cousin died. She was almost exactly my age. And while I’m not seventeen anymore, that’s still young enough to make people ask why. I’ve been thinking about it.
I think Jackie died of sorrow. I think she died of weariness and pain and no hope. She was locked in a bitter struggle for a long time, and I think she just couldn’t find anything left with which to fight. And I find that so sad that dwelling on it makes it hard for me to breathe.
I cannot bring the funny today. I cannot find it myself right now.
I think loss always brings reflection, and questions. But the breadth of what we don’t know about other people’s secrets and sorrows is wider than any of us can understand. I’m left thinking about a quote I heard years ago, by Aldous Huxley.
It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way advice than “try to be a little kinder.”
Kind isn’t always my best thing. But I’ll sure try.
**Edited 10/3 to add: Math alert. My brother Lee wasn’t born until October of 1960. I never have been good at word problems.