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soon to be...adrift in time

Sep. 3rd, 2017

10:24 pm - Moving On

To my LJ friends:

I've recently moved the journal which I've kept here, off and on for 14 years, to Dreamwidth.

My Dreamwidth ID is ThisNewDay and I've set up my account so that all of you have access, should you choose to find me there.

I'll be maintaining my LJ account and will check back with all of you, from time to time, but will be making my new entries at DW.

My thanks to all of you. It's been great, but it's that time...


Mar. 30th, 2017

11:43 am - Ambushes

Those in mourning soon become aware that there are ambushes all around us. Things which unexpectedly trigger emotional responses. And because they're "ambushes," they can occur at times and in places where they're socially awkward or otherwise difficult to deal with.

For whatever reason, this day has been full of them. And it's a day that's only half over, at that, a day during which I'm expected by others to be out and about, doing "normal" family things and conducting necessary personal business.

A few minutes ago, I finished my P/T routine and went downstairs to change back into my street clothes. As I was changing, I thought that maybe I'd pull out the old recipe cards and make something for dinner, that I knew my grandson and his little tag-along half sister would eat, and invite them to come over before his soccer training at Pine Grove tonight.

So I got out the recipe cards, which had been rescued from the house on Mooney Ave, and began looking through them to find something quick, simple and, for the kids, palatable.

As I was going through them, I found the recipe for an Italian pasta salad that she especially liked and that I used to make occasionally for her to take to work. And always with fresh Italian bread from the Tops market over in Eastwood where they used to bake it on-premisis.

And I found myself having to close my eyes, very tightly, at the memory and the thought of it. With the wondering if she knew that this was one of the ways that I tried to let her know that I still cared about her, even though we were living virtually separate lives in the same house. Had, in fact, been doing so for many years.

After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and focused again on the recipe cards, thinking that I'd be all right. And then, lingering near the bottom of the stack where it had lingered undisturbed for those same too many years, I found the one she'd always made, that everyone had loved, from back in the day when she was still still genuinely engaged in our life as a family.

And that was where I had to stop. Sitting alone as I was in this house where it had been the fervent hope, of all who had tried to save her, that this would be the place where our lives would re-connect, just as our hearts and minds and bodies had joined in the epic battle to keep her alive for that hoped-for second chance.

And so I got up and walked out of the room and tried once more to turn my back, not on her or on those hopes that we had once had, but on the sorrow which lies so near the surface of this struggle to start a new life...


Mar. 18th, 2017

09:11 am - The Lovely, Disappearing Light

In the dream, she was like a picture that he might've seen in a family album from many years ago. A picture from the days when that amazing light still lived in her eyes so that, when she came into a room, it seemed like no one else was even there.

Except that now her presence came as a surprise, as if in a picture mailed to him by someone in the family whom he hadn't seen in years. Found by them in an envelope of old photographs that he hadn't remembered being taken. So that when he'd opened it, there was the picture and she was in it and there was the light.

And now she was looking at him with those eyes and smiling that young smile and talking to him and asking him to do something which she knew full well that he wouldn't want to do. But which he'd do anyway because it was for her and she was asking.

They were standing in the small house that had been put together just for them. And she could see, as she spoke, the sudden breath that he'd taken in and how the joy had vanished from his eyes.

But she still smiled and looked at him and said, "You knew that this was how I was when we first met. You knew that this was what I'd choose to do."

And he was thinking, "Yes, that's true. I knew it and loved you anyway, tried to be with you as you drifted farther and farther away until you were hardly there at all and the lovely light was mostly gone."

And she was watching him and knew what he was thinking and shook her head affirmatively when he was finally able to say, "But we talked about this and said it would be different, once we came here, and you agreed."

And as he said this, she was shaking her head that, yes, she knew. And yes, it could still be that way but she was still asking him to do this, now, and did so knowing that he couldn't refuse.

And even as she acknowledged their understanding, he knew that this was the end of it. That this was how they'd feared that it might be. Even if they'd managed, against the fading hope, to save her life.

Because all of them had said, had hoped she understood, that what they were doing was for her and not for themselves. That afterwards the choices would once more be her own.

And then the dream ended. And he awoke to face the sadness of all the plans that would never come to be. The ones which he and she and all of them had known might not have worked out, anyway...


Mar. 10th, 2017

11:13 am - The Valentine - Postscript

As a postscript to "The Valentine," I'd like to extend my dedication of this story to all of us who've lost someone we've cared about, someone whose place in this life will never be filled, regardless of what may someday come to us, in poetry of words or melody of song or even in new love which may, in that future moment, capture our hearts...


Mar. 9th, 2017

10:47 am - The Valentine - Preface

"The Valentine" is the last in a series of online journal entries called "Cardiology."

Like the Valentine itself, I'd like the story to be perfect. Unfortunately, at this moment, I know it's not.

But despite its imperfection, I've come to feel that it's the most important thing I've ever written.

Because it's for Helen, for always...


Feb. 16th, 2017

09:04 pm - The Valentine

It was going to be late. The Valentine was. But he didn't think that she'd mind. He'd found it at the supermarket, where they were taking down displays from the recent holiday, and realized that it was perfect.

After going through the checkout line, he drove home to put away the groceries and while he was there he put her name on the envelope and signed the card. Then he got back into his car and drove across town.

It was snowing and cold and, when he got there, the place looked deserted. He'd only been there once before, so he decided to stop at the office to hopefully avoid getting lost.

The woman in the office was friendly and smiled tolerantly when she saw the card in his hand.

"I know," he said, "it's late."

"Oh, I don't think she'll mind," the woman replied.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking," he said, and feeling a bit more confident, walked back outside to his car.

He'd been pretty sure that she'd like the Valentine, late or not. But it was still good to know that someone else agreed with him.

Either way, the card itself was perfect. It came with a red envelope on which he'd printed her name in block letters. She'd know at a glance that it was from him because that's how he'd always made them out for her.

The difference was that, most times, it'd been really difficult to find the right card. He'd often felt that they either said too much or said it in a way that just wouldn't sound right coming from him.

But this card, found among the leftovers from two days before, was perfect. It was the first one he'd pulled, from the nearly-empty display, and it was perfect.

On the front of the card were the words, "I love you..." And below that was a vertical column of three red flowers, each with a smiling yellow face at the center and each of them peeking, through a round cutout, from inside the card.

When the card was opened, the smiling faces were revealed to be shining little suns, with a single word above each of them and "Happy Valentine's Day" at the very bottom.

Now, as he stopped the car and prepared to get out, he opened the envelope for one last look, a final though unnecessary affirmation that it was just right.

"I love you..." the front of it said. Then, on the inside, above the smiling suns, the words, "today," "tomorrow," and "always." And, at the very bottom, "Happy Valentine's Day."


Walking from his car, in the lightly falling snow, he placed the card on the mound of dark and still-unsettled earth.

Then, as he drove back up the narrow track, he noticed the woman watching from the office window.

And as he drove past her, through the iron and granite gates, he waved...


For Helen. For always...

Feb. 13th, 2017

12:23 pm - Transmissions from PBR Street Gang

"Almighty, Almighty, this is PBR Street Gang, over."

[radio silence]

"Almighty, Almighty, this is PBR Street Gang awaiting orders, over."

[radio silence]

"Almighty, Almighty, this is PBR Street Gang. Do you read me, over?"

[radio silence]

"Almighty, Almighty, this is PBR Street Gang..."



Jan. 25th, 2017

04:20 am - Flying Home

Later today, our eldest daughter, who had flown in from California to help with her mother's care, will be flying back home.

It was her third trip back East, since the beginning of her mother's illness, and she was present for those last sad and difficult days in the intensive care unit.

By the time she arrived, for this visit, her mom had already been intubated and was resting in that drug-induced twilight from which she would never fully awaken. Nor, because of the breathing tube which was forcing metered oxygen into her lungs, would she ever again be capable of speech.

But when Katherine appeared at her bedside, her mother astonished everyone by clearly smiling at the sound of her voice and by attempting to speak when Kath told her that she was there for her and that she loved her.

By that time, the pacemaker had been implanted and the nerve-blocking ablation had been performed between the right upper and lower chambers of her heart. Also, within a day, she would be moved to an adjacent room where around-the-clock dialysis could be started.

But after bravely rallying once again over her final night, she would slip away from us, her worn body having at last given in to catastrophic organ failure and to what her death certificate calls "undifferentiated shock."

After that, Katherine would stay with us and would work with her next-oldest sibling, our daughter Rebecca, to help put their mother's final affairs in order.

Whatever she has done, she has done tirelessly and well, from being a wonderful auntie to her sister's three young children, a consoling voice to our silently-grieving but obviously-hurting grandson, and a valued presence at the myriad administrative and legal proceedings which have followed her mother's passing.

All of us will truly miss her, but her husband and four young children have been missing her as well. And she is also needed at home to resume management of the fire-investigation business with which she and her husband support themselves and their family.

As I was leaving to take my grandson home tonight, so that he could hopefully get rested and back to school in the morning, she pulled him aside and told him how much his grandmother had loved him and how much everyone appreciated him being there for the family.

On the drive home, this mostly-stoic young teen said to me that he wished we could all just go back with her to California. I told him that I wished that too. That, in fact, it's something that the family had briefly discussed, some months before his grandmother's illness.

I had also proposed to my wife, during one of those periods when we could still realistically dream of completing her recovery at home, that we take one of those scenic tours across country by train to visit Katherine's family in California.

Because she was so gravely ill, even then, she had a hard time embracing this for herself. But maybe it's a dream that I'll revisit with my grandson and the others, even though I'd find it hard to leave her here alone, in her place of rest.

Knowing that she is now the keeper, for all time, of this and so many other dreams...


Jan. 21st, 2017

06:36 am - No Matter What Is Said

When I awoke,
the morning after
we had returned you
to the earth,

I wondered
in tearful desperation
what might be done
to ease for you
your separation
from this place,
this life.

Then I saw
the contradiction
in these words but
nothing helped

no matter what is said,
I'm still here
without you...


Oct. 31st, 2016

12:34 pm - Scaling Back for the Road Ahead, Destination Unknown

It's like putting pieces of your life in bags and hoping that you've kept the right ones.

That the vital ones will be found intact when, and if, you find that you need them.

It's like having to say, "This part of my life had value and this part did not."

And then stopping to wonder, in one of those moments of numb and aching silence, whether any of it truly did...


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