(This is to give folks a sense of the overall process and progress of this ms. as it develops)
Dec 17, 6:45 p.m.
Some days are darker than others.
Five days from now will be what poets invariably think of as “the day of least light.” I’m fascinated by this astronomical fact, but especially given the current circumstances you can see where it begins to work on me. Had this horror happened at another time, the added sunlight would at least have made it that much less like hell, which is to say not much except as backwash for emotion. I’d have less of this perfect timing of darkness.
Hitchens has died from the cancer which nonetheless gave him grist for that amazing mill of talent; even when he could no longer speak, his writing was unmistakable. No one else wrote like him; from a journalistic point of view, he was like Zappa, iconoclastic but undeniably brilliant.
I didn’t always agree with Hitchens; No One Left to Lie To is often an uncomfortable read, and he buys into a number of Clinton myths, but try The Trial of Henry Kissinger for juxtaposition; the same man wrote both books. Amazing. I miss him already. Suddenly I seem to be missing a great many people.
This of course is a fact of the aging process. Finally you discover that lots of the people you loved when you were a kid are now either older or dead, and then as David Suzuki says, you become an elder and suddenly people are looking to you for what you bring to their lives.
For me, this is a period in which people I know and love are dying in droves. In my less-unbalanced moments, I know that this is all just statistical inevitability and that at certain points the numbers can be hard to deal with. That’s happening here, and of course the fact that Lisa heads that list, impossible as that fact still seems, is a force multiplier of incredible proportions.
Some nights are harder than others.
Last night was an example. Started drinking and wound up howling on FB. My friends understand it’s hard to keep from doing that when you’re geographically separated from most of them and yet you want to convey an emotion of importance. They write back and are uniformly kind and sweet. They know quite well what friends are for. So I say things like “I miss Lisa” and they get it, they understand what I mean: It’s a cold, lonely night without her in this world; I ache.
Mind, I know what I’m putting them through. I’m asking them to help me carry this weight, and bless them, they do. Just by saying “Hang in there,” they feed the idea that, sure, surviving is possible when the people close to you show support the way they have. Of course, they’d rather none of us had to, but then this planet would become even more crowded than it already is.
Closing in on 30K words. Fifteen per month for two months. I suppose that’s something. This is hard material to read, I grant. I wouldn’t, myself, but then I’m especially sensitive to emotional stories. This is different from A Grief Observed in at least one way—I have someone a single specific person I can blame for the death of my wife. It muddies things. The death of Lewis’s wife occasioned an examination of faith; while this has to move in that direction, Lisa’s death hasn’t shaken my faith and I doubt it would happen. I believe in a life after death, unlike Lewis, because of what I’ve seen. Those have been very fortunate experiences; they’ve taught me that God is neither of any one religion or any singular creed. God is above that, I believe. I’ve had experience enough to convince me something—I couldn’t possibly tell you precisely what—awaits us. I see it as beyond religion. We’re all right. We’re all quite completely wrong. I think God looks at us in death and chuckles. Really. What silly sods we are; war in God’s name, hating in God’s name….but I don’t believe in Hell, either. I don’t believe it exists. Therefore, Mother Teresa is sitting with Christopher Hitchens talking philosophy like Monday-morning quarterbacks over the lives they had. And Lisa….and Pat….
No. I don’t believe Pat is being punished. I think the manner of her death was punishment enough, and I would never consider asking God to do one more thing to her.
Of course, this little file is what I substitute for revenge. It is served cold, after all. Made in Canada.