Julienne Gede Edwards left the world on August 8th, 2019, just before 11 am on a bright morning as she lay in her bed. It was where she’d wanted to be at the end. As it happens, despite having a lot of people in and out of the house during her final days, she and I were alone. I was holding her hand and reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane aloud, her favorite book and the one she’d asked me to bring to hospice with us to read to her. I checked her oxygen levels as I did periodically, to make sure that she was getting enough to her blood. The last week of her life required a lot of oxygen so she wore her nasal cannula as she’d done for over a year by that point, as well as a mask that she hated over her nose and mouth to give her additional air.
The other day I was talking to my wife about my struggles with writing. I wanted to submit some short stories for a publication but I was having trouble coming up with things to write about. She asked me a very sensible question: “What do you want to say to the world?” I thought about it, and only one answer came to mind then, and I still don’t have a better one:
I feel drained, hollowed out. Not all the time, of course, but it’s my default state now. Some days are good, some days are bad, but the common thread through all of them is a bone-deep exhaustion. Not exactly the kind of thing that a reader is dying to pore over. There’s good reason for it, of course, just like there’s a good reason for the depression, the feelings of powerlessness, the nagging question of whether life’s mundane responsibilities like paying bills and worrying about a credit score is worth it due to an occasionally overwhelming existential crisis that’s part and parcel of our every day.
You don’t need me to tell you that 2016 was a very fucked up year. Many beloved famous people died, including people who helped define some of the most widespread cultural touchstones we have, from a princess to a professor to a candymaker to a spider from Mars, along with ground-breaking musicians, one regressive judge, comedians, athletes who defined entire sports and eras, giants on the world political stage, and more besides. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, pets – maybe you lost someone personally in 2016. It was the year that never seemed to quit taking. Seriously, go look a list of the famous people who died last year. I guarantee there are people on there you forgot about, and couldn’t believe you didn’t remember.
Also, there was an election, wherein a thin-skinned pissboy with less substance than an expired McDonald’s coupon became president of a nation whose espoused ideals stand in stark contrast to everything the tragic joke of a man set to lead it embodies.
OK, this whole blog post is coming out way more depressing than I intended. Sorry about that.
This is the short story I wrote for my wife for Valentine’s Day. As I’ve said previously, it’s the first story I wrote after 4 years or so, and it was the first thing I needed to write in a very long time. She inspires me every day, and I wanted to share with her a little glimpse of how she is in my imagination. This is a small part of her, and since people asked to see it and she said it was okay, I’m sharing it here.
Also, the drawing is a sketch I made of Spaniel Day Lewis for the Valentine’s Day before this one, and since he also graces this story, I thought I’d share it, too. I’d illustrate the whole thing if I could, but I sadly lack that talent.
Once there was a girl who lived in a house that was down a hill and up a hill away from the woods. The girl loved the woods very much, and was often found there, exploring the hidden places and listening to the music of the trees. She was very bright and imaginative and kind and clever, and a million other wonderful things besides, but most of all she was brave. She felt no fear under the boughs and amidst the brush, even when the shadows lengthened, because she loved the forest near her home. There were always adventures to be had there, and she would run or skip or stalk or sit quietly, however the mood struck her, as a branch became a wizard’s staff or a wind-borne blossom sprouted fairy wings or all the birds gathered to sing her a lullaby.
Warning: This post is probably as personal and serious as I’m likely to get on here. It won’t be very funny. It will, however, be genuine. You been warned.
Father’s Day is coming up. For many people, it’s a day to give their father a suitably crappy gift and give the old man a hug. I see a lot of ads and sales and heart-warming hey-ain’t-Dad-great stories and I think that’s pretty cool. For a lot of other people, Father’s Day means not much at all. There’s a load of deadbeat dads, kids who don’t have their fathers in their lives, dads who abandoned their kids and whatnot. For some, Father’s Day is a reminder of someone who abused and terrified them. Not such a great place to be.
I haven’t done a “5 Things” post in a while (small bits of stuff that don’t warrant a full blog post, but allow me to write something), but since I’ve been sporadic and feeling guilty about it, I decided to do one today.
1. A very strange day. Out of the blue, I got a Facebook message from an aunt on my father’s side. I don’t recall ever speaking to her or meeting her, although it’s possible I did when I was very very young. When my Dad died when I was 7, we pretty much lost all contact with his side of the family (and the majority of my mother’s side as well, long story). One of his brothers, Phil, kept in occasional touch, mostly because he was executor of my grandparent’s estate, and when they died I received a small sum of money, along with all his other grandchildren. In the space of a few hours, my aunt and I exchanged a few emails. She’s a hospice nurse with lots of children and grandchildren. It was nice to finally “meet” my father’s sister.
Since it’s been a little while since I’ve done a blog, I figured I’d go ahead and fill you in on the EXCITING and TUMULTUOUS EVENTS (or lack thereof) that have taken place.
Football: The Redskins won yet another ridiculously close game. Out of 5 games, 4 of them have come down to the final play. Only when they got hammered by the Rams, who lost 44-6 or something this week to the previously 0-4 Lions, was the outcome of the game not in doubt on the final snap. Heart attack central, this team. But since they are 3-1 in those nail-biters, I’ll take it for now. Read the rest of this entry
Sibling relationships can be truly bizarre things. People talk all the time about how a certain friend is like a brother or sister to them, meaning that their affection and closeness rivals the ties of blood. In many cases, these same people have actual brothers or sisters that they aren’t particularly close to, or don’t care for, or actively dislike. I know many people who talk shit about their siblings constantly, only to vociferously defend the siblings to others who do the same. It’s weird.
1. I, along with Lady Aravan, spent the weekend playing Mass Effect. When some people say that, they mean they spent several hours doing something. What I mean is, we got home from work on Friday night and started playing, played until 2 am, got up Saturday and played from noon until 6:30 am, got up Sunday and played from noon til 11:30. I finished my second full run-through, including at one point going back 6 hours to an old saved game since I screwed something trivial up. Lady Aravan finished the game for the first time, threw in Mass Effect 2, and started playing until she realized that there was a bonus for getting level 50 in ME1 in the second game. So she reloaded a saved game and spent a good number of hours finishing nearly every quest in the game (she missed 1 that I am aware of, and couldn’t get it without going even further back) as well as finding pretty much every debris field and resource on every landable planet. When she finished the game, she was 50 and I was in awe, since even though I went back 6 hours and did the same shit another time through, I don’t have the fortitude to do what she did. Although I have to admit it bothers me that I’m 48. Moral: we like games.