pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out

20 November 2014

And a star gems the sky

26 November 2011

Oddly, my mind wandered to flowers.

For reasons we never understood, when my grandmother died, my aunt ordered at least a dozen absolutely hideous funeral arrangements to be ranged around her casket. Gladioli in chartreuse and a hideous orange and lime green (I may be making that last one up in my head, but that's what I remember). Arrangements that fanned out like the tail of some gruesome bird.

I hate gladioli.

For a stunned moment, whilst on the phone this morning, I thought, I should order flowers, and just as suddenly, shied away from the thought.

Not my job.

But I had a job today, and that job was telling people. First, I had to the tell the spouse, and that moment was beyond awful. And then I had to tell my children, and that moment was worse. It was my job to answer the phone. To help with writing notes. To handle practicalities and offer gentle reminders.

The spouse recognizes that I, too, am grieving. But I have the capacity to put that aside for the most part and do triage. Periodically, I probe the pain gingerly, like a sore tooth, but quickly shy away as the moment of impact approaches, as I come close to acknowledging that someone is gone from our lives.

Time enough, later, for that.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. For CHS, 1928-2014. I wish I'd had a better photo.

17 November 2014

Bye-bye, baby

Somewhere in Santa Ana
Santa Ana, California
14 November 2014

We did something different for the daughter's senior portrait and hired a photographer to do a session with her. She wanted professional headshots in addition to her senior portrait and for a kid who really doesn't ask for much, it seemed like a nice thing.

A makeup artist came in and did her hair and make up. Then, because we are a bunch who spend a lot of time in the great out of doors, the photographer decided that we would head outside for the shoot. The daughter enjoyed the experience more than she thought, and the spouse and I trailed along, enjoying a place we'd never seen before. I spent a lot of the time kicking myself for not bringing my good camera.

The photographer showed us some of the shots she'd gotten, and the daughter looked gorgeous. She is, of course, though she has no clue. Which is fine.

She is stressing over classes and college applications. Two applications in and 5 to go.

But she got her first acceptance today, which is a huge relief to her.

My baby is on her way.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

01 November 2014

Ringside seat

Noche de Altares
Santa Ana, California
1 November 2014
Chaperoning yet another school event...

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

31 October 2014

Runaway train

Fullerton, California
18 October 2014

It wasn't a runaway train--that would be my life--but we were standing too damn close to it.

The daughter had to film an introductory video for one of her college applications and we spent that day filming trains, riding trains, and watching trains. Her video starts with a freight engine bearing down on the viewer.

Which is exactly what this month was like.

Tech stuff: Taken with my my iPhone4.

10 October 2014

The lineup

Santa Ana, California
7 October 2014 or thereabouts

Time has assumed a certain fluidity. It's tough to track, squirms away from my grasp like a fish in a river.

A contractor was here to give me an estimate this week.

"We'll honor that price through the end of the month," he told me, a look of satisfaction on his face.

I squinted at him for a moment, trying to remember what month he might be speaking of.

The spouse was out of town most of the week, so I had the morning and evening commute, never good. Seconds ticked off until the next task to be accomplished, seconds that became minutes, minutes turned to hours and another day.

Death like birth has a time of its own. We wait.

He sleeps alot, eats little. I saw him turning inward weeks ago, caught those first signs of internal retreat, knew what I was seeing.

And my inclination was still to fight. For his sake.

But increasingly, I am seeing the futility of the battle. I am coming to acceptance, trying to be the fish instead of the grasping hands, looking for ways to comfort rather than control, seeking the flow.

I am not one to give up. I solve problems. It is what people hire me to do. Fix things. And I'm so good at it.

It is when I confront the unfixable that I am no good at all.

Tech stuff: Taken with my my iPhone4.

30 September 2014

I'm watching baseball. Don't bother me.

26 September 2014

He did seem engrossed in the game.

Tech stuff: Taken with my my iPad.

29 September 2014


From Sequoia
28 November 2008

Two to eight weeks.

I am no stranger to death. Its workings aren't unknown to me. I've seen the process and the end result. I understand time frames and probability. I know, only too well, what a terminal diagnosis is.

And yet.

And yet, yesterday, I was told that we are there. Two to eight weeks.

And yet, my brain continues on in some sort of denial.  I know he's dying. I knew he was dying 11 months ago. I told my children to expect that last year was likely the last time we'd spend the holidays together. But, I hear two to eight weeks, and I try to process that idea. It's like he's leaving on a trip, I tell myself, but he's never coming back.

Unreasonably, I envision him in his prime, standing in the doorway of airplane, waving goodbye.

I can't explain why the concept puzzles me. I test the hypothesis but it makes no rational sense.

He is not helping the process, of course. Yesterday, I took freshly made meatloaf and mashed potatoes, which he picked at. I knew he would--he has no appetite--so was unoffended. I was grateful that he'd made the effort. He made the effort, too, to joke with us, telling us that his soft drink was too cold and he'd have to "sneak up on it."

"Don't let it see you're coming," I warned with a smile.

"You are so right," he responded with gently mocking gravity.

At the end of the afternoon, he thanked me for making a meal, and pressed my hands to his face. He told us that he appreciated our help and with our help, he was going to get better.

Going. To. Get. Better.

At first I was stunned by what seemed blatant denial of the situation. He is so thin and his skin is parchment-colored, almost waxy. His hands were like ice. My brain--oh my treacherous brain--parsed his words. "Better" meaning he would be dead and in a better place?

Was he actually, in his head, taking the parental role to its ultimate place and trying to reassure us?

I have no answers.

And as someone who generally has a game plan, this time, I don't even know what to do.

Tech stuff: Taken with my my Nikon D40.