Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the question of self-pity

"People in grief think a great deal about self-pity. We worry it, dread it, scourge our thinking for signs of it. We fear that our actions will reveal the condition tellingly described as 'dwelling on it.' We understand the aversion most of us have to 'dwelling on it.' Visible mourning reminds us of death, which is unnatural, a failure to manage the situation." - Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

How many times did I say this to people - it's only self-pity that makes me sad. I'm not sad for him - he is no more, I'm sad for me. But I'm also sad for who he was. Now that I'm writing about him the hardest thing is not writing about the death. That gives me a certain comfort. I can feel a certain detachment as I'm describing what I'm going through. But when I write about his life, everything makes me sad - the good and the bad, the things we did and didn't do. I wish we had done more.

I wish we as humans didn't dread death. What is death to us? I just wish we knew what we have while we are living. But we can't. We just can't.

Monday, February 20, 2012


I've started writing what I hope will be a book. Working title is Our Dark Knight. In a way it comes easily. I'm never at a loss as to what to write next, but it comes at a cost. Being truthful brings up pain that would otherwise lie below the surface. I realize that I'm in a peculiar state, one in which anger and self-blame become one. But I have no choice. I've failed at life. I need to succeed at writing. Otherwise I have no excuse for continuing to occupy space on this Earth. I owe it to him. His life is complete, but mine isn't. It's a lonely task. It makes me feel like I'm at the bottom of a well. Memories are not things you have. They are things you will never have again.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W.H. Auden, Funeral Blues

 I first heard the poem in "Four Weddings and a Funeral".  Was reminded of it reading Joan Didion's memoir about the death of her daughter, Blue Nights.  Went on to read the one about her husband, The Year of Magical Thinking. 

I never liked Joan Didion, although she was one of my son's favorites.  I always found her cold.  Now I think she is just like me.  Or maybe all people who lose their only child are alike.  In any case, it helps to read about someone else experiencing the exact same thing.  It makes you feel less alone.  Thank you, Joan.  You take comfort where you can find it.  I have always looked to literature.  Never thought I would find it in non-fiction.  It has changed my perspective on writing.  That even the most profoundly personal can be universal.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

just deserts

Lately I've been feeling that I deserve what happened.  More than that - that we all deserve what we get.  And so I deserve this barren life, bereft of its only meaning - love.  Why?  Because of cowardice.

You told me I lived in denial.  Not exactly.  It's not that I couldn't see.  It's that I couldn't act.  My sins are all ones of omission.  I never did the wrong thing.  I just didn't do the right thing.  Because of fear.  There are instances that come clearly to mind.  But this is not the place. 

I said in the beginning that I knew I was always meant to write.  The reason I haven't is not because I think my writing is not good enough.  It's because I have no imagination.  I'm always amazed at how wildly imaginative my dreams are.  But in real life I have no access to that power.  But there's one thing I can do.  I can write what I know.   I was kind of a journalist after all.  I can take what I know and make people understand it.  Maybe even feel it.  That's all I need to do now.  I need to write about you.  Because you were amazing.  Because you had no fear.

Another reason I gave myself a pass on becoming a writer is because I thought you could do it better.  You were as good a writer as me, but you also had a life.  But although you wrote, you didn't leave behind much.  You were too busy living.  Well, I have no life now, so I have all the time in the world.  I will write about your life.  I don't pretend to know all of it.  I was in denial, remember?  But there are people out there who know about it.  They can help me fill in the gaps.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

no love

Oh, who am I kidding?  Love can't save anyone.  You knew that.  You were wiser than me in so many ways.  Love is at best an illusion.  The best kind, but still an illusion.  No one can take away another's pain.  No one can give another's life meaning.  I was naive to believe that.

And you were right about me - I did live in denial.  As cynical as I am, I could never face up to how ugly things really are.  I was always secretly hopeful that truth and beauty will prevail.  

I am no more.

Friday, February 3, 2012


"everything passes before you get to scream I LOVE YOU out the the window of the train"
I hadn't seen that one before.  I know you meant it more than literally, but that's one of the biggest regrets I have for you - that you never really found a deep romantic love.  I think that if you had, it could have saved you.  I know that mine couldn't.