Saturday, December 21, 2013

only in dreams

I was thinking again last night about whether it gets easier.  In a way, yes, the habit of loss sets in.  People can get used to anything - even a missing limb, even a missing person.  But like a missing limb, it's always there - your body or your life will never be complete.  It hits you over and over, despite the habit.  It's not that you forget, but sometimes hope sort of rises unconsciously and then you think, well, actually, no - it doesn't matter whether I'm healthy or sick, whether my day is interesting or dreary, whether I look good or haggard, whether anybody cares, or not, because this will never change - my son will never not be gone.  And then you wish there was a place where you could scream at the top of your lungs, but that wouldn't matter either, because your grief doesn't change anything either, so you just get used to keeping it inside and plodding on.

Ah, but there is one space still left to you.  And it happened last night.  In my dream I knew he hadn't died, though I didn't set out to convince anyone, perhaps because I knew they wouldn't believe me.  How it happened, I didn't know - he got off on a technicality perhaps.  This dream was familiar to me from when my mother died, but because she was sick, it was also filled with sorrow, because I knew she was still to die.  But not with my son, because he didn't have to die - it was all a stupid mistake, and if only he had dodged it, everything would be different.  But it's not.  Death is the only incontrovertible truth.  You can fall out with people, and it could seem that nothing would bring them back, but there is always hope that you would see past the betrayals and find each other again.  Death is the only absolute.  And, so, no - it never gets better.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


"There is always a little flicker there. It is a bit like the small glowing embers you see after a fire dies down. I carry that around me, a little ember, and if I need to, if I want to have Claire next to me, I blow on it, ever so gently, and it glows bright again."
 That is how it is, except there are times when the flame burns so bright, you want it to consume you, but it can't and you are left outside in the cold, still there knocking your head against the wall. The article I got the above quote from reminded me of my son's first experience with death.  It was my grandmother, his great-grandmother, who died when he was four.  He saw her in the months before that when she got sick.  I remember we were in the car, when I told him she had died.  Somehow, he already knew what death was, I didn't have to explain.  Acting well beyond his years, and a little theatrically, I thought at the time, he teared up and hid his eyes with his little fists.  Soon after that he woke up from a nightmare crying.  When I asked him what it was about he said that he dreamed I was old. I didn't ask him, but I'm sure he associated being old with dying.  I could only assure him that I was not going to be old for a very long time.  As it turned out he would never see me old. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Thanksgiving used to be my favorite.  I loved making all the dishes, even in my smallest kitchen, where I had to keep moving things around because I would run out of counter space.  He always came home for Thanksgiving.  I don't remember one without him.  It would just be the three of us and he would keep eating throughout the day.  I would have the turkey ready for lunch, then in the afternoon we would go out for a walk or a movie, then eat some more.  I can't have Thanksgiving anymore.  I won't say there is nothing to be thankful for anymore.  Things could always get worse.  I'm sure they will get worse.  There is no way they will get better.  But I am grateful for the past.  I will always be grateful for him.  But bearing with it is wearing me down.  Today I can't have a moment without thinking of his absence and how no matter what else happens, it will always be thus - he will never be here.  And no matter if my life is no different from before - after all it was only a few times a year that I saw him, and as much as I try to live in the moment and not go over the past or think of the future, I always come back to this immutable fact - he doesn't exist anymore.  And it always surprises me with its finality.  Other things can change, but this can never change.  My life is somehow dreamlike and this is the recurring motif - I wake up to this realization many times a day.  I still haven't internalized it.  And the pain has returned at night, but at a lower intensity - it comes in waves, repetitively, rhythmically.  But the pain is a crutch.  I welcome it.  It is much worse, when I am awake and I can't even cry - I can never cry, because it will be endless.  He will never not have died.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I have been thinking of retiring this blog.  Like other things, it has stopped working.  Many times it has saved me from doing worse, knowing that there is somewhere to pour out the pain.  It has replaced writing to people, who I realized, do not want to hear it.

I have been chastised for taking too long. Too long for what?  It doesn't get better.  I balked at this, but couldn't quite formulate my objection.  And today I read this in a book about suicide:
Nietzsche urges us to see that human suffering is necessary, but what is not necessary is painfully regretting that suffering. Our condition hands us difficulty, and unless we are careful to stop ourselves, we add more difficulty to our lot by fearing and loathing that difficulty. We suffer and then hate ourselves for suffering. We are much better off accepting the pain, seeing it as universal, noting that it can be borne, and, when possible, expressing it.
When possible, I will keep trying to express it.  Even if people do not want to hear it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Winter's coming

Now that the worst of the pain is gone - that paralyzing pain that would freeze my body at night, only faint memories of it returning - it seems that it should be easier.  It's not.  I have the everyday despair to deal with.  All of my life is in the past tense.  I'm the walking dead.  Sometimes, there are distractions, of course.  But the panic that there is not enough to make a life out of strikes again and again. 

Time, so much time has passed.  How did I get through two winters already?  Coasting on the pain.  How will I get through another?  I have to find something.  Looking forward doesn't work.  Looking  backward is worse.  Staying in the moment works, until it doesn't.  Until I would rather be anywhere but here.  Smoking stopped working.  Drinking is not up to the task.  I've been taking it easy on myself, but that has run its course, too.  I'm at a crossroads.  It could go either way.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

in their words

This week I received two missives from friends of my son - one solicited, one not.

"He could see everything that was wrong with the world, others and his own self and could do very little to fix these problems. His clairvoyance was really just eating away at him on the inside"

"He just simply knew and felt too much."~ G.
"I remember the first moment I saw you in the basement of our middle school. Time froze around you, there was a coolness and an ease - you were different energetically from everyone else. Tall thin, pale and resonant; you were a being from another universe to me. We were young, only twelve or so, and I had never dreamt of the things to come from knowing you."

"Through your brilliant individuality you shined a light within me to blaze. With the precision of a surgeon you dissected our perceptions and cleared away the falsehood of convention."~K.
Sometimes I wonder if I made it all up - his special quality, apparent from a very early age.  But it seems not.  Maybe this was the price he had to pay for shining that light so brightly.  No, this is the price we have to pay for basking in that light.  He is at peace now.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

love is not enough

Two weeks ago as I was parting from my son's friends after toasting his 28th birthday, one of  them held on to me and told me insistently "it's alright, he's at peace now.  he was in so much pain.  so much pain."  Enveloped by his strong, young arms, so reminiscent of those other ones, I nodded in reluctant agreement.  He meant to comfort me, but what was I agreeing to - that he's better off dead?  A few days later I asked him to elaborate, my son's words that I'm in denial continuing to haunt me and spurring me on.  He responded that he would reply later.  I'm still waiting.

But what can he really tell me?  Do I really think there is something I don't know?  I know there are things I will never understand - the reality of being a young male, but really the despair he must have felt I feel every day.  This morning I woke up with the thought that no, love is not enough, one must be cold and calculating, even in love.  If so, what are we here for - what is this whole circus for? Beauty is not enough.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A death foretold (in reverse)

I had my son's hand-written notes for a novel that was lost with his stolen laptop.  I even tried to write it myself and gave up.  Today, in one of the many backups of PCs abandoned throughout the years, I found the beginning of it.  It's much better than my own attempt at it:

               "It was the ceiling that did it that great expanse of white that brought on the weight of it all. I had gone from one moment to another and left my mother behind in the process. That was already the past and this, this unpitying void above my head, was the world now.  That which had passed sat already written, demanding that I fill this page with the future. This is what stood between me and the skies above. This was the roof over my head and I felt sure that I could hold the weight of the sky before I could budge the weight of this. My mother’s death was a sentence on the page, it could not be ignored, but the page demanded another still. I was the one who would speak it.
I lay there on my back in her bed which still had the smell of her perfume in it. It was a lie with no one to tell it. My mother would never smell like that again yet it was the only proof I had that she was ever here with me. The way a person smells, sometimes that is all that’s left, this was something that I understood then for the first time. Im not sure it is something that I will ever be able to grasp again. How can you really be expected to face something like that?
Somewhere in the night my mother had stepped off  the shores of a Montauk beach and in a sadness quickened with gin entered the waves of an ocean, those silver curls of black darker than night, walking off the earth leaving me here with this great silence above my head, not an absence but a presence, an enemy. A gathering anticipation of consequence which rang like brass in the air, it sang of a world to come which conspired against me. I would never be able to fight it away, a monster like that, a truth with wet fang and a taste for my flesh.
Tears came, orphan tears, the pressure of them caving in my chest taking the breath from me. I shook with them. They washed the future from my eyes, this was something I could live in for now. I had lost my mother, the woman upon who I had taught myself to love this world. I would now have to learn anew.                 

I woke with the heat of the sun on my legs."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

the banality of grief

So I read Julian Barnes' book on which this reviewer was too kind, I thought. Though many passages echoed my own experience, the collection was disappointing.  Some writers are better at fiction.  Mixing the two only served to point that out.  Although the grief over a love affair and the grief over death do go hand in hand in my experience. ("Every love story is a potential grief story.  If not at first, then later.  If not for one, then for the other. Sometimes for both.") But the whole didn't hold up

But he did speak of the dreams in which he realizes his wife is dead even though she is in the dream.  He also related a last dream, in which his wife realizes she is dead and cannot be there. 

He also speaks of the isolation of grief.  How people refuse to talk of the dead and are at a loss when you mention them.  How some friendships don't hold up to grief.

My favorite passage was:
 "This is what those who haven't crossed the tropic of grief often fail to understand: the fact that someone is dead may mean that they are not alive, but doesn't mean that they do not exist."

Sunday, October 6, 2013


That is a word that has often come to my mind as explanation of my tragedy.  And I mean it in the classical Greek sense. 

Contrary to what my son may have thought, I was always proud of him for being different.  And now he is the most different - he's dead.  And part of me can't help but be proud of that - that he did it his way, that he wouldn't grovel to save his life, that he was above it all.  

Now don't I deserve this?

Friday, October 4, 2013


I have been having a lot of dreams about my son lately.  Usually he's small and I am trying to protect him in some way.  Usually I'm not aware that he's dead.  But last night I had one from the undead variety.  I had those a lot when my mother died, but they started right away.  With him, it has taken me two years to get here.  What I mean is, in the dream I am aware that his death happened, but somehow he is still here, so we can have it both ways.  The death was a mistake that shouldn't have happened, therefore it didn't. And the feeling upon waking is not the spasm I used to have, but it is like a heavy weight on my abdomen, sort of like the weighted pillow they put on me after I birthed him, to help shrink things back to normal, I assumed.  I feel hollow inside. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

two years

"It hurts just as much as its worth." 
Two years came and went on Monday.  I was bracing myself for the pain on Sunday night, when my husband casually asked me "So, who dies tonight?"  I froze before I realized he was talking about the TV show we were about to watch with anticipation. But that was a defining moment.  We grieve alone.

I did have a bad night then and the next one, but the cutting pain just wasn't there.  The quote above is from Julian Barnes.  In his memoir about the death of his wife (which I haven't read yet) he speaks of the well-meant and misguided consolations people would give him.  One of them struck me: "two years, they say."  He, like me, scoffed at such measures.  And yet my body tells me differently.  Maybe there is a biological limit to how much you can hurt.  If it doesn't kill you...

So where does this leave me?  Is that all it was worth?  Two years' worth?  Has the pain evolved into something else?  Or has a part of me died?

"And lead me to some slender rest
And please dismiss what I confess" ~ Two Gallants

Sunday, September 22, 2013


The pain that had escalated when I came back from abroad has curiously receded.  I'm not sure when it first disappeared - it is like with hiccoughs - how do you know which one is the last one, until they have stopped for a while - but it's into the weeks now.  Sometimes when I wake I even probe around for the pain, I know how it would feel, I feel its echo, yet, no, it doesn't come.

About a week ago I had an unsettling dream.  I was in a sewing contest (yes, like the reality TV show) but then my son's corpse was there and I noticed he had a cut on his finger (in reality he did have some nicks on his hands, but his was a larger one).  I started sewing up the cut.  His flesh was supple, but it didn't bleed, yet though I knew he couldn't feel it I winced at each prick.  That may be when I lost the pain, when I was numbed to it.

Later in the dream I regretted using the needle.  I should have glued it, I thought, like they did the cut on his scalp when he was little and his friend made him jump off the piano.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


"because some things break before they bend"
I woke up tired today.  I spent all night, it seemed like, trying to get you to change your ways.  But I think I've had enough of regretting the past.  Now I just miss you, just as you were.  I just miss knowing you.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

living in dreams

This was a strange one.  My son was back with us even though he is dead, but not as a ghost or a zombie, but for real, only as a child and temporarily.  That was understood, that it was a temporary reprieve from death. Still, it wasn't desperate or sad.  Isn't this how it really is?  We're living on borrowed time.  If only we knew it with certainty.  I knew it in the dream.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

5 a.m.

"marching in a slow parade
there are ashes where you laid
and sometimes i don't mind at all
and sometimes head against the wall" ~ A.A. Bondy
It has been a while since I couldn't sleep for terror.  This is my life? Everything I've loved shattered, my very identity destroyed, and the pain, the pain and the guilt.  You deceived me so well.  Why did I let myself be deceived? I had warnings, I had chances - I should have been a despot, I should have raged, not been complicit in your self-destruction.  You were right about me.  I lived in denial.  You told me explicitly and yet I continued for another three weeks.  Until it was too late.

You must have had a scare to talk like that.  I warned you about taking things to sleep, but I should have flown over there and yanked them from your hands and yanked you out of there and held you while I could.  You were a big man, but you were still my baby.  I should have held you.  I didn't use my own power.  I let you go.  How can I live with that?  How can I sleep?  Who am I if not your mother?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


"And I sing and sing of awful things
The pleasure that my sadness brings
As my fingers press onto the strings"
 Last night I couldn't fall asleep from the thought that there is no exit - that every night ahead will be like this - a black void.  So the present and the future are ruined, but is the past?  If that were the case, wouldn't everything be ruined, because it inevitably ends in loss? No, I can think of the past without it being drowned out in sadness, or at least no more than I would have felt before for something that I cannot recapture.  My life is not ruined, because I have no future, as his is not, because it ended abruptly.  We had our lives.  That's all.

"Except we keep coming back
To this meaning that I lack
He says the choices were given
Now you must live them
Or just not live"
~ Bright Eyes
And furthermore, they say that while there is life there is hope.  But that is not true - some things are irrevocably lost, even as we continue to live.  They are not impossible, but we make them so with every breath.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

more on place

They say 'it was his time,' when someone dies. I say that place is more important than time when it comes to death.  Accidental death, at least.  Yes, time and place conspire for a unique set of circumstances, but place seems more important in the equation. 

Place certainly plays an important part in forming us.  Not that you can escape from your drives and tendencies, but they can play out differently according to your environment. 

I don't find it accidental that California claimed him.  His whole pilgrimage to there by train - it's like he reached the end.  Yes, I should take him back there so he can continue his journey by sea.

And I have reached the end here.  All the pleasures and connections I had found have retreated.  My lack of purpose now as a childless mother is multiplied by the fact that I came here for him.  And this place took him away from me.  It's not an irrational hatred I feel.  I don't feel hatred.  There are very few things I feel anymore, besides pain.  I don't blame the place, but it was instrumental in how things played out.  And it unmistakably weighs on me.

Friday, July 19, 2013


I have said before that time doesn't heal, but maybe places do.  Being away for almost three weeks unexpectedly gave me a respite from waking up in pain.  It's not that I was happy, but the pain I felt was mostly dulled.  Maybe because I had only happy memories of my son there as a child.  Maybe I didn't feel his absence, because he hadn't been there in years anyway.  I don't know.  But, as I came back I was acutely aware that there is no reason for me to come back here, no one to come back to.

I also went to a place where I thought I could scatter his ashes.  He had talked of the mystery of our mountains and how he felt tied to that land.  It is a beautiful and spiritual place, with seven lakes at the summit of a mountain, where people gather in mid-summer to dance.  The top two lakes, which I couldn't reach, because the weather turned to rain and fog are named the Eye and the Tear.  The Tear is the highest one.  I thought I would lay him down there, and I would go into the Eye one day.  But, I don't know now.  He didn't seem to belong there, in calm waters.  It is the sea that must take him, because it rages and covers the world.  I will go back to the place he liked, the one that claimed him and see if he belongs there.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

grief doesn't cover it

I'm supposed to be bereaved and going through grief. I know what that is like and this is so much more.  I wake up every morning with a hole in my center.  I wake up in pain.  I know that I'm a failure from that first moment of the day.  Because I created something beautiful and it couldn't thrive.  Every decision I made was wrong.  It's different when disease or pure accident takes someone.  It's still unfair.  There is still enough blame to go around, but this is different.  This is failure at the core. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

no solution

"Her life has no solution.  It is like a crime that cannot be undone."
~ James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime

Sunday, June 9, 2013

his last email

I must have seen it before, but today I looked it up and saw that it was to someone he had recently met, giving him links on advice for a Paleo diet.  He sent it while he was waiting for his girl to respond to his text, but she had fallen asleep.

As much as I sometimes think it was inevitable, this reminds me of how stupidly accidental his death was.  A chemical quirk.  His last text was "Did you fall asleep?"

I cried today.  It's getting too hard.  My pains last night wouldn't go away after the spasm subsided, my stomach continued to hurt.  I miss him so much that nothing else is worth it.  Not that there is anything else.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Time doesn't heal.  Hope does.  And I have none.  What time does is make the pain ordinary.  It is now expected, if not welcome.  I can almost make it appear on command.  It's not tears, though.  Someone asked me if I cry a lot.  Almost never.  That is a sort of indication of what I have come to bear.  No, I don't cry, I just spasm with pain and wait until it dissipates.  Lately, it's been accompanied occasionally by hot flashes.  That may be just menopause coming on.  That doesn't make me sad.  In fact, my vitality makes me sad.  I can't wait for it to go.  I can't wait for that final moment when I realize - this is it, this is all of it, there will be pain no more.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


"forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past"
I read this somewhere - the Internet is rife with bits of wisdom like this, misattributed or not, but this one is so simple, yet so hard to achieve.  Yes, if we let go of the past, we are truly free, for then we have nothing, and having nothing, there is nothing to lose.  And yet how can I give it up?  What to replace it with?  Nothing that can happen in the future can ever make up for what I have lost.  Nothing. I have to replace it with nothing. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

this is my life

Having lived for nearly 20 months now after the event that ended my life as it was, I wonder not why I do it, but how.  The why is obvious - because I have no choice.  Ending my life, although still eminently desirable is too violently hurtful to people, who do not deserve to be hurt more.  Living is only hurtful to myself.  And I deserve it.  I don't mean because I am responsible for an accidental death thousands of miles away.  Logic says I am not.  But I deserve to be alone.  Without a child, or a lover.  I had those, but I couldn't keep them.  Therefore, this is my natural state.  So I must get used to it.  I don't hate myself enough to kill myself, so in order to continue living I must relinquish the self-hate as best I can.  I no longer pine after a do-over.  That would mean I think I deserved better.  I don't.  This is acceptance.  This is my life.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

the new normal

There are days like this - I've slept through the night, nothing aches, I don't have to do anything, there is a blooming tree outside my window, there is no discomfort in existing.  Yet the center of my existence is gone.  I'm like those people who lose their vision and can only see out of the periphery of their eye.  That is the best I can do.  This is the new high.  I can only live life on the edges.  My center is gone. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Had a breakdown today, caused by - yes, stuff. 

I often have the same thought, when I'm handling some random object, usually in the kitchen - that this was around while he was alive.  That's not unusual, of course - most things predate his death, which was only 18 months ago.  But the thought persists.  Sometimes I think: I didn't have this while he was still alive, or: he hasn't seen me in this. 

But today was different.  I was just about to do yoga and was looking around the room, which was not very tidy and had all these objects strewn on the dresser - multiples of each - scarves, hats, and sneakers on the floor.  And I thought - why is this stuff still around, and he's not.  I mean it's not even his stuff.  But somehow it irks me that my money has gone to all these stupid objects, which will exist forever, and he does not.  And all my money couldn't save him.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fear of driving

I remember the last time I drove a car.  I had to pick up my husband from the airport. To change lanes on an almost empty road, I looked back several times, wavering until the driver behind me started desperately gesticulating to encourage me to make the move already. I remember every time I’ve driven – there were so few of them and they were always terrifying.  Every time was like my first time.  I always had to think which was the gas, and which was the brake.

I only got my license at 36.  I thought it would finally make me feel like a competent adult, like I wasn’t just impersonating one.  

When I was growing up my mother never drove.  She had a license, but after a near-accident she never tried again.  She would always overreact at my father’s driving. I can see her hand reaching for the dashboard as she yelped for caution. I was never scared then.  I thought nothing bad could happen to us.  Once when we were driving through a mountain pass my father had a gallbladder attack.  Fortunately, my mother was a doctor and travelled with all essential medicines.  She gave him something and we had to stop and wait for his spasms to pass.  That’s the first time I questioned her not driving.  I decided I wouldn’t be like her – this ultra-competent woman who could save a life, but couldn’t operate an automobile to save her life.

When I turned 18 I promptly signed up for driving lessons.  I wanted to go with a friend, but I got wait-listed as the class was full and so I dropped it.  At 19 I got pregnant.  That summer I went to the beach with my brother and my new husband.  My round belly covered in hot pink spandex did not stop me from swimming and diving, to the horror of mothers with small children around me. The vacation ended abruptly when my husband was called back for work.  My brother drove us back at night on another perilous mountain road.  I sat alone in the back seat in the dark not seeing where the road would swerve and for the first time I felt a paralyzing fear for the life growing inside of me.  

When my son was a baby we were constantly shuttling between our parents’ homes as we didn’t have one of our own.  He would always promptly fall asleep in the car as I held him on my lap in the back seat.  When we finally got our own place I was alone there with him a lot, since my husband traveled for work.  One time my son got the stomach flu.  He was two or three years old and the vomiting and diarrhea had left him limp.  I had never seen him so sick that he wouldn’t speak or play.  He smelled like nail polish from the dehydration.  We didn’t have a phone line installed yet.  I had to leave him alone and run to the payphone outside to call a friend with a car.  I felt so scared and helpless that I barely got the words out to explain what the problem was.  Later she told me she had thought ‘the worst had happened.’  No, that would only happen years later.

Throughout his childhood I would have recurrent dreams that my son was in danger and I had to drive him somewhere, but I couldn’t.  Often in the dream I would have to take control of the car while I was in the back seat.  

When I finally achieved some financial stability, after having moved to another country and struggled to support my family while going to graduate school, I bought a car so I could learn to drive.  It took me three tries to pass the driving test, and I was shocked when I did.  I felt like a fraud.  

I forced myself to drive the car for practice, once getting stuck in traffic for five hours, my ass turning numb.  But at last I was able to drive my son, like a proper mother should.  He had, meanwhile, turned 18 and gone away to college.  

When it was time to bring him home after his first year, I started out early to beat the traffic. When I got there he hadn’t gotten up or packed.  That took us a couple of hours. By the time we finally started back, I was already exhausted and missed a turn without noticing, heading in the wrong direction.  I was also hearing a strange noise coming from the car and I realized, turning cold inside, that when I’d parked on a slope in front of the college I had halfheartedly tried to pull the manual brake and then forgot to release it.  The brake had been scraping against the wheels all this time.  I kept that to myself as my son was already apprehensive about my navigation and driving skills.  Instead of saving his life with my driving, I was putting it in peril.  I was a fraud.  

Once I found our way back, though, he promptly fell asleep, sitting shotgun with his guitar between his knees, the small car stuffed with his clothes and furniture.  I got us home, but not before once nearly fatally forgetting to look back into my blind spot before changing lanes.  The car next to us moved over to avoid collision, while my son stayed asleep.  

Years later he would laud me for that trip, saying what a trooper I was.  My son never got his license.  He was scheduled to take a driving test the morning he died.  He had the same aversion to driving that I do, that my mother did. I must have passed it on to him in the womb that night when I first felt fear for him, for us.  Now I have no fear.  And I have no reason to drive.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

18 months

When I think of it, I invariably think of you as a toddler.  Your death is in its toddler age.  You were a fabulous toddler.  You were fabulous at every age.  Just not viable at last.  I can't help but relate your beauty to your unsuitability for life. 

I'm listening to your music.  To music you would have listened to.  I miss you so much.  I wish I had someone to talk to about you, but I'm too far gone.  I feel it coming - the unbearable.  "This country of endured, but unendurable pain."  Your words - how could you have known this?  I think you knew I could endure it.  And you couldn't.  We survive every moment but the last.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


A few nights ago I had a dream that we had my son cloned and he was living a second life.  He was about 8  and he was the same person.  I mean he had the same traits and character - he wasn't aware of his past life.  But we were and yet we were making the same mistakes with him...

When I woke up I actually worried for a moment that there was nothing to clone, because it was all burnt, but then I remembered the organs from the autopsy...wonder what happened to them.

Since that dream I have been taking more interest in news about the progress in cloning.  I also read an article that with new techniques, people can be revived up to 7 hours after death.  That might have worked.  And they are still the same people.  So when do we really die?

Saturday, March 16, 2013


My son was not one for neatness.  He would sleep on a bare mattress on the floor and go without socks, and for all I know, without underwear, rather than do laundry.  But he had a profound respect for books.  He would scold me whenever I would leave paperbacks splayed out face down. saying it would ruin the spine.  All of his books, hundreds of them, are immaculate. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

silent scream

I can't breathe.

There I was only today thinking almost cynically - time really does heal.  After all - am I not living proof?  Going about my day to day, more like living death, but still - breathing.

And here I am now pierced by the thought of all the things I could tell him, all the love that only he could absorb.  And the way I pulled back from him and didn't pour all that love out.  And I want to scream, but I don't.  The tears pour silently down my grimacing face as I write this.

I was listening today to a podcast - a philosophical argument about when death is relatively worse.  The argument was that it is not so bad for an infant to die because it isn't yet connected to the person whose life will have value. For the infant itself it is not so different from dying in the womb, which cannot be considered bad because it is almost the same as the 60% of all conceptions that end in spontaneous abortions.  And it is not so bad for an older person to die, because the years of quality life he would lose are not so many. Death is not so bad when there is no good life left. By those calculations the very worst death is that of a young adult.  The very worst.

And yet I have been trying to comfort myself that all deaths are the same, and his was at least painless and unforeseen. 

And that is just considering the person who dies.  And what about those of us left?  When is death worse?  When we wasted the life.  Oh, I want so badly to be unconscious, almost as badly as I want to scream.  This is my scream.  The scream that will never be heard.  The life that will never be lived.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I had a long series of dreams last night.  In one an emotionally extravagant friend of mine came through the window like a good witch, bringing many people with her, some of them quite old, and speaking of transcendence.

Then, my son was an infant. He was very quiet and serious and suddenly I realized I hadn't breastfed him all day.  I wasn't sure if I could, but when he suckled I could see the milk coming, although I couldn't feel it and my breasts were their usual size and not engorged at all.  He did not seem ravenous, but merely performed his part dutifully. 

A previous night, he was grown up and some calamity had befallen him.  As I rushed to his aid I thought thankgod it's not the worst that has happened. 

I hate waking up.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Write what makes you happy"

That's the advice someone gave me when I told him I was having trouble with the novel I had started.  I scoffed at him that that wouldn't make very good art, but he just nodded wisely, as if that didn't matter.

And, of course, it doesn't.  Only I don't want to be happy, so I can't write that.  But I can write what's on my mind and I finally started doing that.  As much as I like reading fiction, creating it does not seem to give me any satisfaction, perhaps because I'm not good at it.  Fortunately, I can always tell bad writing when I see it.  I just can't always help it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


My son's aunt had a dream about him - that he was surrounded by girls seeking his attention.  In the dream she thought that wherever he is, he is popular.

Last night I dreamed that while I was fully aware of his death, I was with an old friend and we were trying to see if he would appear while she was around.  We were in the neighborhood where he was born and we didn't know at what age he would appear.  Then I saw him playing with a group of kids, around age 4-5 and I remembered him also being there in adult form, but when only his father and I were around.

Friday, January 25, 2013


"You've seen what you were and know what you'll be
You've seen it all - there is no more to see."
When I'm at my most sane I think 'a life is a life.'  It doesn't matter how long it is, just how full, how satisfying.  When I'm at my most sane I envy him.  I am not afraid of death.  I'm afraid of a life that has gone on too long.  I wish mine had ended two years ago.  Then it wouldn't have been an altogether unhappy life.  But I can't wish to have left him behind.  So in a way, I'm happy for him for having gone first.  For that I can take on the pain.  That I can do for him. 

Monday, January 14, 2013


Losing a relationship is losing part of oneself.  People are not replaceable.  One cannot live in memory only.  One ceases to live in part.