Starkly away

I'd fully intended for to stay silent until my return. Life rarely works out the way I planned it, though.

A curve with two endpoints

…and I thought about how sometimes I go to such pains in my writing. If I have made any promise at all to myself, it is that I will not live an unexamined life; I will not stumble blindly from event to event, from year to year. Even then, with that promise in hand, I find myself more often than not standing toe-to-toe with truths I don't always like—and more often than not, I'm the one to back down. It's easier to choose humor over honesty.

For Jody, who will see this eventually -

first breath:
joy, laughter, jubilance, tears
photo ops
congratulatory cards
bassinets and sleep deprivation

first love:
nervousness, sweating, jubilance, tears
and everything in between
photo ops
secret letters
stolen kisses and forever promises

first loss:
disbelief, numbness, anger, tears
no photos
just flowers
and wondering how it all went so fast
from that to this

Life'll kill ya

  • 2:45 a.m. leave note for spouse, saying, "Trash needs to be taken out, and there's stuff in the master bedroom that needs to go out with it. Didn't want to wake you, so wake me up before you go."

    (This free-association cheezwhiz music moment is brought to you by the non-word "go-go.")

  • 7:13 a.m. Trash out to curb. Much yawning, contemplation of annoyingly bright sunrise, thoughts of replacing cats with lower litter-producing models.


I still remember the book I was reading at the hospital; I never finished it. I remember the position of the chairs in the room. Leatherette. I wore combat boots for most of the time Dad was in the hospital; if I couldn't actually combat death I could at least look as angry as I felt.

Part of me will always be twenty-five, bracing my current spot in A Confederacy of Dunces with my left thumb while I reached out to Dad with my right hand. Knowing that a touch or a voice would soothe him. Knowing that it didn't matter a damn how uncomfortable I was; I had to do what was necessary.

I hated touching Dad in the hospital. It felt…wrong. At least around me, Dad was not the kind of person to reach out and touch people. Only after his aneurysm surgery did he ever reach out to hug me; he probably had the same unusually-large sense of personal space that I have.

For now, silence.


August 4, 1945—March 19, 2002.

My mother stood by his left side, stroking his shoulder. My sister held his right hand, and I his left. Dad quietly stopped breathing at 5:31 p.m.

We were not surprised. We'd had several hours of warning.

Dad is no longer in pain. For this, I smile.

My father was a founding member of the Tull fire department, and it was one of the things that he cared about most. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the following: