Sunday, September 9, 2012

Into the Woods

Girl Scout Camp
There has been no way (good, bad, helpful, articulate, cathartic or otherwise) to write about the loss of a family friend and the process of putting my father into hospice.  I still don't have a way, but to not write leaves things too lost, too unreal.  The surreal, we have down.  Reading an e-mail about the death of our beautiful friend in Brittany; signing paper after paper (did you know there were so many?) to initiate the merciful project of hospice care.  These two deaths intertwine: one so sudden and tragic and absolute; the other gentle and comforted and intentional.  As the medications have worn off, my dad has been more alert - he really connects when he looks at you now.  I searched briefly for his knowledge and wisdom about what is happening, but gave that up to instead stay for as long as I can in his knowing of me.  He looks at me with such understanding, such kindness. I will miss being known by my father.  I tell Oliver, who is sad, that he will keep on getting to know his grandfather through the 8,000 slides of world travels, the notebooks kept during WWII, the record albums from Brazil, France, everywhere it seems.  And I think I believe that, even as I see the call to memory as kind of beside the ultimate point, which is that my dad will be gone.  Oh my poor mind, back and forth between realism and mercy.  What we tell ourselves, what we tell others, about death.  Hospice is the new ars moriendi, the new art of dying well, and it changes the conversation from lush metaphors of what happens after to quiet discussions of what is happening now.  Now is a contested concept here - within a month? most likely; tomorrow? could be. "But you never know." And so, into the woods - the combination of knowing and not knowing; the tiny allegory of Eleanor and her best friend Sophie sharing a walking stick upon starting a hike at Girl Scout camp; the presence of wonder in the mundane; the places your thoughts wander; the things that surround you that have nothing to do with you; the connections and sense you try to make; the giving up and giving over you do to sunshine or pockets of cool air.  Here we go.


  1. Thank you for writing this beautiful post. I'm sorry for your loss, and for your impending loss.

  2. It's all interconnected, right Jeffrey? Even if it doesn't add up, or shouldn't add up. I'm glad to be writing again, I realize that I've missed it. I'm also truly grateful for the joy and energy of BABEL coming up - and for having been able to work on a talk (about perceptual models for things we can't perceive, fittingly enough). Can't wait (truly can't wait) to hear your plenary.