Thursday, December 05, 2013

Trailing the tail end

So I practically missed writing for November, huh? Well, I suppose that says something, given that I've barely had enough time to sit down and write. But it seems oddly fitting to do that tonight - to press the pause button and give myself a bit of a break before I get back on the proverbial treadmill and start running towards (I don't know) what I want? What I need? What I'm looking for?

Technically, I'm supposed to be doing a lot of things, or at least preparing to do a lot of things. There's the Shakespeare conference tomorrow, and Writers' Night on Friday, and Readercon on Saturday; various social events that require my presence or my time; work, of course, and the piles of papers I have to check before the Christmas break descends. But in the middle of it all, I received shattering news, and now I'm having a hard time processing.

Here's the thing - when we learn that somebody dies, there is that moment when you think that it's all just a joke. How can it not be? How can someone you just saw yesterday, the day before, last week, how can they go away, just like that? It's like someone's just pulled a fast one on you, and there's no other way to describe the utter hollowness that I felt when the news came through.

I remember when my grandfather died, fifteen years ago, when I was in second year high school. He had been sick for a long time, but he was getting better, and we hoped that he was starting on that long road to recovery. And then, one Sunday, when we went to dinner at my grandparents' house, we learned that he was just gone. In fact, one of my cousins told me, "They took him to Arlington," and I remember thinking, Arlington? They took Lolo to Washington DC? Then, when I learned that it wasn't a place in the States but a funeral home, the world just crashed around me.

Now, this feels like that moment, but on a quieter and more intimate scale. When my grandfather died at 14, sure the world felt like it was going to end, but it was more of how I felt for my own mother and how she must be feeling to lose a parent. My grandfather had lived a long and full life, and we had been preparing for his passing for a year or so at that point. This one, the news that we received today, seems like it was a story truncated mid-sentence, an expectant pause that will never be filled with words again, a trailing ellipses without a period in sight.

I won't even claim to know him as well as other people; I can't claim to be as close to him as many other lives that he's touched (ahem) and the experiences he contributed to. What I can say is how he affected MY life, and how it became better for it. What I can say is that, from my interactions with him, is that he is kind and funny and beneath all of the snark and punny-ness was a generous spirit. He wanted to make the world better, and I'd like to think that he passed on from this world to the next having been able to do just that.

I owe a large part of my happiness to him, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Thanks, Butch. I will always be thinking happy thoughts when I remember you.

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