Saturday, August 01, 2009

I've seen fire and I've seen rain

There was a day in the bell tower of the old campus building in which we let the mome raths out. And there was much mimsey.

We were celebrating Lewis Carroll's birthday, and decided the balloons, bright creatures, would do well for mome raths. Oh, we were whimsical. There was cake.

Those days we celebrated anything at the drop of a hat or the baking of a cake. I fed the bluejays from the far up window and skipped classes to write poems on the window sill. I fell in love. I fell out of love. I edited a literary magazine and triumphantly rejected the poetry of a professor who'd rejected my work.

Oh, I was not always nice then.

But she and I, we had fun, as our paths crossed. She was majoring in a science, and I was an English major, but she appreciated the odd, and I embraced her very tender sensibilities.

There were parties at her apartment and walks in the rain and adventures in which we fed 200 from a woodfire and she filmed me playing with the orphans, my long hair streaming, blowing soap bubbles.

As if soap bubbles and dancing might save the world. Many years later she wrote that she still had that film, with me as the soul of the California girl, and had shown it to her new husband, trying to explain the time.

I don't know if she mentioned the mome raths. Maybe she did.

So the decades went on. She was very successful in the scientific and academic world, and probably adored by her students. When she met and fell in love with her husband, when she married him, and they combined their household dogs, her notes to me were less frequent, but brimming with delight.

And now and then there'd be an email, out of nowhere, a bit of humor or a pretty thought.

So when I got an email from her today, I was happy and mystified. The subject line was her name, which seemed odd, but you just never know.

I opened it. It said "You are receiving this because you were on her contact list; she died suddenly on Thursday..."

I stopped reading for a moment.

The rest of the email was full of details on the coming service.

How did that song go...

Yeah, something about "but I always thought I'd see you one more time again"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Here we are talking about long lingering deaths, and this is the other side of the coin, the sudden unexpected death with no warning.
I guess a consolation is that you at least were informed about it. In the age of on-line everything, people can just disappear off the internet, and no one knows where they have gone to. But to receive that email, it does make the heart stop.

6:30 PM, August 01, 2009  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Thank you, dear heart. I sometimes debate which is easier--the quick stun, the lingering days?
Which would I prefer for myself?

I never quite make up my mind. Each entrance to grief does have its own logistics.

The internet thing is very new; I think these days of making certain I leave some notes to my survivors with passwords and final messages to my contacts at various cyber locations. A strange thing to think of, isn't it?

8:08 PM, August 01, 2009  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Arg. I am so sorry the anticipated smile turned into a notice for grief.

Reminded me too much of how I learned my friend Peter had died (very pre-internet) -- a nice older lady neighbor went through his address book, calling and leaving voicemail for people listed.

A few days before he'd died, Peter told me about a dream he had where he'd met his perfect other and all the rocks smelled like ripe peaches. He asked me to interpret the dream, and I couldn't. Somehow I could not recall the peach being an ancient Chinese symbol for eternal life.

Anyway, sending you a hug through the aether. And I finally did wander a bit with the camera, thank goodness...

1:45 PM, August 02, 2009  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

How you can manage to blend the beauty of nostalgia with grief and loss always amazes me. Maybe it is your full appreciation of both. I am sorry for your sudden loss. Perhaps she was right - bubbles are a fix for everything.

7:07 PM, August 16, 2009  
Anonymous marly said...

My daughter was leaping around the room reciting "Jabberwocky" in an insane voice to her little brother when I clicked on your name, jarvenpa!

Life is always so riddled with these tiny ironies. In the midst of life, death.

Sympathy, jarvenpa. I find that the second half of a life demands a lot more of that substance.

10:14 AM, August 18, 2009  

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