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This Wonderful Life

August 6, 2009

This Wonderful Life: Open letter to a friend whose mother is dying

There is nothing good or right or fair about this. Until it happened to my husband and then to me, when I heard someone speak of losing a parent, I did not appreciate the full weight of what they had lost. Now I wonder how something so commonplace can be so excruciating.

It seems that its everydayness should dull its edges and turn it into a tumbled stone you can carry in your pocket or plonk into your jewelry box, where it will sit silently until you have the need to feel its glassy, cool weight in the palm of your hand. Instead, it is a sharp and heavy thing with unexpected spines and razor edges. You forget that it’s there, then you cut yourself on it while fishing in your purse for quarters or lip gloss.

It is unbelievably hard - an emotional tri-athalon - but it gets easier. In the meantime, if you are looking for someone who has been there and is happy to talk shopping or gossip about celebrities or just send you clips from Marx Brothers movies, I’m here.

Finding a good, small-batch whiskey and a couple good friends with sympathetic pouring skills is a perfectly reasonable response. So is climbing to the highest peak in town and throwing rocks at God. I’m up for either, and God is certainly strong enough to withstand whatever we can deliver. Remember that you are surrounded by people who love you and would give anything to know how to make this easier for you and your family.

The vast majority of people our age, which is to say somewhere around 30s and early 40s, never learned the delicate art of Bringing a Casserole. We want to help, but we don’t know what to say. We don’t want to intrude on someone’s private anguish. And we sure as hell don’t know what to do.

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This Wonderful Life
  • This Wonderful Life: I can say No, but I prefer Yes If popular culture is any indication, it seems women suffer from an epidemic inability to refuse additional responsibilities. Magazines, self-help books and therapists nationwide offer heaps of advice on how to assert oneself, draw boundaries and generally say No when asked to sign on for those things for which we have little time and less interest.

    November 25, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: I wish someone had told me Disclaimer: Because my son more or less demanded that I stop using him and his life as material for my column back when he was 12 or 13, I want to make it perfectly clear to all my readers (and any legal professionals who are now retained or may be retained at some future time by aforementioned son) that this column is not about him. It’s about me. The fact that he happened to turn 21 on Saturday is mere coincidence. So help me God.

    November 19, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: A view through bare branches Every morning, Bee and I stand at the end of the driveway waiting for her bus and we look up into the branches of the elm tree that arches over the drive.

    November 5, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: To Posey on her fourth So here we are, on the other side of 3-years-old, and it seems we both survived it intact. It wasn’t easy, but perhaps it made us both stronger.

    October 30, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: A Posey by any other name... A few weeks ago, Posey gave us all new names. Or, to be more accurate, Posey gave us all one new name. Rose.

    October 8, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: Are pork chops really that good? If it seems unlikely for a vegetarian (that would be me) to own a couple of table- bound pigs, it probably seems downright absurd that their names should be Tender and Delicious.

    October 2, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: I sssssseeeeeee you there The first thing you should know is that I used to suffer from a snake phobia. The operative word there is phobia. It wasn’t just a matter of disliking snakes. It wasn’t a fear of being bitten. It wasn’t a simple reluctance to touch their impossibly dry, nimble bodies.

    September 24, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: What’s so funny? My kids, I hope In my experience as a three-time parent, there is something absolutely, spiritually magical about the first time your child cracks a joke.

    September 17, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: Who are these little girls? There are two children in my house who bear a striking resemblance to my daughters. They are adorable, smart and energetic.

    September 10, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: A harvest that’s good for the soul Signs of harvest are all around. The afternoon sun glows amber over the fields and the farm stands are filled to overflowing with vegetables and fruit. We’re lucky to live in a place where we can have such an immediate connection to the food we eat.

    September 3, 2009