March 14, 2006

Goodbye, Roger Borden.

I've been checking my e-mail every five minutes, hoping someone would send me a cheap distraction. A note. A link. A joke. Something to keep me from feeling what I feel tonight. I'm just empty inside.

I suspect plummeting blood sugar is part of what I'm coping with, along with anxieties about this new gig I might or might not get at the end of the month—and a glimmer of hope that I might be able to keep the good client, ditch the bad one, and get the staff position I'm hoping for, which would get the husband and me back into the benefits game. Sponsored health insurance, of course, would a big plus for us right now. And we could also use some kind of steady income: there should never be two freelancers in the same family.

But that was just the beginning of my emotional tailspin: annoying projects—seemingly without end—for my nonprofit volunteer work, the fun symbolism of getting together with Attila the Hub to cash in one of our last few assets . . . and then hearing about Roger Borden's death last night. (I called him Matt Carnation, here. He loved that post, and sent the link to a lot of his friends and relatives.)

He's in his early fifties—was, I suppose, dammit—and succumbed to a liver cancer he told me he'd probably beat. I believed him, because 1) I'm stupid, and 2) my friends aren't alllowed to die. Not that I've heard of anyone who survived liver cancer, but this was going to be the time. I was sure of it.

I'm in a state of rage right now: rage at Roger for dying, rage at myself for not keeping in closer touch, rage at cancer for taking the young, and rage at God for giving us this gift of life, only to snatch it away. I want to shake my fist at the sky and yell out, "what's the freakin' point?"

All of which is irrational, of course, so I start over again, and find that I have an inexplicable fury at myself for being such a child, for being unable to accept that life ends. And fury at my pathetic attitude that I don't really have to grow up until one or both of my parents die. Fury at all the procrastinating I do, at the chances I take of leaving this earth with my dreams unfulfilled. Whatever those were. (I've forgotten. Well, maybe I haven't.)

At least I had some warning the last time someone died on me, though that was a particularly rough one, because the person involved had a stroke, and worked hard to get his life back to normal. He'd just about succeeded when they found the . . . cancer. (See? I almost swore. And I can't, because Dave always thought I was a lady. His mistake, but one wants to be respectful.)

I've been trying to think of solutions. I've considered the option of not getting close to anyone who's older than I am, but 1) it's too late in the day for that, and 2) even people who are younger than I am can die: there's no guarantee at any age.

Then, brainstorming-style, I consider not getting close to anyone. But that doesn't entirely solve my problem, because I'd still die someday. And if all my human affiliations magically vanished, I'd simply die lonely (though perhaps it would make my final years seem a lot longer than they really were).

For a couple of years, I've been trying to operate with a sense of how finite life is, and how precious. I'm even being polite with my parents, whenever feasible, because theoretically they might die someday. And even when it comes to the young and/or tough—people I presume will outlive me—my time with them is still finite, because I'm mortal, too. Kinda.

But I don't much like it. Not for me. Not for anyone with class and verve. Roger was a funny guy, and he didn't get many breaks. At least, it didn't seem that way from where I was sitting. I've known several people in my twelve-step group who buried their children, and I admired most of them for being able to speak of it without crying. I admired Roger because he almost always cried when he mentioned his son.

Roger was special. He did work in our program that will live on for many years. He's a guy who made a difference.

Edna got it right:

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Roger: "For me? Well, as long as you turn it into something productive at some point." I'm pretty sure that would be his take.

So I will try. I'm not promising. Not quite yet.

Posted by Attila Girl at March 14, 2006 11:16 PM | TrackBack

The only thing in life that is certain (beyond death and taxes) is the here and now. Tomorrow is a bright, shiny promise, and most of us will live to see it, and it will become the here and now.


So tell those special people that you love them when you have the chance. Remind them that they're important to you, and that you value having them in your life.

And it's OK to rage, and to even feel childish for doing so. It may not be particularly rational. But it is the human thing to do. And you are human, yes?

Let me leave you with two thoughts: I appreciate you. I enjoy your writing, and wish I had even a measure of your skill. And a thought, stolen from a master of the written word:

"End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it."

"What? Gandalf? See what?"

"White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise."

At least I hope so.

Posted by: I R A Darth Aggie at March 15, 2006 05:55 AM

Sorry for your loss...I have no words to lessen your pain.

Thanks for all the good you do for all of us! You are making the world a little bit better for all of us!

Hoping all will go well with all your plans in progress.

Posted by: Darrell at March 15, 2006 11:37 AM

Thanks, guys. You're sweet. All will be well at some point.

I just kind of thought people would be amused at the sheer childishness of it: "Roger died, and it's all about me!

Posted by: Attila Girl at March 15, 2006 03:38 PM

My condoleences to you. Your words are heartfelt and I admire the character behind them.
As for a desired cheap distraction, I'll share an old med school joke which I hope doesn't offend too many.
The time came for a guy and his gal to get physical so off they went into the woods. The guy removed his shoes and socks revealing deformed toes and nails.
Girl: Uhmm, whats that? Guy: Tolio
Girl: Tolio? Do you mean polio? Guy: No, Tolio!
Next, the guy removed his pants revealing dry, scaly patches on his legs.
Girl: Uhmm, whats that? Guy: Kneesles.
Girl: Kneesals? Do you mean Measles? Guy: No, Kneesles!
Finally, the guy removes his underwear.
Girl: OOO, I know! Small cox!
The end. All the best to you.

Posted by: Dalsan at March 15, 2006 04:14 PM

Um. How many, um . . . how many did he have? ;)

Posted by: Attila Girl at March 15, 2006 04:18 PM

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