Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Busy Weekend...

Another friend and I planned and had people from a former workplace in on Saturday for an informal memorial to our friend who died of cancer last month. Aside from laughter, food, nutty photos, and some penned remarks and memories from geographically distant friends, the handful who gathered in my flat chatted amicably on an assortment of topics.

The friend who planned this event with me brought over a potted bush we will plant in her garden. Though the exact name escapes me, the blooms are a peachy chocolate flower while the buds resemble small, dark penises, something our now deceased friend found funny and used to play a risque trick on her at work once upon a time.

The entire gathering took two hours from start to finish and was rather anticlimactic, at least to me. Because our friend had no money, his next-of-kin left his disposition to the State. There was no funeral, no other memorial, no obituary. I was happy to provide food and open my doors to those who will miss him.

Sunday found me in the stacks of the local library with my head buried in a book...
Have you ever wondered about the genesis of the eight-hour workday, unemployment insurance, Social Security? If you said FDR, you would only be half right. Although Social Security began on his watch, it was the only female member of his cabinet who pushed to bring these things into law. Her name was Frances Perkins and she lived during interesting times...

As do we.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Feet Of Clay

I've recently penned a sort of eulogy for someone I'd never thought to be praising...Someone who eventually realized that less than stellar behavior meant having to humble themselves enough to ask my forgiveness. The motivation behind this was, in the face of impending demise, to try to put right perceived injury and "get right with God," thereby enhancing the possibility of a better afterlife.

As a Jew, I find this focus on a theoretical afterlife rather than one's present life foreign. We are taught to be responsible in our behavior, commanded to repair the world in which we live, to look after others, to care for whatever we can of the world at large, and to try to better ourselves spiritually while we're here.

To me, this means actively attempting to live my life in such a way that I think before acting, and understand that my actions carry consequences. I claim no certainty with regard to an afterlife, though at this point, I do have more than a passing understanding of foibles, flaws and quirks, in myself and others. I too have had to ask forgiveness and take stock and found the process beyond humbling. Because of this, I readily granted forgiveness, hoping it might bring some peace to a turbulent situation.

While my Christian friend may have thought about these ideas in the abstract, what is to me most striking in the aftermath of this person's death is not only the trail of broken relationships and voiced regrets, but the noticeable lack of both mourners and closure for the few who feel it indecent to allow a life to pass unacknowledged.

We are all human beings.

Monday, June 2, 2014

As I Stare At The Blank Screen, Unsure Of What To Write...

It has been a busy and strange seven months since I've written here. I had a cross-country trip with the partner and dog of the young man who died in my house to attend his burial and pay my respects to his family. That was interesting and fraught with problems, laughter, tears, and unexpected revelations. I do not know why my young friend died, nor does his partner. As his legal next of kin, his mother has not shared any information from his autopsy report and that is her right.

My return home meant dealing with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder stemming from these events, and the subsequent loss of three more individuals from various parts of my life over the last months. I continue to support those I can emotionally but have dialed back other activities so that I can have the time and space to take care of myself as well.

I have not written much except in journals, which will remain private but I thank all of you who responded to the initial situation with care and concern. Though my writing here may be sporadic, I do intend to return as time allows.