My brother-in-law passed away on Easter Sunday. In his case, it’s more appropriate to acknowledge that he died on April 1st; when @bhoneydew and I heard the news, we first thought it was a bad joke.
In truth, we’re not sure it wasn’t.
He was 33. He’d moved out of our basement (where he’d been living off and on for the past three years as he bounced between jobs) three weeks prior. He had been at a new job, one that he liked very much, for only a week. He got up to go into his parents’ kitchen, collapsed, and could not get up. He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The family has more questions than will probably ever be answered, but that is expected, even if this wasn’t.
I turned in the project, as I promised myself. I didn’t notice until afterwards that I’d submitted it on the first anniversary of Mom’s death.
Not that I forgot, good grief, no, I just didn’t notice while I was submitting it, in the same sense that I always remember that there’s laundry to be done, but I sometimes don’t notice that there are clean clothes in the dryer that need to be put away first.
I didn’t do anything dramatic like pick up the phone to tell her and remember she wasn’t alive to tell. Honestly, Mom was the last person I wanted to talk to about such things. I got good at dealing with her stumbling across the ones I didn’t hide as well as most, because they were all at a temporal remove where I could shrug them off as meaning little to me, yep, no big deal, nothing to worry about, let’s talk about your day.
There’s a why behind that, but it’s a long story that I don’t intend to tell. It’d be too one-sided now.
Oh, how to start?
Where I am now
Is even less me than art
The feinting thump
Of an armadillo heart
Hey, I can walk in your shoes all day
Probably best to keep it that way.
Last week’s cryptic post was brought to you courtesy of my mother’s making an unexpected exit from the world. It was followed a few days later by my losing my great aunt; less unexpectedly, but damn, my family’s sense of dramatic timing.1
I’m now back home, up to my eyebrows in work that’s been keeping me up to 5HourEnergyCaliberUnfortunateHoursOfTheMorning, and now and again my brain gets stuck on the fact that my mother — who was Payroll Officer for a community college — made sure that she didn’t drop dead before she got out this year’s W2s.
Her shellshocked co-workers kept repeating that to me when they filed in for her viewing and funeral (and feeding us, bless ’em). Peggy got out the W2s.
@bhoneydew and I did our taxes as soon as we got back.
Now and again, my brain gets stuck on that fact too.
1One of the ways I kept myself together last week was imagining I was in a movie, and doing mental exercises as far as who I’d cast to play us all, and who’d do the cinematography and soundtrack. My sister (wisely) curated my in-the-real-world choices for funeral music. My (wiser) Monster opted to sing along anyway. Loudly. In a chapel full of stunned silent people. I was dumbfoundedly proud of him. Also wondering where he’d been listening to Miss Dolly and Miss Loretta sing gospel music, but more proud than dumbfounded.
Death only calls when I’m expecting someone else. Caller ID doesn’t help.
So glad I’m not driving right now.
Ashes to dust tears to wind
-so, yeah, I wrote a haiku
The title of this post comes from “Day In Day Out”, the first single off David Bowie’s Never Let Me Down, the album which helped me get through the dark bad parts of 1987 and the whole of the terrible year that followed. Go have a listen to it, if you have a chance, the access and the inclination. Back in the day, Rolling Stone‘s Steve Pond called it “something of a mess”1, and oh yes, indeedy, it is, but so was I then, and eighteen-nineteen year old me appreciated that there was an old fart out there who seemed to get messed up and weird from the gut to the skin, instead of just wear it for money.
RIP, sir. Thank you.
1 psst … “Shining Star (Making My Love)” is one of my favorite tunes on that album.