Dear (You):

I wrote this long-handed while sitting in “The Olde Crapper,”
the oldest pub in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Typed, it remains identical except for the
“dopplestick” Altbier’s splay of creamy foam
due to the barmaid’s negligence and naiveté
of noteworthy Alt-style ales and their
distinctive yet dreadful character:

the infamously delicate and fragile froth
which collapses quicker than a slit souffle!

10 May, 2014

Dear (You):

Not writing to you doesn’t imply not thinking of you or your gracious patience since 3 February, 2014. That was the date of my last post which required wringing the writer’s dishcloth to honor the writer’s vow: To write no matter.”1-handwrittenletter2

Marcea, an insightful, honest, and very good friend (38 years) proposed “If writing is a catharsis, then I strongly suggest shifting your focus to gain perspective. If you force posts they’ll be “a whole lotta negativity” which no one wants to read.” And she was right. I spent months trying to frame what I went through, but everything devolved into a pity party or my selfishness or that I’m an unforgiving asshole. Then my partner mentioned an interview between Katie Couric and Hillary Clinton about forgiveness which ignited an epiphany underscoring families and catastrophic illnesses:

  1. Families take care of each other unconditionally, absent of remuneration, mea culpa’s, or thank-you’s;
  2. Family business is no one else’s business;
  3. Do your best and ignore failure. Indecision and regret stymies timely action;
  4. It’s their life and they’ve entrusted (not burdened) you to execute their wishes;
  5. Overlook your life which can wait. Focus on their life and prepare for remarks about death;
  6. Skirt your visceral, sentimental and selfish hope that life is too precious to be cavalier;
  7. You love, accept, honor, and respect their free will rationale about their life or death;
  8. There’s nothing, nothing more important in the whole wide world as this; and
  9. Be strong even though your heart is breaking.1-death2

Many thanks to my partner (of 30 years) who lifted the burden of impossible tasks (cleaning out his house, and negotiating with lenders); my best friend Scott who travelled with me and discussed diagnoses and added a degree of levity.

And especially to Marcea who gambled friendship for honesty.

I could not have navigated the maze alone, and I am truly blessed by being their partner and friend.

P,S, I have several drafts for new posts “in the oven.” Keep an eye out for them.

The Dead’s Etiquette: Returning To Sender

Self-designed stamp for the return of mail to sender.
Self-designed stamp for the return of mail to sender.

Emily Post let me down. Abby offered a half smile. The Post Office just stared at me.

My question was always the same: “At what point can I stop stamping to return my deceased brother’s mail?

Just last week he received a stack of mail three inches high! Perhaps they’re thinking of him as Deadbeat rather than Dead.

He died four months ago at which time I rented a P.O. Box in my neighborhood and had his mail forwarded to it. I designed the “return deceased” stamp. And each step was more painful than the last. With each envelope I was reminded that at some point in my recent past my brother for 58 years disappeared. Poof! Extracted like a tooth, and like an extracted tooth a hole remained reminding me that something had occupied that hole, something I took for granted as permanent.

I still cry when I’m reminded that he’ll never return as though he was exploring the far reaches of dense jungle. And with each damned envelope which I mannerly stamp “Addressee Deceased,” I ache with longing which tumbles to tears then swells to a contemptible bitterness toward companies which mechanically spit out statements completely void of sympathy or understanding or humanity.

I think it’s time to treat their mail like my best friend brother was treated: simply disappear.