Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We Were



There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't.

I think that’s F S Fitzgerald.

I once lived with a philosopher. A philosopher who actually made a living by philosophizing. And he was always going on and on about the space-time continuum. Which strikes me as funny because, to any appointment, he was terminally late.

This philosopher knew where he should be, but he didn't know when. I knew when, just not where. We made an odd pair of missed connections.

G would end most conversations with, "Enjoy!" And, and ... there are so many things that disturb me when I think about G, these several years later. For example, I remember how he wanted to live a long life, even to the point of eating wheat toast dry, without any butter, as the butter might harm the heart, shorten his time.

But G didn't know about time.

And one day he put a gun in his mouth, when I was far from his space. And he has missed a sunset tonight. We'll all miss a sunset eventually, but if you eat dry toast, why the rush?

I should have been a better friend.

He knew space, I knew time. This time I was late, and somewhere else.

47 comments:

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Karin. Wow. I'm sorry for your loss, my friend, but please don't take on any blame. When people want saving,we can sometimes help, but often, they don't and we can't. The thing you can do is make sure you don't miss a sunset until you must. That's all any of us can do.

Mister Earl said...

Lots of questions. No answers.

This is a song
Comes from the west to you
Comes from the west, comes from the slowly setting sun
With a request
With a request of you
To see how very short the endless days will run
And when they're gone
And when the dark descends
Oh we'd give anything for one more hour of light
And I suggest this is the best part of your life

- from May I Suggest
by Susan Werner

Jean Spitzer said...

I too am sorry for your loss.

Shell Sherree said...

I'm so sorry, Karin.

Mister Earl said...

You were in the other room. I pretended not to notice.

B SQUARED said...

When something like this happens, we all think we could have made a difference. The real truth is that I wonder. I do think about it and always come away confused.

BaysideLife said...

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.” ~Albert Camus

So sorry Karen. Any death is painful for those left behind. But the pain from someone choosing death is worse I think. The "why" haunts eternally.

altadenahiker said...

Mr E, that's a beautiful poem.

And all of you are right, of course. You can never figure out something like this, but it doesn't stop you from turning it over and over in your mind.

Carolynn said...

Oh crap. I'm sorry...

You were the best friend you could be. He, on the other hand, chose to eat dry toast and miss a string of sunsets he could have enjoyed in your company. Sometimes, it doesn't make sense, no matter how many ways you turn it around in your head.

*hug*

Pierre said...

We almost lost our son a couple of times. Even though he didn't succeed, there's still self blame for the attempts. I understand.

Linda Dove said...

I love your writing. Have I mentioned that lately? Not since mid-July, at least, but I'm caught up now, read them all, and...

well, I love your writing.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

yes

Virginia said...

Earl always knows the right song. He also knows a fine singer when he hears one. He put me on Susan Werner and I"m grateful.

KB, I don't have the words. I never have the right words. I count on you for that and you always do. All I can say is an inadequate, "I"m so very sorry."
Hugs,
V

Trulyfool said...

Karin,

I hope you don't think I'm callous in saying this. Almost everyone so far has expressed condolences over G's loss.

In reading this, it was irony I found. Most especially, I saw in this piece a tribute -- if you can call it that -- to the seriousness of absurdity and to the absurdity of seriousness.

What's described is a mystery, a who'd-a-figured-?. What resides at the end is meaningful survival, emphasis on 'meaningful'.

Sometimes I've cut back on what I spread on toast. That sort of caution may help 'quality of life' at the margins. What matters more is getting in tune with the ones you love. Being true to them and realizing that when you're not, you're culpable.

Whatever G's worth to you or to anyone else, what's come out of this writing is its own excellence. We know of him, we get an idea of him, only because you knew how to lay this out well.

He did exist. Your writing exists. Bravo.

Trulyfool

Anonymous said...

I see it so.

Marjie said...

I think sometimes people who are too smart, and too introspective, are never comfortable in their own skins. The smartest girl in my dearly beloved's high school graduating class, who was quiet and introspective, did the same thing your friend did. I am so sorry for your loss, which was caused by the sorrow of a mind which wouldn't even let the poor man enjoy his toast. I am happy he had a friend such as you, who remembers him some years later.

Linda said...

Sorry for your loss Karin.....remember the best and try and forget the rest. It's never easy.

Paula said...

What a good and sweet friend you are to remember him with such affection and to share his memory with all of us.

altadenahiker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
altadenahiker said...

Aren't you all wonderful people. You really really are.

The biggest loss I feel, one I'll always feel, is what G lost. On a good day, he was the funniest man I ever knew.

Pierre, I don't know what to say, except I'm glad you have your son.

And PA, yes, I know you know.

Linda, big smile. That means a whole lot to me. Thank you.

Virg, you have all the words, with the added bonus of a southern accent.

T. Fool, I love what you said. I'll frame it. And this is for Marjie too, and for G, philosophy should first dig its heel in survival before it pokes into all the dark corners.

Susan Campisi said...

Oh. I was not expecting that. I'm so sorry. Life is so fleeting, even if we live to a ripe old age. I'm sorry your friend had to shorten his. I'm sorry you're left with the ache and the wondering. It's a tribute to him that you turn that into a thing of beauty. Your writing is a gift.

dbdubya said...

Karin,

You now join a too-long list of my friends, acquaintances, and co-workers that have been touched by suicide. I've seen way too many.

It's odd, not one of your posters have even used the word "suicide." It's like we can't even say it.

I typically have two reactions upon learning of a suicide. The first is a curiosity about what could have taken someone to the depths that caused them to see no other way out. The other is anger, and that's because I know too many survivors such as yourself. Taking one's life is the most selfish act a person can make. It devastates loved ones and, as you know, it's not something the survivors ever fully recover from.

Your feelings are normal. But listen to the advice of others. You should never, ever, accept any responsibility for what G did. Grieve the loss, and accept what happened as a choice he made.

Your writing continues to amaze me. I never know what to expect, but am always either inspired, amused, or moved by what you have to say. Thank you for sharing your gift.

DBW

Virginia said...

I love ya, Sistah.
V

Bellis said...

Oh gosh, I'm sorry. Do you still think of him when you see a beautiful sunset? But db's right - it's a very selfish act that hurts so many people, though the poor depressed person doesn't see it that way. All they want to do is put an end to their pain.

Anonymous said...

It's the anger that's the worst. It has no place to go.

altadenahiker said...

DB, that's powerful stuff. And you or your staff would be the first to deal with the aftermath, both the living and the dead.

I think people shy from the word suicide for the same reason they generally say someone has "passed away," rather than dead. It skirts the brutality or the finality of it all.

I don't know what my next post will be, but I know it will be lighthearted.

patti said...

I guess suicide victims have lost all their fear and forgotten who they are. And about who loves them.

Mister Earl said...

They say that once a person makes the decision, they feel light hearted until the end. A guy in a band I'm in didn't seem to be in bad shape. At some point, he wanted to play Dylan's Knockin' on Heaven's Door every time we got together. It's a great song, fun to play. After a month or two, he killed himself. Afterwards, we never talked about the song, but we've never played it since.

dbdubya said...

One of the warning signs of a pending suicide is what Mr. Earl describes. When someone makes the decision to commit suicide, their burdens are lifted - they see a way out and appear to have found peace. Loved ones interpret this to mean the person has resolved their problem. They have, but not in the same way. Anyone who knows someone battling depression who all of a sudden seems relieved and happy, should seek assistance and advice. It may very well be time for an intervention.

altadenahiker said...

You know what? I go back to Bayside's quote, because G was a big fan of Camus, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.”

And then, what you two have said, is so true. G left a message for me, a few days before he killed himself; a euphoric message. But for the voice, it didn't sound like him at all. But I was on a job at the time, far away, and out of range.

Ok, one last thing I know about suicide. They recover bodies who jump from the Golden Gate Bridge. I've been told a large percentage have deep scratch marks on their finger tips -- implying, they changed their mind.

dbdubya said...

I don't know about the scratch marks on people who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. That's Mr. Earl's neck of the woods. I do know that there's a big gender difference in suicides. Far more women attempt suicide than men. Far more men are successful. The theory is that some women tend to do it as a cry for help. If a man decides to do it, he fully intends to succeed.

What a depressing topic. I'm looking forward to a happy one from the Hiker.

altadenahiker said...

Next one, I promise. Go jump in a lake, both of you.

Mister Earl said...

I would love to jump in one of those Mammoth Lakes! A woman at work asked me today if I was interested in deep sea fishing. I told her, "No," but I've been seeing these photos of little peaceful lakes in Mammoth, and that is tempting."

BANJO52 said...

Not much left to add. Everyone has said such good, if troubling things.

Trulyfool is especially interesting.

As always, AH, one of the factors that makes this post so effective is your spareness of style. You can turn a phrase, AND you do it with no excess of words or emotions or over-intellectualizing, all of which leads to power. "Less is more" once again. Do you know Raymond Carver's stories in Cathedral?

It would be interesting to know how long ago this happened, but I also realize that's your business.

I better quit or I'll never stop. It's good to be "wired" again. I'd hate to have missed this.

Paula said...
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Paula said...

I have a friend who is dying because of drink. He won't see us because he can't talk to us about his life the way it is - he's lost everything he ever had because of blind ambition - and I sometimes wonder if it's just that he wanted what he wanted and couldn't regroup and live a meaningful life despite it's ups and downs and with what he has been given - and that includes two fabulous children. I've gotten over the hurt of his rejection - almost.

In the past two weeks my father in law died (in part because he gave up on life and in part because he was 84 and it was his time) and a friend's husband - a saint of a man - died from organ failure. Of the three people I mention my friend's husband hurts the most because he cared so much about everyone else.

I don't think there's any easy way to die, but we can ease the suffering of the people we will leave behind by remembering that one day, yup, we will all die and then living like there's no tomorrow.

You've written a loving memorial to G, Karin. I hope you're not suffering beyond grieving.

Margaret said...

Beautifully written.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY9b6jgbNyc

Miss Janey said...

This is beautiful.

I will never understand people and their inconsistencies as long as I live.

Desiree said...

Oh, fu--in' a.
Loss and waste.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdBym7kv2IM

Pat Tillett said...

sorry to jump in so late. I think this is one of those things that is impossible to figure out, no matter how much we think about it. Still, I'm sorry that it happened and that it's troubling you.

altadenahiker said...

To put a final cap on this: It troubles me that G didn't get the long stretch of life he wanted, that he wanted on his good days. I'm fine; he's dead. That's not meant to be flippant; that's just a fact.

TheChieftess said...

I'm so sorry Karin...a very poignant exploration of the feelings left in the aftermath...

My mother's mother chose to end her own life when my mother went away to college, my mother carried the burden of feelings of guilt to the day my mother passed away at 89....

Cafe Pasadena said...

Woman's Best Friend here to tell you I'm not sure about your opening sentence.

Butt, it was an entertaining post of the way you were, nonetheless.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Wow, what a post. And what a collection of comments. As I read this, I thought "ya know, she is okay with this."

But what a road to get us there.

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