Here's some of what I've been thankful for this week:
- Kam. She's been amazing. Strong and capable, holding me when I break down, doing all the driving, helping sort through papers, holding my hand. I can't imagine what this would be like without her here.
- My family. They've also been amazing, especially my brother Jay and his wife Holly. Watching them in action is really impressive—at times when my inclination is to go hide under a bed for a few weeks, they just pick up the phone and get things done, sounding incredibly professional and calm throughout.
- The support of lovers, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, even random strangers. Thank you all. Your notes and calls and offers of help and sympathy and condolences have helped a lot to me keep going through this.
- The neighbor who called 911 when he saw the fire next door at something like 4:30 a.m. If he hadn't done that, the fire would probably have burned down the whole house (and possibly neighboring houses) and we might never have known what happened.
- Pretty much everyone I've interacted with since Tuesday morning in any capacity. The detective, the prosecutor, the funeral-home guy, the woman who runs the coffee shop down the block from the courthouse, random customer-service people on the phone, people at motel desks, restaurant waiters. Almost everyone I've interacted with since Tuesday has been friendly, helpful, sympathetic, kind, and all-around great. I've never had such good customer service before—and this is often from people who don't know there's anything bad going on.
- Susan and Karen, who've done more of my magazine-related work in three days than I could've done in three weeks.
- Cell phones. This week would have been even more of a nightmare if not for the fact that Jay and Holly and Kam and I and several of the uncles and cousins all have cell phones, which we've been using pretty much all day every day. I wish we'd gotten a picture of Jay holding two cell phones the other day.
- Starbucks. I never thought I would be thankful for Starbucks, but I've been getting a bagel and some orange juice each morning, and an Internet connection most nights, at the Starbucks just across the freeway from where we've been staying. (Sort of where we've been staying, that is. For complicated reasons, we've actually been in a different motel room every night.) It took us a while to find this one—the first one we found that had wireless was only open 'til 8:30 p.m. But this one's open 'til 1 a.m., which is nice even though we haven't had any need for it that late. The address is 1723 S 72nd St, in Tacoma, just off I-5. (Sadly, it doesn't show up in Google Maps if you search for Starbucks in Tacoma, WA.) (Btw, my father—a longtime Robert Anton Wilson devotee—would've been thoroughly tickled by the "1723" part of the address, especially given that it's just off I-5.) We've also gotten Internet access from a Kinko's (free because we didn't print anything) and the Tacoma Public Library (free because we used our own computers instead of theirs, but we had to agree not to send or receive email using their service for security reasons).
- Sleeping drugs. Tuesday night I was sleepy enough to sleep without 'em, but woke up after about 5 hours. Wednesday night I took Ambien and was out like a light for 7 or 8 hours, though as before with Ambien I didn't feel as thoroughly rested afterward as I would've hoped. Last night I took NyQuil, which gave me a good 6 hours of restful sleep—and somehow, thankfully, let me sleep through the shouting altercation in the next-door motel room that woke up Kam at 1:30 a.m.
- The indications that life goes on. Ellie & Dana's daughter Esther is home from intensive care and seems to be doing well, by all reports. I got an email request from the editor of Karaoke Scoop E-zine to reprint a journal entry of mine from 2001 titled "Billy Ray who?", about a disastrous karaoke evening with co-workers. The coffee-shop woman near the courthouse was celebrating her 40th birthday. People all around are going on with their lives. When my mother died, when I was twelve, I hated that—I wanted the world to "stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone," though I didn't know the Auden poem at the time. I wanted everything to stop so the world could mourn properly. This week, though, it's been obscurely comforting to see that the world hasn't entirely ended.
- Small children. My cousin Jordan has a young son, Carter, who's been keeping us all entertained, to the extent that's possible this week, with his antics. Other little kids keep waving at me, or smiling at me, or just generally being adorable. It helps.
- In a very small way, Kim Possible. Kam and I rented a DVD last weekend, and we brought it along on this trip just in case we needed something light and fluffy to watch. When I finish this, we're gonna go watch some of it. I could really use some light and fluffy tonight.
I'm sure there's lots more to mention (and if I managed to leave anyone out, as seems likely, please accept my apologies), but I'm running down. I realize I haven't been talking here so much about how I've been feeling; I've been a total wreck. I think my family thinks I'm being strong and stoic, because the timing of my breakdowns has been such that I haven't really broken down in front of them, but I've been falling apart pretty regularly once or twice a day. Kam's been mostly bearing the brunt of that. Anyway, there's a lot that I'm not going into in this journal, and probably won't ever talk about here; just letting you know that my relatively calm journal entries aren't necessarily accurate reflections of internal state.
Today was mostly more stuff about the house. We found various interesting and/or useful papers, including a letter dated a year ago to my father from my half-sister (the one I've never met; a long story, that I think I've probably recounted elsewhere) with pictures of her infant daughter. I'm an uncle (or at least a half-uncle) (and my father was a grandfather!) and I didn't even know it! (Unfortunately, we haven't yet been able to get in touch with my half-sister about this week's events. We're still trying.)
Tomorrow late morning is the memorial gathering—I would say "service" but it won't be officially religious (though certainly various family members are religious). I brought my suit, so I'll probably wear that, but my uncle Dobe is bringing tie-dyed T-shirts for people to wear if they want to, so I'll probably wear one of those under the suit jacket. It would be very appropriate.
I've got more house stuff to do tomorrow, so I won't be coming home with Kam tomorrow evening. I'll stay either in the Tacoma motel or with Debby & John in Seattle, depending on whether I feel like being alone or not. (It would be nice to see Rose, who I think is big enough now that I can no longer call her Baby Rose; I think she would cheer me up.)
I'll leave you (for tonight) with three quotations:
"Shared pain is diminished; shared joy is increased."
I don't know how Peter felt about that line; note that he didn't tell anyone in the family that he had a granddaughter. But Peter loved Spider Robinson's work (and just last week I had occasion to send email to Spider, for unrelated reasons, for the first time), and the line seems appropriate this week. We're putting it on the mini-program for tomorrow's gathering.
"And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
We're putting the Modern English version of that on tomorrow's program too. I have no idea whether Peter was familiar with the line; I don't recall him ever talking about Chaucer. But it certainly fits Peter's life.
"Combat the toadies of oligarchic imperialism! (Cha-cha-cha.)"
That one's not going on the program, but it's something Peter wrote on the chalkboard on the wall of our living room when Jay and I were kids. I had forgotten all about it, but Jay quoted it the other day. Knowing Peter, I imagine he meant every word of it—but I imagine he also just liked the sound of it.
Okay, that's enough for tonight. More, no doubt, eventually.