Saturday, October 29, 2011

All Hallow's

This morning I went for a run, the mile or so to our town's little park+lake. It was 37 degrees when I left? Frosty and I was bundled. The lake is surrounded by woods--tall tall trees and legit wild life. I got to the park and there were a group of people in running clothes hula hooping (what? and *love*), I didn't join in (though there were offers and extra hula hoops) but ran instead along the trail that is, apparently, a cross country skiing trail in the winter. I was running into the sun, but the weeds were still covered in frost. I scared a couple of deer that were 20 feet ahead of me on the trail another 15 feet off the trail where they watched me run by. Then the trail narrowed so I started walking. I paused at a spot on the lake shore where the water was so glassy it looked like if I jumped in (which I considered momentarily--it would be ok if I had dry clothes waiting, right?) I would fall into the sky. I watched two dozen geese floating on the water, then swimming, then calling to each other.

And it was so lovely and so perfect.

Tonight it's chilly (which for the moment feels bracing and wonderful) and smells like woodsmoke and the moon is slivered and smokey and...I guess the moral of the story is that I love the fall. And I live in an absolutely perfect place. And EB White: eat your heart out. :) And, when I get my iPhone, won't you all feel lucky?

Love love love,

Monday, October 24, 2011


I feel like I post a lot about my dad here. Which I feel ok about because I don't journal so faithfully as I used to. Which I feel sort of sheepish about because I like to think I'm sort of a private person (sort of) and I'm worried I lean toward, like, LiveJournal-esque emo blogging. So the disclaimer: this isn't cheery or entertaining. And also, I'm not looking for sympathy.

My dad died a year ago tomorrow. I came back from teaching the evening class (which was ended exactly this time that Monday evening) to an urgent sounding message from Alex who worked with Dennis that I should give them a call. I did: Dennis was in the hospital. He had collapsed at work and he was taken in an ambulance to the hospital downtown. I was flustered at this point, but not sure how to feel: I knew he'd spent some time admitted a couple of months before (we found out after the fact, incidentally, and I was hurt and furious about that. Selfish bastard), so figured that either it was nothing at all and they'd called because they were more worried than he was, or it was a real-life emergency, which I wasn't really ready to think about and decided to try not to panic in case it turned out to be nothing.

I called Rachel who lives in Sandy to go check it out: she's  my oldest sister and the one who lives closest to Salt Lake. She said she'd take Randy (husband) and go and let us know. (This is such a perfect scenario, can I say? Rachel coming to save the day? Rachel doing the hard thing. It was 95% convenience, but, really, what would *I* have done?)

So. James came to pick me up from the office. We ate Subway (distractedly) in the Cougareat. Jeremy called me--apparently he'd heard not from Rachel but from his friend whose other distant friend (who we'd never met) was Dennis's emergency contact (again, I was so mad).

I was waiting for an FHE in the library to start when Randy called to tell me Dennis was gone. Because he's a great brother-in-law and a great husband. I didn't cry, but told Christina who was hosting FHE who hugged me, and gathered my things and told James we had to go to Salt Lake and we went.

Have I written this? He was dead when he got to the hospital. Apparently his coworkers left him in his office to have a meeting and when they got back (half an hour later? More?) his heart wasn't beating. There was a doctor passing by who administered CPR till the ambulance came, but there wasn't any sign of anything. This seems like the most tragic part, right? And one I hesitate to think about not because it's miserable, but because part of me wants to turn it into a poem or an essay, some morbid imagining of my dad's last moments, my dad dying alone.

I was the first one, after R&R, at the hospital. There were hugs, and Rachel told me they gave her Dennis's wallet which made her cry. And I went to go see the body, which was mostly weird and purple and foreign. I don't think I touched him, or not much. Rachel was very sweet and contemplative, rubbing his forehead in a way I could never imagine happening in real life.

James was there the whole time, the whole week in fact, taking time off work to hang out with the family, or to sit close, or to let me cry as we sat alone in Dennis's empty apartment. What a good man I got.

Anne got there half an hour later or so, with another round of Diet Cokes and bustling with competent energy. We spent a lot of time laughing that night, a lot of time planning and talking through details. We waited for Melissa to get down from Rexburg and Jeremy from Boise and fended off the ED nurse who needed the room (now that I have a better sense of how highly in demand ED beds are I feel a little bad). And it was really delightful and tender and difficult.

PostScript: I only cried once the week of Dennis's funeral. And it was kind of intense, but didn't feel real still? I have pangs of emotion--I wrote about preparing for the wedding. When we discuss emergency contacts at work or Epic's neat functionality triggered by marking a patient as 'deceased' or when a dummy patient's last name is Borzoi I get twinges of sadness or anger or regret.
And right now I'm feeling sort of low--or part of it at least is that I can look back from this distance and recognized how hard that was to get through. How Dennis' death marked the beginning of one of the most challenging (in a thousand ways. and wonderful) years of my life. And my family's life. I feel ok that only now am I beginning to let myself know what his death means and meant and how his life shaped mine. I guess moving toward accepting the fact that I'm a slow reactor when it comes to emotional things. It takes some thought and some time to figure out how I feel.

And. I guess I want to say, too, how wonderful everyone was. Rachel and Randy organizing with the mortuary and other hard adult-y things, Jeremy taking care of all of Dennis' accounts and documents--breaking into Dennis' email (finally--I've told this story? His security question was "who's your favorite author" and we only had 5 guesses every 12 hours and that puzzle punctuated the funeral week), Anne doing the details--getting the burial outfit together, etc times 1000, Melissa finding a spot for Dennis' skittish spoiled wolf hound. And the extended family. And my grandmother. And Connie. And my great friends who came to the funeral and washed my dishes and brought dinner and put up with me moping.

So. Tomorrow I think James and I will honor Dennis by buying some flowers and eating something delicious. I hear the Utah crew are planning honors graveside (I miss them/wish I were there). And that is the end.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

High strung a touch?

James suggested we start watching The Walking Dead--apparently we'd never had the "I'm not great with scary movies" discussion. Even though I couldn't make it through the first episode (we finished it and the second the next day. In the early evening. When it was still light outside) I couldn't stop thinking about it. It's haunting, and not in a Halloween-y way, in a really human, gripping, emotionally rich way. And while the bits of other episodes I've seen since we started haven't wowed me as much as the first (there are just excruciatingly beautiful moments there), I will probably keep watching or at the very least making James relate detailed synopses. Also, it's gotten me thinking, mostly about apocalyptic crises. And about zombies:

For instance. I'm not sure I buy the wide-spread zombie apocalypse scenario. For a couple of reasons. First, zombies are voracious. There's a very graphic/beautiful image of a zombie feeding frenzy that includes frantic grabbing for entrails which makes me wonder how often it could happen that you get bitten and not eaten. And the virus or whatever isn't airborne, it's bite-borne, which means there isn't really an uncontrollable epidemic to worry about. And all the chaos was supposed to go down in a couple of weeks, which seems unlikely--I can see it spreading, but not quite so quickly? Maybe I'm just trying to intellectualize the thing because, man, that show's real creepy. So good at suspense.

In other apocalyptic news: I feel really lucky to have a good job. There is no reason I should and it's awesome.

Fall in Mt. Horeb is gorgeous--lots of chilly sunny days and leaf burning. And I have big plans for dinner tomorrow (homemade graham cracker ice cream s'mores anyone? And parsnips a la Mark Bittman? I love Sunday).