Saturday, February 28, 2009

What we know

Some smart person somewhere said that a miracle is that which inspires faith. Many of you are already aware that my own stockpile of faith has been under serious assault since like, um, 2006, year of the bitchening. Life has been... rugged. And not at all scenic.

Yet another terrible and unexpected thing has happened, as you know: Bob, of Bob and Kate's Asylum for Wayward (Middle-Aged) Women, died this week. Of all the things I thought might happen today, Bob leaving us was in the basement. I knew he was feeling unwell but I never thought that he might be checking out.

I moved here out of necessity; I was absolutely broke after my own father died, and Bob and Kate agreed to this arrangement because they had room for another person and they thought I could be of some help. Well, I have been here three months. I have helped, I guess. Somewhat. For the most part, however, I have felt unequal to giving Bob and Kate the kind of help they really need. Bob needed someone to be available to help him 24/7. Kate needed someone to tie up loose ends and errands for her so she could care for Bill.

I did the best I could. Often I felt my best was not good enough. Many times I wondered how all this would turn out.

Shame on me. If I had been paying any kind of attention, I would have known that Bob wasn't well. If I had any kind of sense, I would see that Kate is well and able bodied and Bob was in a wheelchair. I would have seen Bob sleeping 16 hours a day and I would have noticed how little he ate.

I didn't notice any of these things because I wrongly believed that I had met my death quota for some uncalculable amount of time. DUH. And yet the DUH factor has left me feeling detached and philosophical about Bob's death, even though I feel on some level absolutely sick about it.

And then last night I came back from the funerary planning session to find that in fact, I can have two people I adore die in the same week. Lisa left us late last night.

And when I got that piece of news I cried until my contacts popped out like shrinky dinks. I have tried to explain to people who I am crying over and it all comes out wrong. "She was a person who I never met but she was awesomely funny and smart and gorgeous and wise and well, perfectly excellent. I never met her. But I want her back. Very. Badly."

No one knows this feeling except for other bloggers. My brother and his wife find it distressingly post-modern and hopelessly dorky that I have friends I have never met that I count among my top echelon of most beloved people. My in person friends who don't blog just stare at me blankly. Then they say something to the effect of: "Hold up. We went to college together. I knew you when you used to do upside funnels at frat parties. I have cleaned up your vomit. How is she like, in my weight class, friend wise?"

And I can't explain that. At least for today, I am too teary eyed and distracted. And then part of me still thinks it can't be true because I already had someone die THIS WEEK.

What the f? Seriously.

If you are of the praying kind, just say something, anything to the almighty. Say something about Bob. Say something about Lisa. Each of them were excellent examples of holding up gracefully under terrible circumstances and both, for me, inspired faith in the most rocky and unlikely territory. That makes each of them, in their different ways, a miracle.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mixed News

Three nights ago, the boiler (sort of) exploded and silty water spewed all over the basement floor. By the time I caught it, the flood was an inch high. (I would have photographed this disaster for you had I clearance to violate the privacy of Bob and Kate's basement). (I don't).

So Bob and Kate's daughter and I spent some uncalculated number of hours doing the hazmat dance in her parents' basement. Then we got tired of hazmatting around and left the rest to be dealt with later this week.

Only later this week, as in right now, got exciting and busy is a way that no one wanted it to. Somewhere in the Monday time frame, we learned that Bob was not feeling well and that he and Kate would be returning from their vacation early so that he could see his own doctors. At the time I thought this an odd choice. Why fly all the way back to the U S of A just to get some antibiotics and a blood culture? Don't they have that stuff over yonder?

Well, duh. Leave it to me to miss the main point, which was, of course, that his condition was so serious that they did not think he would survive without the aid of his own team of doctors.

The "duh" factor was of course the main obstacle to me fully comprehending what all was said to me two days later, when my friend called me to tell me that her father had died. Of an infection. While awaiting medical evacuation.

Folks, I still don't have my head wrapped around this, but I have just enough brain damage to remember what today is like for people who loved Bob, in particular his daughter. So I am doing what I can: answering phones, taking messages, running the vacuum cleaner, sweeping up the crumbs, and hoping I can do something, anything right for the many family and friends who are grieving.

If you consider how often we, the friends of the deceased, feel like we just wish desperately that there were something we could do, I feel incredibly grateful to be in a position to do something for the family, even if it is just answering the phone and putting fresh flowers in the all the vases. Oh and casseroles. Making a lot of those, too.

Now that I am at the bottom of this post, I realize that the title makes no sense. There is nothing "mixed" about death. So the mixed part, if there is one, is that for at least right now, I don't feel helpless and ineffective. This feeling is not likely to persist, but I will take it for now.

Rest in peace, Bob. You are deeply loved.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nina is naked

Ok, not really.

But take a look anyway:

I left here some number of months because I feared I could not speak the truth about the day to day everything going on in my life without injuring others and bringing Nina (who is, after all, me) into personal relationships with readers - and finding myself by way of such conduct - unable to live up to whatever it was I thought Nina was. I felt unequal to the challenges I saw looming ahead if I continued to write here.

That feeling of inadequacy, more rightly called ineptitude, was easy to spot (and easy to despise) when I held my own blog up against those of people who did not work so desperately hard to maintain anonymity or privacy - in other words, people grown up enough to lay it all out there and say "take it or leave it." I love their blogs and I admire their transparency. In no particular order:

Neil Kramer, famed author and standard bearer for our beloved Citizen of the Month. Neil is,first and foremost, a wonderful writer. To prevent myself from rambling further, let me say that Neilochka is what we who despair of ever finding such call a good man. Go instantly and give Neilochka the worship that is his due.

What can I say of Avitable? I have knitted the gentleman one sock - and declared it not nearly pretty enough for his excellent left (or right) foot. So I still owe Adam a pair of handmade socks. I have committed other crimes against Adam that I will not describe here. What I love most about Avitable (aside from his extremely forgiving nature) is his openness. Those of you familiar with avitable know that what you see if what you get when you read Adam's blog. He writes about any and everything and somehow manages to protect his marriage and his business from the becoming involved in the blog. I resoundingly failed at doing what he seems to do effortlessly.

Everything I just said about Adam, I want to say about Lisa. If you have followed her story, you know she is fighting cancer for the third time, and doing so in a heartbreakingly public way. And yet she, like Adam and like Neil, has managed to share her life with other people while still protecting her privacy and that of her family. Lisa's time left is limited, but she has Karl (also an excellent blogger) updating her blog. Go see these excellent folks and appreciate their greatness.

I thought I would never return here, but I do so now. Naked. (Sort of). Why? Mostly because it is time for me to grow up and take responsibility for what I have to say online. If people get pissed or run screaming away from my internet diary... *yawn. * It can't be nearly as tragic as I previously imagined. In any case, if my cover gets blown or someone figures out where I work or where I live, hell with it. I ain't Princess Diana. It's simply not that important. The blog is mine and I belong to the blog and I'll take whatever consequences arise, whatever they turn out to be.

Summary: I am back. Long time no see. I have missed you. How have you been?