DEATH, and CHANGE (Warning: Soapbox Alert, rant included)

It’s difficult to know sometimes, when writing in this venue, exactly what I’m to write about.  I don’t know who reads all this, (well, I know a few, but I don’t think I have any particularly widespread fame or following), and I don’t want to violate anyone’s privacy by the telling of anyone else’s tales.  But sometimes they really do relate to mine.

Like now.  A good friend’s significant other has died.  A few days ago.  Heart attack.  Literally, it seems he was here one minute and gone the next.  Maybe there’s comfort to be had in the lack of suffering, but I sure hope all the appropriate things that any one of us wants and needs to hear from our various beloveds got said.  Not many do-overs in these situations.

It’s been hard for me to think on it, because it’s very close to home, and I don’t want to intrude in the goings on, but I’ll be there when the call comes.  All the girlfriends from this bunch were scheduled to have a gathering last weekend, long overdue, but plans changed in a hurry.  Now most of us sit awaiting further phone calls and information before we go to be there, and do what we can.  So I’m puttering along with more time than I thought I had to be home, and pondering on how fast things can change.

For the most part, I think we fight Change.  Maybe it’s the fear of the unknown, the devil you don’t know, all that sort of thing.  Most of the time we have a choice about things, but today the only choice my friend has is how to respond to what’s happened.  There’s no change or choice in what has already happened, and it happened fast.  Bam.

It’s a different tune for some.  I have – had – another girlfriend, now referred to when I talk about her as My Dead Friend, in what sounds like a callous kind of way that only she would understand, and laugh at.  She was the angriest person I ever knew, (perhaps except TG who got better about such things, sort of, but never really fixed anything).  For her to have had that trait makes it all the more unusual for us to have been friends, for I don’t care to have anger around me, but I never had to be the brunt of it exactly.  We had nothing in common, really.  But the crazy thing that connected us was our particular brand of dark humor.  The worst things would happen, and we would find a way to laugh about it that no one else could comprehend.  I suppose it was something like gallows humor or the caustic laughter in operating rooms to offset the tension.  She was a drinker and me not so much, although no one who saw us party together way back when would take much stock in that statement.  I guess the difference was that I quit partying like that – wasn’t really my style – and then our lives separated a lot and we didn’t get to see each other nearly as much as we used to.  She got into some stuff that really surprised me, then moved on, and then settled into the rest of her life, which I’d never really know was a compromise or not.  She got married, and it was pretty tumultuous.  She never really seemed very happy, or if something in her marriage moved in such a way that she got happier, it would change and she’d  be back to where she was.  Very disheartening.  She never quit smoking, she drank way too much, and then she gained a bunch of weight.  In most ways she hardly resembled the person I used to run with, but I still loved her dearly, even if we didn’t talk so much anymore.

I was making better efforts to drop by and see her, stopping by after I’d do a bicycle ride at the Veloway or whenever I was near her place.  She didn’t seem to get out much anymore, except to see and babysit her grandkids I guess, and that was what she seemed to live for.  Next thing we knew she had sneezed and broken a rib – WTF – and I knew then, deep down, that she was already gone.  Her family waffled around with it for a while, thinking she was maybe just drinking too much – I don’t know, I don’t think I ever heard all of the story.  But when someone finally got with her at the doctor’s she was diagnosed with cancer in several places, plus the heart problems she’d already been nursing.  I’ll never believe that she did anything but commit a slow suicide, but that’s not something you can tell all of the family.  When the terminal diagnosis was finally delivered, I understand that her response was something like:  Could you have made a mistake?  Oops, too late, sorry.

Her kids had begged her to quit smoking when they were small.  She did, for a while, but it didn’t take.  The drinking never stopped.  And I don’t know when the weight started loading on.  I guess about the time she must’ve made her choice to be really unhappy, for that was the new her.  Big and, well, whatever else it was she had morphed into.  She was still in there, and we still laughed, at the blackest things, but I didn’t get to talk to her toward the end.  She isolated, and wouldn’t take my phone calls, and the word was that she wasn’t seeing anyone – except her husband and her mother and her kids, I guess.  Not me.  I’d call, but she’d never take the phone.  And that was that.

Next thing I knew I was out in New Mexico, coming back from an art show, when the call came from one of her daughters.  She was out of time, she wanted to see me, and come as soon as I could.  I was hundreds of miles away.  By the time I got home and over to the hospice, she was already unconscious, checked out, beyond the conversation I’d wanted to have with her for so long.  I had wanted to talk to her about the journey.  I wanted to deal with the reality of it, ask questions, but I suppose that was what I wanted, not her.  I was still angry with her.  I likely still am, though it’s relegated to old files now.  She was the first close friend I’d ever lost.

Her husband choked up at her memorial “party” when he related a story of how he had asked her once what she wanted to come back as, in another life.  Her comment:   She didn’t want to come back.  She hated her life.  And so it was.  She used to say that all the time – I hate my life.  And when she said things like:  I’m not going to be around very long – the Universe sure took her up on it.  Alrighty girlfriend, pack your bags.  And she was gone, in short time, really.  Younger than I am now.  Ha Ha.  Not so funny now.  And now, the daughters smoke, and drink – a lot.  Go figure.

And so Death and Change, irrevocably linked, however it presents itself to us.  And however we conspire to make it happen.  We, us, who drive our lives, and are in charge of Change, or at least how we deal with it.

Another girlfriend told me of her experience with Change.  In that it was sort of like this, for her, one time: Oh no, not that, no, ack, nuh uh, wait, stop, no, ag, no….. Uh….huh?….hmmmmm…. Oh! As in…. Wait – maybe this isn’t so bad after all.  In fact, maybe even relief.  Maybe eventually.  I’ve recently been telling folks that my feelings about the lack of TG, (no pun intended), in my life was sort of like dealing with a headache.  It feels so good when it stops.

All of this brings me, with no attempt at an obvious segue, to:  The Oil Spill.  Sorry.  I know we don’t want to think about it.  I know we can’t stand the sight of the muck drenched birds and animals, losing the battle.  And here’s some news – we’re not even seeing them, really.  Reports abound that there are “crews” that appear and then the carcasses disappear – no evidence, you see?  (Or rather, you DON’T see.)  And that photography of all this is being prohibited, in a new form of censorship, right here in your country, folks.

In a jaw dropping case of You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, we see and hear the politicians STILL come out and make a plea for the drilling to continue, because “jobs are at stake,” and we can’t stand for there to be more economic impact.  Really?  Seriously?  This is the price we pay for Demon Oil?  Evidently we do, and we don’t seem to care much.  As long as we aren’t inconvenienced too much.  And that mess – that’s down south somewhere – doesn’t affect me.  Not much it doesn’t.  Unless you’re dead already.

I side with Bill Maher on this one, who says, “Jobs?  F**k Jobs!”  Duh, let’s finally, and for all the right reasons, make NEW jobs.  Those GREEN ones that everyone keeps talking about, but doing nothing.  Well, not everyone.  I have friends making papercrete structures and miracles happen.

What has happened to this country?  Other than the fact that we’ve become a soft, spoiled, entitled and greedy bunch, who think we’ve a right to despoil the planet and leave it dead or dying to whoever comes after us – even our children and grandchildren.  I think we are beyond conscience anymore.

We are kept complacent and PREOCCUPIED either with somehow maintaining our existence, or if we’ve managed to maintain it at costs that we refuse to consider, we’re then too busy texting or keeping up with the Kardashians or whatever reality folly is passing for entertainment on the mesmerizing television screen.  There are “enemies” out there, and they walk among us – sort of.  I can’t say as I see them much in my neighborhood, but they’re out there, making the LAWS.  Or NOT.  Their tactic:  Keep ‘em busy squawking about this and that and whatever else, (politics is always good for distraction), while the real machine toils away underneath the diversion.  What really sobered me up on this was listening to my “theories” dolled out by one of the chief conspiracy theorists of the far “way out there” faction, a fellow who I had previously mocked and derided, now only to hear him agreeing with me!  (Or I him?  How could THAT be?)  I still think he does nothing but spew stuff, and not offer any solutions, but it was a scary moment.  He scares me all the time.  But not as much as what’s happening now scares me.

I fully believe that this mess in the Gulf of Mexico, right down the road from me, actually, will put the debacle of 9-11 to shame – in enough time.  I don’t mean to diminish the impact of what happened then, but this event is going to haunt us for lifetimes.  We are killing an entire ecosystem.  We watch the bubbling caldron on live feeds until it becomes meaningless to us.  We get used to it.  We get bored by it.  We get tired of hearing about it.  And meantime no one does crap about it.  We (they, BP, whoever is “in charge”) refuse, REFUSE!, the offers of help from other nations and sources, somebody that might actually know something and make a difference, and the main concern seems to be about the bottom line of profits and PR.

I’m getting to be an old broad.  Social Security, (if there’s such a thing left), is not so far away.  And way back when, they used to teach in the schools.  So I know that a long, long time ago, when my parents were younger, they saw this country CHANGE overnight when it was “right” to stop the madness in Europe and retaliate against the attack on Pearl Harbor.  (I know, there are conspiracy theories about that, too, and the profits that come from war, but I’ll attempt to let that alone for now.)  But this country was retooled, virtually overnight, and factories were restructured to produce what was needed to rise to the cause.  Of course, now we don’t have so many factories – they’ve all been sent overseas – so what do we retool?  I don’t know, but something’s got to give here.  Other nations are light years ahead of us when it comes to energy and transportation, while we pay, pay and PAY, in ways that we are just now able to SEE, really see, for sucking at the oil tit.  It is cruel, and it is evil.  And we, and yes I, still pull up conveniently to the pump, and nudge the switch on the AC when it gets too hot.

But I marched against nuclear and petrochemical power in the 80’s.  The eighties!  That was 30 years ago!  Do NOT tell me that in thirty years we could not have come up with something to utilize the power of the sun and the wind and geothermal energy in order to save and serve our precious planet, instead of exploiting it, and destroying it, which is just what we’re doing folks. Kiss the Gulf goodbye, and it’s spreading.  Don’t eat shrimp?  Well, not your problem then, or you can easily do without it, right.  Pelicans?  Nah, not in my backyard anyway.  And I can do without fish, too.  Well, you’d better start figuring out what else you can do without, like air and water maybe.  Or just continue to live your safe little life, insulated against what’s really happening in the world, on the planet, in order for you to sustain your little bubble.  What’s really happening:  Death, muck, disease, war.  I forget what happened to Hope.

But I do not forget what I said a long time ago in this blog, in that what I tell everyone else, I need to hear myself.  All this goes for me, too.  Big time.

Sorry for the rant.  Death lays Truth at our doorstep, to be picked up like the morning paper.  My friend lost her partner.  I lost a best friend.  And we are losing our planet.  It’s all interconnected, and we all are breathing the same air, and drinking the same water, unless the spill hasn’t quite made it to your neighborhood.  But maybe a neighbor’s son, or daughter, has died in the wars for oil.  Oh, and by the way, they “just” discovered valuable minerals in Afghanistan.  What a coincidence.

All I’m saying is Love Your LIfe.  Love your people.  Tell them, now.  It can all change in an instant.  (Or a slow, or maybe not so slow death.)  Ask my friend.  Ask the pelicans.  And if it’s possible that you can make a difference, (and it is), make it.  You have a voice.  Use it.  I’m wondering if having a vote really means a damned thing.

Stepping off the soapbox.  We’ll see what I can find to talk about next.

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One Response to “DEATH, and CHANGE (Warning: Soapbox Alert, rant included)”

  1. Well Dear – about all I can add to that is Amen!

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