The Other End of Sunset

Friday, October 14, 2011

French, and English, at the same time

Hello my OtherEnders.

It's been a while since I've felt like writing.

I can't get away

I've done some writing for work, and I've really meant what I said. I built a company that can -- and will -- save the underbanked billions of dollars. I plan on transforming an entire industry. Every minute I spend thinking about it, every new hire we make, every new product we push… they all make me more convinced that ZestCash can change the world.

But there is another part of me that writes. It's sad, it's forlorn. (And, apparently, it's redundant).

I never knew it was part of me. It first raised its ugly head when JR got sick.

That side of me is driving right now.

It's understood
that Hollywood
sells Californication
--Red Hot Chili Peppers

I described Jeanne's death here. She passed on in the afternoon of June 23rd, 2006.

// Side note: "Passed on" is such a silly way to say "died", don't you think? You get passed on an expressway, not in life, nor in death. //

When Jeanne died, I was holding her hand. I couldn't feel the minute she died, like in the movies. Her hand was cold, slightly blue, and still, even before she died. The nurse told me when she died. Just about 1:30 in the afternoon.

I didn't feel anything at first after she died. Just … quiet. Still. Not good quiet, like in a library. Bad quiet, like the stillness between a heartbeat and the next when you have hurt someone, badly, and they find out.

Then I took a handful of Ativan and went to sleep. Everyone left the next day, but our two rescue dogs were still with me. Minnie, the Dalmatian, and Tyrone, the Brown-Dog-of-Mixed-Parentage.

Back on the chain gang
--The Pretenders

Almost two years ago, Minnie started walking with her head down, below her shoulders, and dragging a foot slightly. We thought she had a back problem, so we gave her pain killers, and assumed she was just getting a bit arthritic.

Then it got worse. Much worse. Suddenly.

We did X-ray after X-ray after CAT scan after MRI … And nothing made sense. Until the doctor had the idea of scanning Minnie's brain.

Revealing a large tumor that was killing her.

// Side note: Ever since we've been a couple, SL has tucked in both dogs every night. She has a particular set of words she starts with, and ends with, and a cadence that both dogs recognized. It's a thing of beauty, light splayed across a wall from a prism in the window, the first day of spring. You should envy me for getting to hear it. //

A few weeks after we found her tumor, Minnie lay in bed next to me, with her eyes partly closed listening to SL giving her a final tuck-in. The tuck-in ended just before the vet injected poison into her front paw, stopping her heart.

I knew when Minnie died. I could feel her heart stop. And feel her postural muscles give way.

Tyrone missed Minnie a lot for a while, but then settled into his role as family guardian. He would sit between SL and anyone he didn't entirely trust. When she was pregnant, Tyrone stared balefully at SL's personal trainer every time he touched her. It was clear that he was watching.

When Elisabette was born, Tyrone changed his focus from just SL to cover our new pack member as well. He sat in the doorway to Elisabette's nursery when SL was feeding. Nobody was getting past him. His job was to protect everyone when I wasn't around, and he took that job seriously.

A few weeks ago, Tyrone started walking more slowly, his head below his shoulders. This time, we didn't think it was his spine. We found a large mass, about the size of a tennis ball, just behind his front leg.

He had cancer of the blood.

Every day, he'd get a bit slower, and have a bit more trouble getting up the stairs. But he still blocked the doorway if I wasn't there, and he still barked at the doorbell.

He wasn't going to let cancer stop him from doing his job.

Two days ago, he lay on a blanket, in our front yard, listening to SL give him his final tuck-in. He lifted his head and looked at her. As the drugs took over, he lowered his head, but didn't stop looking at her until the end.

I had my arms around him. I felt him die.

I don't like illusions
I can't see them clearly
-- Sick Puppies

// Side note: Yes, I perceive the irony of the song lyric I just wrote. It wasn't accidental. //

God, I hate cancer. It shouldn't exist. We should have cured it. Or made it a chronic but manageable disease.

We can bomb arbitrary countries back to the Stone Age, but we can't cure cancer?

It's possible we are spending our time and money on the wrong problems.

// Side note: I almost always write on long plane rides. Is it possible I don't like traveling because this part of me wants to come out? //

Sometimes a change
is not enough

I have mixed feelings about death. Odd, I know, but bear with me for a second.

I miss Jeanne. Every day. I miss Minnie. Every day. I miss Tyrone. Every minute.

For good, or for ill, the pain fades over time. It becomes less like a knife, and more like a sprain. It doesn't cause agony, but you don't especially want to stand on it.

I think that analogy stinks, but it's the best I have. Sorry.

The mixed feelings are that I got to be with Jeanne at her last conscious moment, and her last Earthly one.

I got to hold Minnie's head as she lost the ability to hold it herself whilst shedding her mortal coil.

I got to feel Tyrone's breath fading from his body. He wasn't scared. He was strong, and brave.

In my heart, I know he's chasing Minnie around now, happy as a clam to be young and healthy. But I also know he wishes he could stand between SL and the rest of the world.

// Side note: There's nobody in the window seat next to me. Which is good, since it lets me look out the window to hide my tears. Not so manly, am I, now? //

After Tyrone was gone, I had SL leave, so she wouldn't see me picking his body up.

The dead don't look like they do on TV. It turns out that postural muscles are more important to looking "alive" than you might think.

SL will go to sleep tonight, for the first time, with me traveling but without Tyrone at the foot of her bed. She will feel that same silence.

I would give just about anything to spare her that feeling.

But I can't. The first step to getting past an addiction is to admit you are powerless.

I guess I'm addicted to death. I am powerless over it.

At some point, I'll be the one passing on. Perhaps it will be on a motorcycle, with me making a mistake in traffic on the freeway. Or with some distracted soccer mom leaving me a greasy streak down the side of a road, while talking to her nanny on the phone.

Or, maybe it will be cancer. Or some other disease we could have cured if we had not chosen to invade Iraq.

I don't want to die alone.

That said, SL deserves better than to sit next to me, waiting for a nurse to tell her I'm dead. She should be sitting somewhere comfortable, watching the sun go down, with a glass of rose champagne in her hand, when some nameless, faceless functionary comes to tell her I'm dead.

And I really hope that Elisabette doesn't have to hold my hand when I die. I don't want that image in her head.

In the mass production zone

But there's nothing I wanted more than to be with JR, Minnie, and Tyrone when they died. I wanted them to know that I was grateful for their time in my life, and to offer what comfort I could.

So, perhaps I'm selling SL and Elisabette short. Or, perhaps, like Tyrone, I want to be doing my job, to the last, to protect them from what I can, shield them with my body, my heart, my soul.

Protect them from seeing Death. My death.

It's dark outside the plane now. We have outrun the sun. And, perhaps, it's time for me to put my keyboard down.

I've made myself cry. Did I make you cry? Or just make you want to go hold someone so tightly that they will always remember.

Remember the happiness, the love, the fullness. Just, maybe, for a time, feel power over death.

Bring back the sun. Or thrive in the starlight.

'cause your friends don't dance
And if they don't dance,
well, they're no friends of mine
--Men Without Hats