Distancing from Darkness

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received several hand-written notes. These were all personalized acknowledgements of what Mary and I have been going through since Mark was killed on January 21. Often, they touched on the difficult time that this person had in reaching out and the struggle for words that adequately addressed what they thought we are going through.

When people that know you don’t respond, it only compounds the grief and loss that you are feeling. That’s been my experience anyways in not hearing from people that I assume know that we lost our only son—and that we are walking through a valley and have been for more than two months.

As Linda Andrews writes in her lovely and pertinent book about grief and loss, Please Bring Soup To Comfort Me While I Grieve,

When it comes to the topic of grief, many people are uncomfortable and unprepared to know what to say or do. Some people try to say the right thing and others just avoid the whole situation. The effect on the person who is grieving is devastating; feelings of pain, hurt, anger and disappointment prevail. People who are grieving are not in a position to understand this flaw in the human spirit. Continue reading

Being Present

Losing someone you love, as Mary and I loved Mark, creates a holeone that beckons to be filled. We were a close knit unit of three, now reduced by a third. Percentage-wise, the number is 33, Mark’s age at his death. This is merely another random detail aggressively forced upon us by the universe, without solicitation, or any offer of negotiation, let alone any thought for our welfare or benefit.

Our experiences as brand new members of the Grieving Parents Club have helped us to learn firsthand to understand why parents that have lost a child unexpectedly would look for ways to assuage their pain and the waves of grief that threaten to swamp them. We also live in an age where there are a host of pharmaceutical remedies and of course, there’s always the option of legal self-medication, too.

Someone that I don’t know that well, but who offered me some unexpected kindness and empathy this week, shared a bit of his own story about members of his family and how they chose to deal with the grief of losing a teenage son 20 years ago. The mother drank herself into alcoholism and the father tried to cope by filling their garage and yard with “toys” of all shapes and sizes. Neither of those were solutions capable of bringing their son back to them. Fortunately, they were able to find a more positive approach further along in their own journey along grief’s highway. Continue reading

A Purple Friday

The obvious thing to write about today if I was following the herd, would be the death of Prince, the great purple one. Actually, I will follow the masses today, as I did want to touch briefly on the sudden end to his music career.

In terms of music coming out of Minneapolis (Prince’s hometown) in the 1980s, I was a fan of The Replacements and Hüsker Dü. I knew of Prince, but he was too commercial for my tastes at the time. In terms of popularity, he tended to curry favor with the mainstream music crowd that I looked upon with disparagement.

According to Wikipedia, Prince sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all-time. I knew he was popular, but didn’t know his sales were that substantial.

I always enjoy catching Purple Rain, whenever it runs in the loop of B-fare movies that show up across cable television. There’s something about him that obviously resonated with his followers. For me, his appeal was that of observing a prodigious musical talent, but from a distance. Prince’s death is similar for me in many ways to David Bowie’s—if you knew anything about music, you never were not aware of either Prince, or Bowie.

Prince is frozen in Purple Rain in my memory.

Prince is frozen in Purple Rain in my memory.

Continue reading

Randomness #1

After more than 12 years of blogging, I’m not sure what it is that I want to write about anymore. For more than a decade I’ve written about books, politics, self-help, workforce development, aging—and a host of other topics. Lately, I’ve been posting frequently about America’s spiral downward towards something less than we are as a nation. Honestly, I don’t know what we’ll be as a nation  in another five years, let alone 20. I’m guessing I won’t be enamored with the visual.

I don’t want to write about that today. Politics is off the table, too—I’ve decided to take a break from weighing-in on anything political.

Sports is a topic that many people like to talk and debate. These days, it often seems like the flipside of politics, at least in the greater-Boston market.

So for today, I’ll just pick a few random things I’ve observed over the past week. Continue reading

Paying My Respects

In 2013, a friend passed away before he and I were able to schedule one final visit. He was a man I had come to consider a mentor, as well as a friend.

He had given advanced warning that his time was winding down—he’d been diagnosed with cancer—and had urged me not to “wait too long.” Foolishly, I treated him like another appointment on my calendar and when I found out he had died and I’d even missed the celebration of his life, I felt like a total heel.

The post I wrote honoring him back in April, 2013, touched on some of these things, but really didn’t do his life and influence justice. Rarely is it possible to perfectly capture one’s life in a blog narrative. So why do it?

Writers write, and often, we process through our craft. Continue reading