terra firma, rich fabric

Last night I had conversations with four of my oldest and most valued friends.  I wish we didn’t have the reason that we all talked, but that we did made me feel better than I had in the twenty-four hours previous.  I hope that was the case for all of us.  Mostly for Denis, because on New Year’s Day he lost his dad. 

I’d been feeling blue about it on a number of levels.  Mostly because someone I love is torn up; he’s been hit, unexpectedly, with life’s cruellest circumstance.  His dad was a really lovely man; a husband in a seemingly inseparable partnership, a good father and pépé and neighbour and respected teacher and now he’s gone.  

If I’m not censoring (it’s a start, Lisa), I’ll tell you that this is one of the two situations in the past year that threw my own mortality in my face.  Hard.  It sounds so selfish.  My heart is truly with my friend, but a feeling of scared came swift and forceful.  A parent is only one generation away. 

I have all my parents – and none seems like s/he is going anywhere soon.  But I got scared about losing them.  They’re still too young.  Like Denis’s dad.  He shouldn’t have gone yet; his family’s hearts shouldn’t be heavy now.  And yesterday evening I was wondering how to move out of the sudden funk – how could I call my friend and be supportive and somehow make it a little better when I felt like I was teetering on some thin emotional wire; psychically a piece of shit?

And then after supper I talked to Debbie.  And then Denis.  And then Robbie.  And then Lynn.  And at the end of the evening I was back on terra firma.  I’m sure it’s because each of them were part of the journey to now.  Last night I'd got away from the moment and they brought me back to it.   

We all exist here in this unstoppable march of time and we all have to face it, and most of us deal with loss when it happens and maybe we don’t get over it but we learn to move on and to be happy again even if there is a new hole in the family’s fabric.  But then again, isn't the fabric richer and more beautiful for that person having been a part of it?

The fabric is precious and beautiful and it’s all any of us has.  And I’m not that articulate, but I’m sure it’s pretty much the point of it all. 


  1. Reply
    Mike January 4, 2012

    I have come to the conclusion that when someone very close to you passes they are not gone, they are now with you all the time.
    I guess they become more a part of your personal fabric.

  2. Reply
    Carol January 4, 2012

    Death is such a difficult thing to deal with…it makes us face our own mortality and that of those around us. I don’t think its strange that your experienced that panic. When my husbands Mum passed away I went through exactly the same thing when I thought of my own parents.
    All you can do is let the Denis know that you care, that you share his pain and that you are there if he needs you and I know that is what you will have done.
    I always struggle knowing what to say and try and find the best words…but there are never ‘best words’ are there?
    I like what Mike said.
    *hugs* both to you and to Denis.
    C x

  3. Reply
    Jennifer January 4, 2012

    I would agree with that Mike. Nicely said.

  4. Reply
    Jennifer January 4, 2012

    Thank you Carol. And for the record, Den did say that just calling, just talking for a few minutes WAS a help. I guess we can all be comforted in knowing that.

  5. Reply
    Susannah January 4, 2012

    I was only 22 when my Dad died, it split my world apart and sent me off on a trajectory that wouldn’t have been if not for that event. That splitting open of my shell, was the making of me. It became a journey I had to live through and in hindsight I can see that it was only something that difficult, that painful, that could have forged the ‘me’ that I became.
    Life and death are two sides of the same coin, as natural as breathing. But so so sad when it is time to say goodbye to those we love. I can understand the fear. A huge hug for you and for your friend Denis too. x

  6. Reply
    Jennifer January 4, 2012

    Susannah, that was most beautifully expressed. Thank you, friend. xo

  7. Reply
    Sheryl January 5, 2012

    Not that articulate? Jen…you were beautifully articulate. I’ve imagined losing my parents and felt a wrenching pain that I can escape because it is not yet a reality, but I know it’s only a matter of time. I find myself waffling back and forth after I’ve lost someone dear between being thankful I was able to have their joy in my life and selfishly wishing I had more time…hard to fill certain holes…

  8. Reply
    Jennifer January 5, 2012

    I waffle too… I suppose we all do. Thank you my friend. xo

  9. Reply
    Susan Tiner January 5, 2012

    I lost my father in 2001 and faced the emotional death of my relationship with my mother over the last couple of years, so death seems like an old friend now. I have always felt peace walking among ruins, experience losses already borne as peaceful ruins. The thought of losing even more loved ones is very, very hard to bear. I want to go first. My own death does not worry me. But I know there will be more losses, more ruins, and hope I will have the strength to bear them, to regain peace.

  10. Reply
    Jennifer January 5, 2012

    Susan. Thank you for sharing that. I have walked among the ruins and felt peace, too. I’m feeling pretty confident both you and I will be okay. Peace, friend. xo

  11. Reply
    Steve capelin January 9, 2012

    Yes to the ‘life’s fabric’ observation; sadly it gets harder as it gets closer and life’s fabric wears a bit thinner with each passing – sadness at the loss and recognition that your time is inevitably approaching. No time like the present to start a new project (365 days….). My rider on that would be that one still needs to relax and enjoy the ride rather than panic and rush around trying to experience everything at breakneck speed. Are you familiar with that syndrome?

  12. Reply
    Jennifer January 10, 2012

    Well, sort of Steve – now and then I experience a sense of panic about things I’m not experiencing, and that I BETTER GET GOING. But I think I’m also pretty good at letting experience find me. I hope the photo project will be representative of that.

  13. Reply
    Lisa Golden January 10, 2012

    I’m so sorry for your friend’s loss. Under similar circumstances, I had a reaction like yours. When my husband’s mother died in 1992, it was a huge shock to me. His father had died when Doug was 18 and I didn’t get to meet him. But when my mother-in-law died suddenly in her sleep at 57, it brought my own parents mortality into clear focus.

  14. Reply
    Jennifer January 10, 2012

    This reality is something we all live with reasonably well, for the most part. We have to! But now and then it hits us forcefully with events like this, doesn’t it?

  15. Reply
    Selma January 16, 2012

    I’m sorry to hear about Denis’ Dad. And you’re right – it does bring us face to face with our own mortality. My Dad is about to begin radiotherapy for cancer this week and I am agonising over the outcome. It is very sobering.

  16. Reply
    Jennifer January 17, 2012

    Selma my thoughts and prayers are with you and your Dad for a successful treatment. And warm hugs. xo

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