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anticipating a terrible loss

Just went for a stroll on this lovely mild evening – the magnolia, the tulips, the chartreuse buds on the trees – and stopped at one of the ‘hood’s Little Free Libraries, of which there are many, mine being one. There inside was my book “All My Loving.” Looked like the donor hadn’t even opened it – phooey. I just had to re-read it for a copyright issue and have to say, as objectively as possible which isn’t very, I liked it a lot. It’s a humorous but also serious exploration of the world in the early sixties from a 14-year old point of view, with a particular focus on that teen’s huge, life-saving love for Paul McCartney and the Beatles. 

I left the book there for the next reader. May it bring you pleasure – and perhaps a memory of a distant time. Or not so distant – it’s my hope that young people would pick up the book to know what it was like to discover that brand new English group for the first time. But as usual, in the absence of marketing, no one knows the book exists. Except whoever up the street opens the door of the little library. 

Yesterday, as I sat here looking at the garden, Madame Cardinal flew down to the big plant base filled with water I’ve put on the deck. She sipped and then bathed, splashing about, ruffling her feathers. Monsieur Cardinal flew over with something in his beak, fed it to her, and flew away. She went on bathing and he returned to feed her another treat. It was like watching a pretty lady at the spa being fed chocolates. Since they were both out and about – they’re inseparable – I assume the eggs aren’t laid yet. Unless they hired a babysitter for their big night out. More cardinals please!

It’s the Hot Docs festival, a scintillating presentation of documentaries from around the world. I’ve watched a few, the most interesting so far “Dirty Tricks,” about cheating in the world of bridge, especially absorbing because of my uncle the famous bridge player, about whom I want to write next. It turned out one of the players interviewed is the son of my friend Ruth’s friend. We arranged to talk today; he was in Las Vegas where he said it was nearly 100 degrees. Edgar Kaplan, he said, was one of his heroes from an early age. He met and played with him several times at the end of Edgar’s life, as he was dying of cancer at age 72. “He was one of a kind,” he said. “There was no one else like him.” I agreed, as I wept to remember him. To work!

Have been busy with other things, however, as is my wont. The Creative Nonfiction Collective’s conference is coming up on May 13 and there’s stuff to be done. Teaching is gearing up again, two classes Thursday, a new term starting next week and another the week after. 

And always – life. Something unusual and very difficult this week: one of my oldest and dearest friends has a fatal disease and has picked the date she will use MAID – medically assisted dying. With her doctor’s help, she will die on May 15. Everything is arranged, though she says the timing is not ideal as her friends can’t gather in large numbers because of Covid. She lives on the other side of the country; what can I do to say goodbye? I wrote her a letter about what her 51 years of friendship have meant to me. Her courage and grace are extraordinary. More weeping. 

This is something new in our world, picking the date you will, with the help of medical science, die. What a gift for her, a fiercely independent woman who did not want to become helpless and dependent. She will remain in control of her destiny until the end. 

It’s hard, though, to feel that date approaching, with its terrible, unimaginable loss for the rest of us.

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2 Responses to “anticipating a terrible loss”

  1. Theress says:

    I'm so sorry about your friend. These are strange times. But good to write and tell her what she means to you.

  2. beth says:

    Maybe this is one reason old people are so calm and wise, Theresa – there's so much loss, as people disappear one by one, that we must learn to cherish everyone and everything that's still around us.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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