Tag Archives: death

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Pioneer to the falls

The first time I heard this song was in October of 2007.  I’d heard the news that my step-brother was found hanging from a tree, alone in the wilderness of Idaho that morning. I wasn’t particularly close to my step-brother but, still, the news cut deep. I was living in Spokane at the time and walked to work. It was a 45 minute walk and I’d just bought the latest Interpol album: Our Love To Admire.   I thought I’d listen to it on my way to work. The song, Pioneer to the Falls came on and there was something about the haunting lyrics coupled with the suicide of my step-brother that brought me to a sobbing mess of tears before I made it to work.

I love this song, though it doesn’t make me cry like it once did. I just think it is an incredibly beautiful song with beautiful lyrics. It evokes a story  in my soul that I can’t quite suss out completely. It is a story from a dream that is  there but not quite there at the same time.

I randomly grabbed this video off of Youtube and I  love it. It is comprised of scenes from one of my favorite films: Once Upon A Time In The West. 

Dexter

about a cat.

I received some really sad news this morning. My mom told me that her cat, Dexter, died this morning.  I am going to miss him. He was such a sweetheart. Such a cuddler. Whenever I picked him up and gave him a little squeeze he would literally hug me back. He let me hold him for a couple of minutes but then that was it. He would wiggle out of my arms and go back to whatever he was up to.

When I lived in Spokane I visited my mom often and since I don’t have pets of my own I really became close to her pets. I love animals and try to make friends with all of them whenever possible. Dexter and I were good friends for most of the time I knew him but there were a couple of years when our relationship was on the rocks. One day I was playing with him and, for some reason, I thought it would be fun to play catch with him so I threw a dog toy in his direction. The toy accidentally hit him. He was absolutely stunned. He immediately left my vicinity, shunning me entirely. For two years Dexter would leave the room when I arrived. TWO YEARS. He would have nothing to do with me.  I am not sure what I did to gain his trust back, but he finally decided that we could be friends again and he let me pick him up and snuggle him. But man. That cat held a grudge!

I am going to miss Dexter hugs very much.

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Dia De Los Muertos

I was reminded* that yesterday and today is Dia De Los Muertos. This is is very interesting because, as you know,  I found myself thinking of Gary, the boyfriend who died in a car accident when I lived in New York. It is weird that my mom sent me the photo that was taken the day I found out he died, and also weird that he died around this time of year. His birthday was also the end of October. So he has been on my mind. I feel like I should write about him more, but I don’t even really know where to start.

I remember our first date. It was summer and he took me to a party at a friend’s house. We had the best time together that night, innocent fun! Laughing and joking with each other as we had a few beers from the keg. Alphaville came on the stereo and he remarked that it was his favorite band. I’d never heard of them, so he went to the record player and put on his favorite song, Forever Young.

It kind of gives me chills that THAT particular song was his favorite, since he died two years later. But every once in awhile it will play on my iTunes and it will make me think of him, which is nice.

Along those same lines, this morning as I was walking to work, “A Song For You” played randomly on my iTunes. This song has special meaning to my mom especially, and to me since my mom told me her story about it. I only hear it if comes on randomly so when I hear it I feel like it is Doug, trying to get my attention. It was strange that it played today on my walk, but it was nice to think about my Step-father this morning as well.

I wish that American culture embraced The Day Of The Dead. It is a beautiful holiday and it is a beautiful thing to remember those who have passed over. I am glad I had these moments to think about Gary and Doug. Their stories and their spirit will forever live on.

*P.S. Go read Inge’s moving post on Pinhole Obscura!

Wayback Wednesday

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Saturday was my Uncle Will’s funeral in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Raf and I made the long drive to Spokane for the weekend. it was really good to see my family. We had a really great visit on Friday night when Raf and I finally arrived. The service was really nice, as was the reception afterward (as they all usually are. Have you ever said you’ve been to a bad funeral and reception?). At the reception I had a conversation with my mom’s friend about my cousin, Eddie. Eddie is the guy you see in the photo above. Whenever I think about Eddie think about this photo. I didn’t know him at all. Met him maybe twice in my life. He was a lot older than me. But I always thought he was a handsome guy.

I am not sure about the details  but, if I am recalling the conversation, he had been reunited with my uncle. He disassociated himself with his family for a long time (I believe, I could be getting my facts wrong) but he had been located. I thought, “Oh cool. maybe I will get to meet him again.”

Well, that will never happen because he died that very evening in the hospital. Apparently he was in the hospital.

Again, I didn’t know him so this loss doesn’t hurt like the loss of my Uncle Will. But, still, it is a blow to my family. It’s sad because he was so young and his death could have been prevented, I think. But there is nothing that can be done about that now. I only bring it up because it makes me think about myself and  my habits and it makes me wonder if I should be taking better care of myself.

Rest in peace, Eddie. We’ll meet again someday.

The bond I had with my Uncle Will.

In July of 2009 I applied for a job at a library in a small town 30 miles east of Portland that I had driven through once. I came here to interview and was delighted with the place and with the people who interviewed me. Lucky for me, the feeling was mutual. When I told my mom that I was moving to Sandy, Oregon she came back with an interesting reply, “Really? Sandy? Your uncle lived there in the 1960s. Did you know that?” No. I did not know that.

The story is that my uncle lived in the area for awhile and loved it here. Then a couple of tragedies struck the family which caused them to move down into Portland. One of those tragedies was the death of his 2 year old daughter. She drowned in a creek near the home. There was a cemetery next to his house where he buried her. I remember my uncle talking about this place a few years ago, not knowing exactly where it was. He described it as “beautiful” and mentioned that he wanted to be buried there. And also said anyone in his family could be buried there too.

When I moved here he asked me to go to this cemetery from time to time to check up on the graves of my cousins (another of his sons was buried there in 2002). I was totally happy to oblige. However, I couldn’t find it. I can’t tell you how many times I drove up and down Cherryville Road looking for this cemetery with no luck whatsoever. My uncle even drew me a map at one point and it still didn’t help. I asked people in the community about it and nobody could help me. Nobody knew it even existed! Or if they knew it existed, it existed as a kind of urban legend. This cemetery  completely confounded me.

He came to visit a year ago last July and finally took me there himself. Visiting this place will be forever marked in my history as one of the most surreal of my existence. We drove into what seemed like the dirt road of somebody’s house. We ended up at a very dense grove of trees. Very dense. it was impossible to see what was on the other side of them. Uncle Will opened the trunk of his car, grabbed some garden loppers and weed killer, handed me a pair of loppers, and walked toward a small opening of this grove. He seemed to know exactly where to go and cut a hole into the opening. I reluctantly followed him into this strange place. It was absolutely incredible. Above me was as canopy of thick Douglas Firs. Around me was moss, ivy and fern, growing all over everything. The tops of turn-of-the-century headstones  peeked out of the ivy. We bush-whacked our way to the back of the cemetery where we found the grave-markers of my cousins. They were the only graves in the cemetery that could be seen (aside from the taller headstones) because he’d been coming there every year to take care of them.

It was a beautiful summer day in July. The sun was starting to set and the light filtered through the trees and lighted the graves perfectly as we stood around the graves and said a Hail Mary. My uncle was very happy. He seemed to be at peace there. I could totally see why. I thought to myself, “This place is magical and beautiful.”

Now I knew where the cemetery was but how was I going to take care of it? It was overwhelmingly overgrown. There was no way I could compete with the Oregon Forest.

Lo and Behold, an effort was made to clean it up! Somebody who also has family buried there headed this up a year ago and since then amazing work as been done. In many ways it has brought our community together too. Lots of people who live here have been in on this project and have enjoyed uncovering history in their own backyard. I think about this effort and it blows my mind. This was a cemetery that was slowly being swallowed by the forest but it has been saved.

Yesterday I was driving to the library to run an errand. As I sat at the stoplight I had this urgent thought that I really needed to call my cousin to let him know that I am here to help him in any way. Then I burst into tears while I was sitting there. I felt the deepest sensation of grief deep down to the core of my heart. I had this profound feeling that he was gone. That he had departed from this earth. I waited for my mom to call me and tell me the news. Finally, I had to text her to check in. She told  me that he passed at 12:30. Around the same time I was thinking about him at the stoplight.

We shared this little bond, this mystery of the cemetery. I am so glad that he was able to see that the restoration effort began there. I know that made him happy.

Here is the last photo I took of him. It was taken the day he took me to the cemetery and while we were standing at his kid’s graves. It’s not a very good photo (he looks kind of crazy) but it does show how happy and excited he was to be there.

Rest in peace Uncle Will. See you on the other side.

Uncle Will