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Survivor Journals

Bob of If I Die Before I Wake has invited nine journallers to participate in a Cyber Survivor Adventure.

Every couple of weeks, the group will be issued a "challenge entry". The site will post a excerpt from the challenge entries, as well as the link to the complete entry found on the journaller's own journal site.

After the challenge entry is posted, the nine journallers will vote one of the writers off the site.

The "ousted" journaller will actually remain on the site, but rather than posting further challenge entries, they will act as a judge and commentator.

The first challenge entry has been issued, and can be found at the Survivor Journal website. The actual entries should be completed by
October 1, 2000.

Please take the time to visit, especially once the challenge entries are posted. There is a message board to post your thoughts/comments and also a instant poll where visitors can vote for who they would want to see kicked off the site.

The reasons behind Survivor Journals are simple.

1. To try something new.
2. Increase the interaction of the journal community.
3. The challenge.
4. Increased exposure to all journals involved.

So take a look around, explore all the journals involved.

If you would like to take part in Survivor Journals, Year Two, let Bob know!


November 27, 2000

Today Al Schroeder and his family are marking the one year anniversary of the death of their son, Jamie. My heart goes out to them. I know what those anniversaries are like, especially the first. We’ve had our own share of “first year anniversaries” around here.

Somehow it seems that the anticipation of the upcoming anniversary is worse than the actual date itself. You expect that there will be another crushing rush of emotion when the date gets here, so on both conscious and unconscious levels, you are preparing for it, alternately being OK and falling apart. Oddly enough, it seems that when the actual date arrives, it’s almost anticlimactic compared to the roller coaster of emotions you’ve been on for the previous week or so. And then it all subsides and you wait for it all to start again.

There are all sorts of “first anniversaries” around a death. The first holidays without... the first birthday... the first death anniversary... Each in its way is painful. By the time you get past the one year anniversary of the death, then you are into “the second” and the second isn’t as bad. The edges start to soften. There is never again the harsh, cruel blow of the “firsts,” but you always remember...

I don’t know why it is that we humans have the need to celebrate anniversaries. On the one-year anniversary of Gilbert’s death, we made a big to-do about it. The five of us who had arranged his memorial service decided to go out to dinner and drink a toast to his memory. We had scattered his ashes off of Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, so I decided to ride a ferry boat across the bay to “visit Gilbert” first. I took my ferry ride, then met the others for dinner. It was tearful and fun at the same time. We decided to make it an annual event.

For fifteen years now--longer than Gilbert and I knew each other--we have been meeting for dinner on Bastille Day, the date of his death. Our group now consists of about 12-15 people, we pick a good restaurant in San Francisco, offer a toast to Gilbert (“’s you”) and then proceed to have a lovely dinner. It’s a little weird, perhaps, but it seems fitting. And boy, if there was anyone who would be surprised at this tradition of ours, it’s Gilbert!

It’s not only death anniversaries that we celebrate, of course. Birthdays and wedding anniversaries have always, been dates that are marked by celebrations of some sort. Birthdays have always been a big deal around our house. I’ve always tried to go overboard on celebrations for the kids, and most decade birthdays for Walt were marked with great ceremony. When he turned 30, it was in the height of the popularity of Laugh-In. Anybody who remembers that show should remember the “Farkel Family,” those red-headed, freckled folk who were a taco short of a combo plate. I had a surprise Farkel party for Walt. Everyone showed up dressed as his or her favorite Farkel. Jeri was 4 at the time and and I still remember how excited she got about it.

He expected a surprise party on his 40th birthday, so I surprised him with not one, but three surprise parties. One actually did surprise him.

But the topper was when he turned 50. It was a party we planned for a full year. We took over the theatre where the kids’ band performed often. We told Walt it was a concert. We invited people from throughout his life--about 120 people, including a guy he grew up with, whom he had not seen in decades. We made Walt think he was going to a concert. When everyone was at the theatre, his sister came to “go with us to the show.” Walt had to pay to get into the theatre and when he got there, the band was on stage playing. A few people were in the audience. When the song concluded, Paul said “I’ve been waiting a whole year to say this...Happy Birthday, Dad!” A banner dropped from the flies, confetti flew, people started coming out from the wings onto the stage. Walt still didn’t get that it was a party for him and I had to push him to go down on stage. As he walked down he began to recognize people he hadn’t seen in years.

It was a gala event. We dressed him in royal robes and crown, from the Davis Comic Opera costume shop. We sat him on a huge oversized chair from the Nutcracker set. And for the next two hours, in speech, song, and poetry, he was roasted but good. At its conclusion, there was a huge pot luck reception . It was the very best party I ever threw and people are still talking about it, 10 years later. I didn’t even try to top it when he turned 60.

Throughout my life there are dates that stick in my mind because they mark special events, whether happy or sad. June 22, the day Judy Garland died. June 13, the date of my high school graduation. October 9, the day I first fell head over heels in love. July 20, the day Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. December 15, the day I quit my job.

Somehow it’s important to us to mark events. These are the milestones along the road of our lives. But there are some anniversaries I’d rather I didn’t have to remember. I’m sure Al would agree with me.

Big hugs, Al...


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created 11/25/00 by Bev Sykes