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19 August 2002

It's been a day to come in touch--yet again--with the fragility of life. A day of powerful emotions and sad news from friends of ours.

The plan had been to try to get some biking done with Olivia this weekend. However, due to an injury she had a year and a half ago (when some idiot in a car hit her while she was riding her bike, sending her careening over the handlebars, breaking one wrist and powdering the opposite elbow), her ability to bike kind of waxes and wanes. This was a waning week and she's having a difficult time coping with the pain. Biking was out.

But I went down there anyway, visited for a bit, and then took off by bike to visit another friend who also lives in Alameda, and whom I had not seen since before the first of the year. In the interim, I have dropped 73 lbs and she has dropped 45 and we spent time telling each other how great we look and swapping WeightWatchers stories.

But there was also the tale of her partner, who is facing brain surgery in two weeks for a tumor which is pressing on her auditory nerve and on the nerve which controls balance on one side of her body. The tumor has already caused irreparable damage to the auditory nerve and she has permanently lost the hearing on one side.

The surgery will involve boring holes in her skull, removing the tumor in what they hope will be an uncomplicated procedure, closing up the holes with plugs of tissue from her abdomen, and then a 5-7 day hospital stay before she comes home to learn how to balance all over again.

When our visit was finished, I went for a long bike ride alone. Back to Bay Farm Island by myself this time, my body feeling good to be working out, taking the hills at a high gear, pushing myself, sweating, and feeling like I'd accomplished something.

As I rode along, I thought about life and how precious are our relationships with the special people in our lives--and how easily those relationships can be shattered when something unexpected--like a bike accident, or a tumor, or something else--happens.

I packed up the bike and drove home and when I arrived, there was an e-mail from Ned letting me know that the daughter of good friends of ours had committed suicide. He had no details--and the parents have recently moved, so I do not have their address or phone number (and am not even sure which city they live in now, since they have changed states).

I ache for them. This is a family which has already endured significant tragedy in the past but things seemed to be going so well for everyone in the family. I'd say "I can't imagine the pain they are going through," but unfortunately I can.

I want to gather everybody I love in my arms, wrap them in bubble wrap, and never let them go.

But unfortunately I know life doesn't work that way.

I hate that part.

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Thank you for nominating my entry, Moving On for a DiaristNet award!

Quote of the Day

"You'll get over it...' It's the clichés that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don't get over it because 'it' is theperson you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to? I've thought a lot about death recently, the finality of it, the argument ending in mid-air. One of us hadn't finished, why did the other one go? And why without warning? Even death after long illness is without warning. The moment you had prepared for so carefully took you by storm. The troops broke through the window and snatched the body and the body is gone. The day before the Wednesday last, this time a year ago, you were here and now you're not. Why not? Death reduces us to the baffled logic of a child. If yesterday why not today? And where are you? Fragile creatures of a small blue planet, surrounded by light years of silent space. Do the dead find peace beyond the rattle of the world? What peace is there for us whose best lovecannot return them even for a day? I raise my head to the door and think I will see you in the frame. I know it is your voice in the corridor but when I run outside the corridor is empty. There is nothing I can do that will make any difference. The last word is yours. The fluttering in the stomach goes away and the dull waking pain. Sometimes I think of you and I feel giddy. Memory makes me lightheaded, drunk on champagne. All the things we did. And if anyone had said this was the price I would have agreed to pay it. That surprises me; that with the hurt and the mess comes a shaft of recognition. It was worth it. Love is worth it."

~ Jeannette Winterson, Written on the Body

Picture of the Day

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One Year Ago
Everything but the Pope
The Pope room is decorated in everything papal. I'm sure it's a terrible sacrilege. The walls are lined with photos and paintings, there are standards of the roman legions, a bust of the Pope stands encased in plastic on a turntable on the round table.

Two Years Ago
My mother would tie the coin in a white handkerchief with a big knot. I remember I liked to suck on the coin through the handkerchief and get that metallic taste in my mouth. At lunch time, I would have to get one of the nuns to help me untie the knot and then I would buy the milk that I drank with my peanutbutter and jelly sandwich.

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Pounds Lost:  72.2
(this figure is updated on Tuesdays)

On the Odometer:  537.7

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