My fellow Americans, as we know the summer travel season is now well underway:
Turns out Americans die abroad much the same ways as at home. Most non-natural deaths are not a consequence of terrorism or war. Other than in certain places, they are due mostly to accidents and suicides.
At that State Department page, using the drop down menu you may choose a month/year period combination and country. After a click you’ll discover how, and precisely where, Americans there died of non-natural causes between 2002 and 2014. Isn’t our government helpful?
My sister-in-law lost her younger sister about two weeks ago. We’re going to her funeral in Essex today.
As a toddler, Donna had been a victim of medical malpractice that led to traumatic brain damage. Her family received a huge compensation package from the National Health Service (NHS). The money was set aside to make sure she was properly looked after for the rest of her life.
And every pound and pence would be needed. It was projected she would not live to 21. But she far outlived medical estimates.
Donna never grew “old.” But, for over 35 years, she had been unable to do almost anything for herself. Her parents and family – her mother especially – mostly looked after her.
After our “road trip” odyssey, we’re settled in here for the week in Fernandina Beach. My Dad had been to Florida only once before, back in 1985, to settle my late grandmother’s estate (after she had died in Hudson, near Tampa). Now here for our holiday, he is thoroughly enjoying himself – which was our goal after he nearly died of heart failure back in August.
One of my now bigger regrets – one never to be remedied – is when our friend Kam (the London-born and raised daughter of Sikh immigrants to the U.K., and who died suddenly at age 45 in February 2014) remarked a year or so before her death that she had wanted to visit India with us.
….Being eliminated from a friend’s life used to mean ignored phone calls and mutual, public recriminations to third parties; today, it’s as easy as untagging yourself from an ussie and clicking unfollow on Twitter. On the other side, you’re at even more of a loss when you click on the profile of a Twitter friend with whom you’d had a long and fruitful online discussion the day before and see a blank space where it used to say “FOLLOWS YOU”. Every time you log-in, wherever it may be, you could find yourself invisible to someone you thought was your friend, and found out was only a fair-weather follower.
We live on the internet now. That whole idea about how we have to look up from our phones and digital devices to have real lives and experiences is over. There isn’t always a difference between emotion and emoticon. Our challenge now is to integrate our humanity into our online lives….
….In an age where the internet acts as a force-multiplier for sociability (if only for those who are native to it), it is now possible to develop friendships with people we’ve never met at all. Twitter is more than just a conversation; it is a schoolyard, a lunchroom, a water cooler. “Internet friends” are still friends – at least as much as “friends” on Facebook who we haven’t seen in years.
I found out that my friend had died late at night, and reflexively direct-messaged her boyfriend on Twitter. The next morning, I wasn’t sure if I’d made a mistake: I was a stranger to them, really….
It is fascinating what has evolved in only a decade or two. Once upon a time my (internalized) general rule was a “friend” was someone I knew in person and could call on the phone and he/she would NOT be stunned to hear from me. But if any of our mobiles rang right now and on the other end (without pre-planning of course) happened to be someone who “follows” us and whom we also “follow,” but whom we’ve also never met, let’s be honest most of us would probably think something was, umm, not quite right here. ;-)
As you know, I didn’t get Frontiers finished in time for publication today. I had fought to make today (which was slightly earlier than I had planned) in memory of one of the real-life inspirations for my novel(s) – although I never told her that (and never would have). However, she’d known I was writing the first one, Passports. The last time we saw each other in person, in mid-2013, she’d urged me on to do the best I could and said she was sure it would be great.
She died back on February 2. I wrote a post about her eight days later. If you’d like to re-read it, click here.
Today would have been her 46th birthday.
Have a good Sunday, wherever you are reading this. And thank you for reading, following, and sharing my novel-writing site. :-)
For some reason, among all my London commuting on trains or in traffic I clearly remember one episode years ago of being stuck on the Underground’s Piccadilly line in north London. As the train waited motionless for what seemed like interminable minutes just outside a station (it was probably Arnos Grove), the driver came on the public address system and explained there’d been a problem at the station moments before and that he had to wait for verbal confirmation to proceed. We all heard him sigh and mumble, “Delays, delays, delays….”
What does that have to do with this post? It’s that I won’t get Frontiers published tomorrow. And I’m thoroughly annoyed at myself over the “delay.”
Yesterday, I found several more “tiny errors,” including the word “talking” where it should have appeared as “taking.” I’ve only read that chapter about, oh, half a dozen times recently. And I’ve also run it through Word’s grammar check? I don’t understand….
Not exactly something to put me in the best frame of mind. I desperately wanted it out for Kam’s birthday, which was November 9th. But I also thought to myself what she might say if I could tell her. With her warm smile, she would probably observe something like, “Rob, it’s soooo nice of you, but don’t release it for me if you’re not happy with it. Get it the way you want it. C’mooooon, now….” (She often softly drew out words for emphasis.)
So I will “scrub” Frontiers a bit more for a few days. I feel better finally telling you all. I had become increasingly grouchy as I realized I would not make my self-imposed deadline.
I’ve been at this since January. A few days more to “make sure” is neither here nor there. Everyone, do please try to control your eager anticipation for a little while longer. ;-)
Following on from yesterday, some “insider” info. If you’ve been stopping by since February, you may know. They were not idle words: I am going to do it. She will have her own page among the front matter:
Not exactly an uplifting Monday post. For that, I apologize in advance. Sorry.
Sunday evening, my wife got an email from a friend whom we, and most everyone else, already know has a serious, long-term illness. She wrote that she has just been told she probably has only months to live. She noted that the only person who knows that is – unsurprisingly – her husband (they have no children).
And now, so does my wife; she’s second. She asked my wife not to tell anyone else; but, naturally, my wife immediately told me. However, I don’t really count as someone else, because I’m essentially a “dead end,” a cul-de-sac: I’m certainly not going to tell anyone.
There I was yesterday morning, thinking, oh, I’ll have a quiet day and try to “de-stress.” In my creative cocoon, I was seeing light at the end of the latest tunnel: the sequel is almost done. Finally, that struggle is nearing its end.
How unimportant the likes of that always seems whenever we are unexpectedly thrust back into unforgiving, actual reality.
Earlier this year, we’d already endured the worst death I have ever experienced. “I wonder if that’s what they told Kam?” was my knee-jerk response when my wife told me about this, more distant, friend. Later, we tried to lose ourselves in the first episode of the newest season of Downton Abbey.
Life is full of harsh moments like this. Yet this is new to me: What does one do with information like this when you are asked to keep it in confidence? The person facing the terminal illness has shared what she has been told of her fate, yet where does that leave those few who are told and then sworn to secrecy?
All I can say is that, having slept on it, possessing such information leaves me with a guilty sense of awful insider knowledge. Even if keeping it “quiet” is based on the best of intentions (to spare feelings, worry, etc.), important people are being left out of the loop; and they shouldn’t be. Ultimately, in my humble opinion, it’s never fair to them.