ninanevermore: (Ferris Wheel)
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I don’t drive by the Thin Place so much anymore, where Death appears as a Carney operating the giant Ferris Wheel of life and death. My commute now takes me west instead of south, where the Thin Place lies in a divided place between the northbound and southbound lanes of a minor state highway going into the northwest corner of Houston. Instead of passing by Death every day on my way to and from work, I pass by subdivisions and shopping centers and schools and lots and lots of trees. But I made a point of dropping by yesterday; there was someone I hoped to see.

It's been too long )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about the day I first learned the Leslie's son had an aneurysm. It was spring of 1993, and I was a few weeks away from graduating from college at the age of 23, because I couldn't think of any way to put it off any more. I put a whole 6 years into getting that 4 year degree, because my father was willing to pay for it and because I still didn't know what I wanted to be or where I wanted to go in my life. To tell the truth, I still don't. Stalling, by taking a minimum class load and changing majors ever so often, in order to keep my diploma at bay was the best tactic I could come up with, but my scheme had just about run it's course.

I was born with brains and just enough charm to get me by, but these things could not make up for an appalling lack of ambition. I am one of those quaint, useless people born to follow where ever the wind blows me, like a small autumn leaf. When there is no wind, I lie on the ground and molder with all the other useless leaves.

I was alone in my college apartment sitting at the dining room table, when the phone rang. It was my kid sister-in-law, Pat, and she was almost hysterical.

A Proxy Pillar of Strength )
ninanevermore: (Ferris Wheel)
I am standing back from the Ferris Wheel, watching the Carney and the woman with her finger pointing in his face. She is shouting at him, more confrontational than anyone I have ever seen facing down Death.

"If you think I'm leaving without my baby, you're dead wrong," she shouts at him, seemingly unaware of the irony of her words, and then she lets loose with a string of epithets. She is screaming, crying, cursing, banging on his chest with her fists, until he takes her in his arms and whispers something to her. I've never seen him actually touch anyone like this before, or anyone fall against him and sob like she does. He holds her tightly, tenderly, whispering words I can't hear, stroking the back of her hair with the hand that is not holding his cigarette.

I stand back and watch as if frozen. I am stunned. Since Cameron's aneurysm in 1993 I have written his epitaph a thousand times in my head, waiting for that phone call from Tennessee; waiting to hear that, after all these years in limbo he was finally gone and we could grieve for him at last. I've steadied myself to be there for Leslie when she finally lost her son, to comfort her and help her through it.

"You're like my little sister, Nina," she's told me on so many occasions, "You don't know how much you mean to me. I love you so much."

I was prepared for Cameron's death. Leslie's death, however, has blindsided me.

A New Ass-Kicking Angel stomps through the Pearly Gates )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about my conversation with my cousin in Tennessee, Leslie, last night. All of my conversations with Leslie give me something to think about for days afterward, and this one was no exception. Leslie – family rebel, aging flower child, ex biker chick, and a formerly certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor who has rediscovered the pleasures of drinking and smoking even as a mailing center in Colorado prepares to send out her AARP membership card – has a way of putting a different perspective on things than I ever would have come up with on my own. Last night she passed on some tips on raising a toddler.

Raising a DIY Kid )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about the latest phone call from my cousin Leslie in Tennessee. I love it when she calls. She makes me ride an emotional roller coaster of laughter and pain that has a way of grounding me when I step off of it. I always spend the next few days mulling over everything she tells me after we say goodbye, or, as was the case on Sunday, when the battery in her cell phone runs out and abruptly ends the call.

One Powerful Ass-Kicking Angel )
ninanevermore: (Ferris Wheel)
Today on my drive into work, I glanced over at The Ferris Wheel as I sat at the stoplight and caught the eye of The Carney. I haven't written about The Carney for a while (aside from the night [livejournal.com profile] noblwish asked me to show her where I see him), because I've been annoyed with him about my cousin in Tennessee.

I've learned not to get sore at The Carney over someone dying, because I understand it's all in a day's work. It is the uncertainty about Cameron that drives me crazy. So many times over the years I've thought Cam's time was near and prepared to mourn him, and each time it has been a false alarm. It wears a person thin, and puts me in the morally uncomfortable position of sometimes thinking that I would just as soon the whole thing be over with.

I nodded at The Carney, and I guess from way he raised his eyebrows that the expression on my face must have been cold. He shrugged his shoulders at me and extended his hands out to the sides, palms up. It's not his fault - he only stops the ride when it's time. I nodded again and I gave him a wry half smile.

His smiled back - a full smile, not a half one, making mine look stingy - and crushed out his cigarette on the post of the gate he stands next to. He reached in his shirt pocket and took out his harmonica. I'd almost forgotten that he keeps it with him. He pantomimed rolling down an old-fashioned car window, the kind where you crank a handle in a circle to lower the glass. I powered my window down just as the light was about to turn green. He pressed the harp to his lips and began to play a bluesy, vaguely gospelly melody. I've heard the tune before, but could not put my finger on where. As I drove off, I could still hear it in my car, or maybe just in my mind, even after The Ferris Wheel blinked out of sight a few feel past the intersection.

Whatever it was, I was still humming it to myself when I sat down at my desk at work. I've had it in my head all day: death's melody, haunting, a little bluesy, a little bit gospel sounding, and oddly, unexpectedly, comforting.
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about the phone call I am waiting for from my cousin Leslie or, more likely, her significant other, saying that it is over, that her son Cameron has died. My grief has been held in a state of suspended animation for years now in anticipation of this one phone call. Knowing that it is immanent weighs heavy on my mind these days even as I think it will be a blessed relief when it comes.

Grief by Proxy )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about my last conversation with my cousin Leslie, who's son is brain damaged from an aneurism that burst in his head 13 years ago. His condition is deteriorating, and she called me this weekend to let me know that her gut instinct tells her that this is the beginning of the end.

The Beginning of The End )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about my cousin Leslie, who called me last night while she stood outside of a hospital somewhere in Tennessee. Usually, her phone calls last at least an hour, but this one was only about 20 minutes - about the time it takes to smoke 2 cigarettes. Leslie smokes, and when she's stressed she chain smokes and talks a mile a minute. Her son had just been admitted to the hospital, so she was plenty stressed.

Joyful music leads us Sunward... )

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