The Fish is Dead, Long Live the Fish

Winny, the third of three beta fishes (and the fourth pet if you count his best friend Fasty, the snail) has died. We are more or less certain that the fatal injury was incurred on a playdate by a mischievous friend wielding a cheap piece of jewelry.

Short Stack wrote this letter to the alleged perpetrator:
Dear Sophia, I'm sorry to say but you stuck paart of the necklise in the fish boll. My fish is dede now. It is not todally your falt. It's my mom's falt too!! Fish water: if you stick something (metle) in the fish water when you take it out, it is dry, that is how fish water works!
(Man, it was really fun to frustrate autocorrect there! Nyah, nyah!)

He's going in the garden in this scheme:
  • Fasty: under a tiny rosemary which has since, um, not flourished
  • Reddy (Bob): at the foot of a young redbud
  • Winny: in the hole I dug for a new hydrangea paniculata
  • Daddy: half, in the base of a young but noble elm tree (half still on a bookshelf).
(Sadly, the first fish, Goldy, was unceremoniously flushed because he died when I was out of town. But we're regretting that now).

Does this all help my daughter understand her great loss -- of her father -- any better? It's really hard for me to say. On the one hand, I think she's overly preoccupied with death. On the other hand, I just read that 7-year-olds tend to be a bit "goth" as part of their internal development. She's certainly not as bad as above mentioned Sophia (who believes that she is secretly a vampire and she keeps her little brother's secret powers in her jewelry box). She hasn't even been as sad as I'd expect after each loss, even though she expresses great affection and interest in each pet. And we are talking about fish here.

I mean, fish that she READS TO ("the Night Before Christmas"). Fish that she teaches TRICKS to. Fish that she has tried to get to pronounce the word "FOOD."

This kid knows how to love. She invests, even in small scaly things. And she doesn't get real upset, even while blaming me. It seems to me she has grown into her loss -- that she and I are more intermeshed because of it -- but it hasn't stopped her (or me) from attaching to Mr. Fresh. She is so at ease with having had two Daddies.

My child is such a comfort and a curiosity.

And she is campaigning for a cat.


What he was thinking, 2

(What he was thinking, 1, is here)

After Gavin died, I found a post-it note at his desk that stated:
Ataraxia: a tranquil indifference to the world’s vicissitudes.
I can’t think of anything he strove for more than this: calm and ease with the world.

As time went on and I sat in his office where I'd found the note, doing "estate business," (har har!) I wondered how he had managed to stare at these words all day long during his frustrating and futile fight with cancer (which angered him on many, many occasions). But I had, somehow, lost the note (I’d put it in a “special place” #yeahright). So I looked it up. Wikipedia had a different view of its meaning:

 … For the Pyrrhonians, owing to one's inability to say which sense impressions are true and which ones are false, it is the quietude that arises from suspending judgment on dogmatic beliefs or anything non-evident and continuing to inquire. The experience was said to have fallen on the painter Apelles who was trying to paint the foamy saliva of a horse. He was so unsuccessful that, in a rage, he gave up and threw the sponge he was cleaning his brushes with at the medium, thus producing the effect of the horse's foam.
I could compare the two definitions and try to psychoanalyze him, but probably, actually, I couldn’t. And I’m not sure it would be useful, since I THINK he wrote the note before his diagnosis and I don’t know where his version came from.

But I love that the example quotes another artist. Gavin was always using his work to explore, and he was often, often frustrated. Looking for definition, and finding Apelles, was for me and probably for him, too, like running into an old friend.

I remember how often Gavin wanted to tear up his beautiful sheets of Arches (and how often he did), when all anyone saw was the tranquil and pristine result. How often his struggles were with the page or his idea, and NOT with the wicked and messy world we live in. It’s a kind of transcendence that the artist has, even with cancer and the whole bit.

He knew how lucky he was to be an artist, allowed to use his energy this way. And I know how often putting it on paper helped him find peace.

Which is nice, because I tend to dwell on the hurt.

Which might be what makes writers.


Culture Clash

I love leading an online community. Today Widowed Village received the following application for membership:
I am intended to marry with widow/divorced woman. Their status, age, (having children) doesn't matter, only virtue (pure heart)is important.
I can promise I will be responsible person to make our family always be happy.
I think if we are doing something really right then we have to do this. This will my prominent decision of my life.
Widow/divorced woman are isolated from world, therefore i want to turn my wedding decision to right way and we both will be respectable for each other..

I am Aamir H. from India, as above given is short description, but it is truth. Actually, i am single but interested in to marry with widow woman .. so can you help me? Give me suggestion too...
He is only 26 and yes, I turned him down (we only allow widowed people to join).... I mean, for membership, of course.

Is Aamir doing a good deed? (Can we assume he's very ugly, ill, impotent?) We've all heard horror stories about being widowed in India. Even though the sati is banned, remarriage is supposed to be rare.

It just looks so, so bad in this country where soliciting online for a bride is a business and arranged marriages are considered an injustice beyond anything. Amir's request sounds... cheap. It seems... an ugly sort of business transaction. But if I read it... well, it seems like there's a man with a heart there. I don't really mean to make fun of him (though it would be easy to).

This is the third or fourth request we've had like this. They're all quite clear about their intentions. The first one made me queasy. By now, I sort of respect their honesty and wonder what is up. Do these fellows want to move to the U.S. or another English-dominant country? Do they think our community has many Indian members (we might, someday, I suppose)?

Can someone explain to me what is going on? I know I have readers in India....


Reflections on independence

This flag, reflected in the window of the Marriott San Diego when I was at Camp Widow last year, shows a little bit of how flags REALLY work: their symbolism might seem to be written in stone, but a flag at every moment, to every person, looks different. Linear, elemental, in primary colors, a flag symbolizes a foundation, but any real flag changes constantly, responding to wind and water. This one appears here to be cut off and wavy, and it was alone on just one tier of many mirrored levels of the hotel facade.

And I really hate Monday holidays (pretty sure I posted this last year too), which is a reflection of how crappy I am as a single parent.


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