I don’t believe I’ve taken a month off from writing here since I started writing here in 1997. If you know me at all you’ve probably heard the news but my father died about a month ago. Somewhat suddenly, not entirely unexpectedly. The things I write here also wind up over on Facebook, so I’m less inclined to talk at length here, but it’s Father’s Day tomorrow and I know some people are wondering how I’m doing and I wanted to put a marker up and say I’m doing okay. Not thriving, but okay. A little slow in the head but okay in the spirit. I’m generally a fairly cerebral and introspective person, some have said an overthinker, and managing grief that you’ve been preparing for for a while is an interesting animal. I loved my dad and he loved me and we were on good terms with each other and I’m thinking that’s the best you can hope for in this sort of situation.
I apologize if this sounds cold, but logistically, having had an organized and meticulous father (and being a bit of a chip off the old block in this case) has been a godsend. Paperwork is in order. Arrangements have been made. People have stepped up in almost surprising numbers to help out, lend an ear, be present. My sister, who has always been one of my favorite people, continues to be an absolute joy to have in my life when the chips are down. I have a supportive and capable boyfriend who seems to understand the “I need to be completely alone for a while” feelings I’m having and random demands I’m making.
The details aren’t that gripping. For now we’re keeping the house in Westport, where I’m writing this from. We had a small service and there will be a larger “celebration of life” thing in late July that I am sending out an email about this weekend. You can read the obits that made the rounds
A lot of people who knew my father as a computer engineer or even a sailor may not have known that he was also a musician, played the guitar and sang, had a wonderful voice. He was in a band called the Islanders on Martha’s Vineyard in Chilmark. Apparently (and I am not totally clear on details) there was a little make-your-own record pressing machine service there and we have eight or so albums of music performances that he was a part of. My mom has been digitizing them and put up one of the songs recently and you can hear it here.
So, sorry if I didn’t get to tell you before this. Thanks to people who have sent cards, emails, well-wishes and the like. I expect it will take a long time to get used to the new normal around here. This is one of the many times I’m feeling fortunate to have a solid group of near and faraway friends and family even though, like my dad, I can have a tendency to keep people at arm’s length.
Sorry for the total radio silence. My year is going fine. Well, my year is going well except for the things that are not going well. The New Year was wonderful. Party with friends. Downtime with Jim after a busy couple of months. Lovely weather. Tasty food. Good movies. Came back to work at MetaFilter to find that a moderately well-known user had died. This is a difficult thing in Internet communities, in a different way than real-life communities. Many people hadn’t known Andrew’s real name and knew very little about him other than what he had shared on the site. He had made a not-funny-in-hindsight comment about faking his own death a month earlier. Strange times. I spent a chunk of New Years’ Day swapping facebook messages with his 26 year old widow and talking to other members of the community. It was slow going, but we worked through it. We have a procedure on MetaFilter for what to do when people die. It works okay. I hate having to use it.
Then, three days later I got the staggering news that my internet-and-real-life friend Brad Graham had died. In his sleep. Of natural causes. He was my age. Another internet-and-real-life friend sent me an email when he found out and saved me from having to learn the bad news on Twitter. And it’s a different sort of difficult. Brad was one of those people who everyone loved, everyone wanted to spend more time with, everyone could pass on a joke he’d told them but say “but I can’t really tell it like Brad could.” He had “Break Bread with Brad” events at a lot of occasions when he’d travel — in San Francisco for Fray Day, in Austin for SXSW — and it was the best opportunity to get to know other people, nerds like us. I was luckier than a lot of internet people in that I’d actually gotten to spend some real-life time with Brad, at his house when I was driving x-country and at a very small wedding of dear friends. Brad was so popular and fun to be around that even though he made you feel like the center of his universe, it was tough to get much alone-time with him and I think I’d had more than most. The MetaTalk rememberance thread filled up with people who haven’t been on MetaFilter in any real way for years. People who barely blog anymore wrote moving pieces about him on their website.
Like most people, I went digging through my old emails just to read some of the things he’d said. I read about my contribution to the Bradlands Underpants Drive to contribute to Katrina victims in a Bradlike way. I read about the time I’d put his cell phone number in my calendar and then uploaded it to the internet and he’d found it by Googling his own cell phone number. I went so far back in my emails, I actually found a time (that I had forgotten) when I had a separate email folder for “internet friends” and email from Brad was in that folder, from 2002. He fixed a typo for me, I don’t even remember what for, but he called me “darling” when he told me he fixed it.
I haven’t been writing anything else because I’ve been missing Brad, someone I’d realistically see in person once a year at most usually less, and it seemed wrong to write about it and wrong to not write about it. A bunch of us are collecting donations for a memorial for him for the theater where he worked. If he was someone you knew, please consider a donation. I know I’ll remember him for many different things: good hugs, good advice, good stories, a wicked sense of humor that was always edgily appropriate (I think? for me?) and a magnetic personality wrapped up in a funny sweater. Oh and I guess he invented the word “blogosphere” I had no idea.
I have a heavy heart this week. A longtime friend of the family died on Tuesday. I put a photo of her up on Flickr, but otherwise I haven’t been talking about it much. Pat’s obit is here and it’s more of one than she would have had if she had gotten her druthers. I took a friend out to lunch on Friday.
I deal with grief poorly. Generally I just sort of slosh it around inside of me and usually it manifests itself as stress-related slightly-hypochondriacal random symptoms, and a lot of irritability and sleepiness. So, I’m laying in bed looking out the window at the wet trees in the backyard, realizing I’m not going to mow the lawn again this weekend and trying to make some escape-from-the-house plan before I get bogged down in endless linux upgrades and housecleaning busywork. On the other hand busywork beats moping and both of them beat more typing, so I guess I’ll wrap this up here. If you’re so inclined, it would be nice if you took a friend out to lunch.