Monday, April 25, 2016

#SOL16: Fictions


Some truths are too stubborn, too unflappable for deception.  For example, I could never mistake my husband's body after death for the man he was before he took that last breath. Immediately after death, the body reveals itself as nothing more than a carrier of the most temporary sort.  What makes us human, vital, present is immediately gone and leaves behind an absence we cannot fill.  


Some fictions though act as pleasant stories--ones we tell ourselves as we walk about in a day. Some mornings I walk and I imagine other ends for Rob, other alternatives, ones that are less traumatic, though no less final.

Instead of traveling to the hospital in the predawn morning of September 14--the very day my father, had he lived would have turned 98, we return to bed and refuse all treatments. We say no to the surgeon who only hours later will insert the infected port that marks the end to Rob's life.  In this new scenario, Rob lives for the next 6 months and we make the most of the time we have--time we never got to use due to the doctors, the infections, the mishaps, the carelessness, the surgeries, and the sad, sad collapse of our lives overnight.

In this revised version of Rob's life, the letter he told me he wanted to write his son, gets written.
The trip once more to Maine, gets taken. We lie down together, love sweetly. We see a movie.  We talk. He tells me where he put Dev's social security card.  We have time to say goodbye, to say all those things we thought were ours to give to one another.

In this scenario, Rob lives outside of the hospital bed. He does not spiral down.


What acts best confirm your fictions?
What confirms the truths you most want to believe? 


  1. From radio drama program, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

    "The Valentine Matter"

    Originally broadcast Wednesday, November 2, 1955

    A broken down, alcoholic ex-attorney, Conrad Webster is confronted at his home in a rundown part of New Orleans by investigator Johnny Dollar. Dollar is looking for an ex-gangster and long-ago Webster client, Dan Valentine (a man who came to the U.S. after fighting for Irish independence). Responding to the 3 AM knock on the door of his hovel, Webster says to Dollar:

    "Young man, the drug store delivers what I need most, the telegraph office what I dread most. Obviously, you represent neither, therefore you are no concern of mine."

    When Dollar asks if he's Conrad Webster, he adds:

    "I am he, and I am drunk and disheveled, and it is three o'clock in the morning."

    Upon presentation of a bottle of whiskey, Webster ushers Dollar inside.

    When Dollar suggests that people are trying to kill his old client, Dan Valentine -- and that he may die if Dollar doesn't find him first, Webster is agitated and asks:

    "Why is the phenomenon of death so persistently alarming? So he will die. They all die.

    "His friends for the most part are gone, like the long years, like Homburg hats and the Charleston and Lime Rickey. The ones who are left are broken, tired and faded, with old faces, faces like mine, like his. And we should be gone too.

    "Another age is here. This is my sadness."

    Taken on its own, that dialogue is one thing. To know it was written by a man in his twenties is something else, and I've never been able to get past that. How does someone at that age have such perspective?

    Another line from that same radio series lives in my head. An older woman, after her brother is killed, says, "Regrets are so futile." The four words on their own fall flat; what lives in my head is the life of her performance of that line.

    1. Death interests all of us as we all acknowledge to lesser and greater degrees our own mortality. Regrets are futile.