Tuesday, December 11, 2007

a shard of a letter

this is the beginning of a letter to a writing friend-- I decided to write a different letter to that friend, and this one hates to be abandoned.

Writing from my other writing paradise: home when no one is awake, when the coffee is brewing in the French press, the sun is about ten minutes from tipping over the horizon—the most brilliant colors have just passed, while I wrestled to get an internet connection (sigh—still have not figured out that “wireless” box over there, on the list of problems to solve, along with the loosened dryer vent hose…) Regardless of how many broken things need attention in our little treehouse, this is the best light on earth, and I’m ready for the morning blast of sunlight, when it comes.

Karen's funeral was the fruit of long preparation-- seventeen years after the diagnosis of some terrible illness, after strokes and near-blindness and crumbling bones and suffering, her family was eager to have her released from pain. Adult nieces and nephews transformed to their ten-year-old selves to marvel again at their crazy auntie, and I could see again her sadness about having no children: they adore her. One nephew has been her attorney for years, and her impractical dreaming charms him despite harrowing details. They recount the time Karen let them overflow the bathtub, nearly destroying the house, and how no one could stay mad at her, nor could she stay apologetic for long.

No one was surprised when I mentioned Karen's insistence on applying for dual citizenship in Ireland, from the hospital bed she left only to shower and to go to the bathroom. "That's our Kaz!" they laughed. Her dreams, kept alive by sheer will and dreams.

When I met her, she was extraordinary, but slowed by the limitations of illness and recovery. I've always wondered what she was like before. "She was like you. Vibrant, like you," her niece said. I wondered the same, a year ago, if she saw herself in me, in some ways. But I'd never heard it spoken.

I was wrong about the bright color being passed-- magenta and periwinkle clouds blooming all colors outside my window, gulls and starlings wheeling.

It's a different day, overcast but still winter-beautiful. The lady at the 1-800 number was helpful and my new wireless router is set up-- one more box to the attic, one more chore done and my administrative work for writing will be just a bit easier to manage.


Carine said...

Denise, I liked this piece very much. I'm sorry for all this wonderful person went through in their life, but, it seems as if (by your words)she did it with wit, courage and a sense of humor we all hope to have.

K.G. Schneider said...

I'm glad you were there to be a presence in her life. A portrait of this person would be a great contribution to the world.

Denise said...

I've been writing about Karen for my graduate program, digging into the stories I sketched while working for her, discovering more besides.