Looking Up

About seven years ago, a good friend of mine experienced an unthinkable tragedy. Her 38-year-old cousin—to whom she was extremely close—and the woman’s two young daughters were walking hand in hand to school when a driver, having passed out due to an illness, swerved into them. They were dragged to their deaths. Ever since, my friend […]

What Happened Next

My husband died.  He wasn’t young any more and was sick and weak but we weren’t expecting his death to come as quickly as it did, within a few days, almost overnight.  He just went away.  Maybe there are worse things than a quick, quiet death. Here’s what happened next. My brother and sister-in-law (who […]

Shattered

A couple of weeks ago, my 20-year-old cousin put his father’s service revolver to his head and pulled the trigger. His parents and one of his brothers were home at the time. They heard the shot and ran to his room. His mother and brother tried to stop the bleeding while his father performed CPR. […]

Death Barged In

Pia’s birthday was last week. I didn’t call her or send a card or bake a cake. Such efforts would have fallen on deaf ears, because she died six years ago in January. Pia was the older sister I’d never had, and she’d welcomed me into her life with apricots and a warm pot of […]

What is a good death?

My beloved neighbor Joanne was 87 years old when her son found her dead in the hallway of her old farmhouse on Monday. They’d gone to a funeral together that morning — a younger relative had died of pancreatic cancer — and after lunch he’d dropped her off at home. When he returned later that […]

Continuity and Deep Time

About a decade before my father died, he asked me to start collecting rocks for him. I didn’t fully understand why, but since I was studying geology at the time, I began to pick them up wherever I visited. Limestone from the Alps; granite from New Zealand. He kept the rocks I collected on a […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Mantle Drag

The older I get, the more people I know who have lost what they could not afford to lose.  I’ll repeat:  lost means gone, unrecoverable, not coming back; and what these people lost, they still need and want.  The problem is nearly universal and has no obvious solution, or rather, the solution is idiosyncratic and […]