What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?
Well, if you haven’t already heard, my son was born last Saturday morning. The actual birthing experience was much different than two and a half years ago with my daughter, but both shared a good case of jaundice, and as I write this, we are still waiting for the opportunity to take him off the blue lights. It’s a tough time, but I think back on my daughter and know that everything will be okay soon.
Considering this experience of becoming a parent from a writing perspective, if you haven’t already, you can check out this post on my daughter’s birth:
Slowing Down: On the birth of my daughter… or… A Softer Side of the Horror Writer.
What does the future hold?
Today, this question that I use in every post seems like a very good one.
You’ll have to check back next week, and we’ll see.
But without further ado…
When it comes to visiting close friends and family in other locales, you rarely get enough time. I struggle to think of many times when I’ve been on vacation and thought, “Okay, I’ve seen enough of this person.” So I’ve learned that while we don’t get as much time as we’d like, we have to enjoy every moment that we get.
I think this goes for life in general.
And this idea really ties well into this excerpt from an East Coast trip I took with my wife a few years back. One part of our trip took us to Philadelphia to see a good friend of mine, Clark. While much more complex than the generalizations I’m about to give you, the main thing you need to know about Clark in order to get this piece started is that he is a California boy. And liberal.
Philadelphia was not the right place for Clark.
The rest of the piece will unfold as it goes. However, I will say that before going to Philadelphia, Jennifer and I had gone to the Body Worlds exhibit. As a once Biology major, this was fascinating. As a horror writer, it touched a dark nerve. But as it related to our trip, the contemplation of life and death already hung heavy in the air by the time we made it to Philadelphia.
So NOW without further ado…
“With the good ones in this life, you count yourself lucky for the minutes you get, the moments you get, moments like a clean wash cloth, ice cold wet on a hot summer day. You know it won’t last forever, so you squeeze every drop, drink it all in, and when you can’t twist anything else out of it, you put the cool, damp rag on your face until it dries away.”
– bh duk
Clark and I talk that night about the ocean. Water in general. How we’re connected to it. How the earth is just us on a larger scale or vice-versa. And the water is the lifeblood of the planet, the body.
Clark has been disconnected from the ocean, and I don’t think it’s treating him too well. Tradeoffs. We talk about tradeoffs considerably. Whether it’s where you live or how you choose to live or who you choose to live for.
We talk about “what if’s” and it makes me a little sad that while I’m just curious about my own “what if’s,” Clark seems to have a few moments where he would’ve done something different than he did.
We talk about the golden mean, and if there is an order to the universe. Call it math, science, or God, it seems undeniable.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. None of this conversation might’ve come about had it not been for the fact that on our second night, Jennifer and I are faced with death. I tell Jennifer that I’ve never been any good with death. Never know what to say to people experiencing that loss. Never know when the right time to call is. I just don’t like it. I know that seems obvious and that probably very few people do like death, but honestly, I know there are some people out there who feed off of tragedy. Maybe not to that extent, but you know the type. People who wouldn’t be happy if they weren’t miserable.
Jennifer’s Uncle Calvin has passed. And it’s a tragedy. But as with my Aunt Peggy, I feel like the greatest tragedy is just for those who are left behind. I’ve never felt really sure about anything when it comes to religion, the pre-life or the post-party, but when Peggy died, and again with Cal, I was struck with a certainty that they are in a good place. Not necessarily a better place, but a good place.
I can see how my mind might’ve wanted to seek out this reassurance with Peggy, because I was a little closer to her, but when I got the feeling with Cal, it didn’t feel like a defense mechanism. Granted, I really liked Cal. He reminded me of an old cowboy. Much like my father. But I didn’t need to be comforted as much as Jennifer.
And that was another thing. It didn’t feel like the obligatory consoling comments to my wife. I even hesitated to say it to her because I know that she isn’t really sold on the idea of a god or afterlife or any of that (not that I’m insinuating as much as that… just something beyond, even if it’s just a great joining with the cosmos), and I knew my consolation wouldn’t give her the same comfort that it would give to Cal’s wife.
Ruth was gone when he died. Apparently he had been having some health problems, but nothing that would’ve led doctors to believe he was close to death. But on that day, Cal had practically forced Ruth out of the house to go with her sister to a wedding. And again, I wonder if somewhere deep inside, maybe not even in his conscious awareness, he knew that the time was coming. Or someone knew that his time was coming. And like an old cowboy would, he pushed his wife out the door, told her to go have fun.
Because we all die alone.
That’s right from “Donnie Darko,” (among other things) I recognize, but it’s true. We all die alone. The important thing is the people who are left behind. Maybe nothing could’ve been done for Cal, and if that was the case, it seems like it would be better if his wife wasn’t there when it happened. I know that we want to be there for the final moments of a loved one’s life, and maybe Ruth felt like she would’ve liked to have told him one more time that she loved him. Maybe they even had a spat, but I feel confident of one thing. He knew that he was loved when he left this world.
And for the rest of us, we didn’t have to see him pass slowly and painfully in a hospital somewhere. We’re left with our memories, left with moments that are sweet, like cold drops of water on your face on a hot summer day. In my opinion, we can only hope that we go that way. Like an old cowboy.
– end of excerpt –
What do I want from you?
As always links to your blogs are welcome.
Don’t forget to check back next Friday. It’s not going to be another travelogue piece, and I won’t have gone very far from my home, but I’m very curious to see where I’ll be.
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