Wednesday, February 09, 2005

In an eerie case of "death comes in threes,"

yesterday brought the third announcement. It's the more bizarre because about ten days ago I woke from a disturbing dream in which the only characters were my mother, father, and sister -- all three died years ago. I wondered at the time if this was a foreboding of events to come, or, if it indicated something more personal -- a premonition of my own death, maybe? I rarely recall my dreams so this made it the more troubling... .

Yesterday, barely minutes after I wrote the last entry there was a call from Joan, a lifelong friend whom I see rarely now. I was one of her grownup friends when she was a teenager and I served as godmother to her first born son, Michael. I have two godsons, Lyn and Michael. It was Lyn's father who was memorialized on Saturday.

While a student at U.C. Berkeley during the Vietnam War, Michael left the country for Cuba in a period of deep disillusionment and nationalist anger. He was a student activist during the turbulent Sixties and one of the casualties of the civil rights movement. He was handsome and bright and talented, and eventually became one of Cuba's young intellectuals with a radio program on Havana radio to much acclaim. He could never return to the US, though his parents and sister visited him on occasion, but I've never seen him again.

Joan was calling to tell me that Michael had died two weeks ago. It had been a brief illness. Michael had died of cancer of the esophagus -- the illness that had claimed Joan's father's life when Michael was still a baby. The anniversary of that death and Michael's was but a single day apart. Joan had flown to Cuba for services and wanted to let me know that their friends here were planning a memorial in early March. I was stunned! She sounded calm and sensible as I've always known her to be. No hysteria. But it's been a while since his death and it was only I who was unknowing at this point. Michael was the age of my middle son, Bob, and memories of them as children rushed back in these moments as I tried to catch my breath. It felt like a full blow to my body, and it hurt as if I'd been hit squarely with an invisible fist!

When I cradled the phone I sat for a long time sitting still and feeling relieved that it may now be over; the cycle of death. This was the third. No more, please. Let this be the end.

This weekend I will drive to the north coast to be with him. I'm telling myself that this is as much for Dorian as for me -- building up muscles for independence again. We've both regressed since she returned home, and I'm becoming more and more "Mama" with each day; infantilizing her into the role of "child". When she was still in her Oakland apartment, we'd worked out a nice relationship as super-friends, but that's been fading fast. She is delighted to have our condo to herself for the weekend, and I'm trying to not allow myself to see this as a self-serving strategy designed to free me to exercise my rights as woman. I'm not too sure that I have the answers yet, but we both appear to be enjoying a little distance in our relationship, so I won't question too closely.

In two weeks he and I will drive up to Ashland, Oregon, for 6 days -- and this weekend will serve as the dress rehearsal. Haven't told her about that yet. Not sure why, but maybe it has to do with not wanting her to have so much warning that she can plan mischief of some sort to get into while I'm gone. (Obviously, I'm not fully confident, right?)

The special bus service will pick her up each day for NIAD where she will spend her five hours. David will check with her each evening. She's a great mother to her two pet cats and considers them her children. They will need tending, and she's never been neglectful. (Not to worry, Mom!) I'll notify her caseworker and teachers that she'll be alone -- and that should do it.

Besides, the death cycle has now ended, hasn't it?

Here's to life!

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