I Wonder Which of All These Things

What a winter it’s been. I’ve been thinking a lot about Maggie E. who died suddenly a week ago. We were not really friends but I’ve known her for a long time. She worked with Knox and I remember her from a thousand years ago when she had a band with Julia Murphy and they would get up and walk out of the meeting in Soho like the cool kids in high school. A few years ago at the annual Christmas dinner at Knox and Laura’s, we sat together and talked about writing and dogs.

Anyway, I don’t want to get into some kind of maudlin eulogy here. I didn’t know her well. I resisted knowing her. There was something about her that I found off-putting, in fact. I’m a very mistrustful person. It’s hard for me to let people in, and maybe she was the same way, so we were wary. Still, her death has really affected me. I’ve thought of her every day. It makes no sense that she’s dead.

It’s been one death after another this winter — and it’s been a terrible winter, too, bleak and discouraging.

She was healthy — that’s what I keep thinking. She was a vegan and did yoga and was only fifty years old (almost fifty-one, a Pisces like me.) I have Facebook messages from her and went back and read them and thought, “how can she be dead?” She had no plan to be dead. Or no public plan.

She seemed to still be trying to figure things out like how to convince people to stop eating animals, and how to make money, and who to love next. She was sexual and a wise-ass. She was writing a new book.

Like many, I’m sure, I’ve read her blog this week. There are actually many references to her heart, which wouldn’t be strange if she hadn’t died of a heart attack. In one post she’s talking to an old neighbor who eats meat. She’s trying to get him to see the light, giving him reasons to stop. She taps her chest cavity, indicating her own ticking time bomb heart which was only months away from killing her.

I wonder which of all these things
Now quietly sings
A premonition?

There are also references to friends she lost, the shocking nature of it. We don’t expect people to die. Even though we know it’s inevitable for all of us. If you read the obituaries in the NY Times, as I have started to do, you see that most people seem to live well into their seventies and eighties, so it is a surprise when a girlish looking fifty year old woman has a heart attack and dies.

It’s interesting how when someone dies they burn bright in your mind. While they’re alive you can resent them or judge them or forget them. But once they’re gone, you think of them in a different way.

I think of my father every day without exception. I miss him and wish I could talk to him. I know I’ll feel like this until I die, which could be anytime. Who knows?

If we knew in advance, we’d never leave anything until later. We’d say, “I love you, you know. I’ve always loved you.”

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