All at once a universal loss, while so unexpectedly unique for each person who loved strange.

To the question, "What's the point of living if you just die?", Raj Bains from Sacramento, California had this to say:

"The point of life is whatever you make it. There really doesn't need to be any point to life or any particular aspect of it; most things are worth doing for their own sake. You don't watch a movie or read a book or hug a child because there is some sort of overriding existential purpose for doing so, you do those things because they are enjoyable and/or important to you.
The universe even gives a few suggestions in the form of biological imperatives. For simple life, that merely means reproduction. For more intelligent life, that includes things like satisfying their curiosity, enjoying the world through all of their senses, passing on knowledge/ideas, and experiencing things like love and friendship.
This question seems to imply that a religious purpose gives life meaning. The truth is, religious purpose deprives life of meaning. It turns life into a bizarre tryout for heaven and makes the here and now completely unimportant. There's no reason to seek knowledge of the way the world works if this is just temporary and the only reason we're here is to convince God that we're going to join his fan club so that he won't punish us (because he apparently has the maturity and temperament of a 4-year old). Most religions go a step further and actually forbid engaging in earthly delights while they eat up loads of the person's time and money.
The knowledge that our time is limited (and that there is nothing after) is what lights a fire under our asses to go out and get things done, to figure out how things work, to improve technology, to try to make life better, to care about issues in the world. People are so busy being afraid of death that they fail to realize that it is ultimately our primary motivation and the only reason life has any sense of urgency.
Death is the only thing which gives life meaning."

Beautifully spoken, indeed. But no less bullshit. Lose someone you love more than life itself, then come back and tell me that. The problem is that ninety percent of the time, anyone who spouts off about death is really talking about making peace with the inevitability of their own. In fact, dying's not the problem with death at all. It's living with the loss of someone else that really fucking hurts. And it's grief that steals the meaning from life, as well as from the bullshit we like to say about it.

(Or at least, that's the bullshit I apparently feel the need to share...)

-L (12/31/10)

P.S. Happy freakin' New Year, y'all. May it be a little easier than the last.

And then the days became briefer, still.

Mi hermana hermosa,

First Christmas, come and gone; four months to the day of what should have been your 22nd birthday. Can't believe the speed of time these days, nor the space it holds. Or for whom.

Today, down time; tomorrow, tattoos and your house, revisited. Last night we played soccer-tennis out in the well-lit courts of Murdy Park, HB, and now the crown of my head feels like a sore, braided muscle every time I forget not to touch it. (Luckily my thinking hasn't been too affected, so far as I can tell.) It dawned on me and stayed, the knowing that you sh/would have been right there with us--and even so, would likely have refused to play. Like R's board games; or my climbing. Neither your style nor taste, but how unfailingly you stand-right-by to stay connected; interacting and ever-present, yet one step away. Sitting there texting. Giving us as much of yourself as you could, but never crossing the line of your own in-stone boundaries...and all the while loving us for loving what we love. (Why didn't we play more freakin' cards with you, more often?!)

Gabriel's first birthday is coming up, too. January 5th, 2011. Yesterday we celebrated it early so that the California crowd could participate before R and J make their trek back up to Washington. It struck me that he was practically the only kid there, our nephew--and all the rest a-freakin'-dults! (With the exception of Amber's nearly-4-year-old, Aaden, of course.) How it kills me to think that you won't see this first baby of any of our brothers grow up! You who would have bought him the best gifts; taken him to the sickest concerts; made all his friends jealous to have such a gorgeous aunt; snuck him his first fake-id, only to rail him if he dared "misuse" it... He will forever be my gauge, though I know it's not fair: one year further along for him; one more year farther away from you. The older he gets, the younger you'll seem to be. The more he changes, the more you'll stay the same... How sad is this? How unfair?

But I know this is an old story by now, our endless disappointment. What with the days becoming briefer and the time flying by like pennies tarnishing in a koi pond. You're the angel on our tree this year, love. You and a floppy red Santa's hat, that really ought to be pink silk with faux diamonds, sparkling. J's birthday will follow Gabriel's, and then Grandma's (who'll soon get her first tattoo at 80-something, she thinks...a bow, of course), and then Dad's and A's and yours, and then all the rest of ours. One by one, delineating the year in the only way we know how--by counting, one day at a time. They say this year will be the hardest; I'm pretty sure they'll all be the same.

-L (12/27/10)

Two Months. ("Dos meses...y como ayer.")

Hey girlfriend,

You wouldn't be impressed with me right now. I'm a little bit drunk, a little bit stoned, and a lotta bit downtrodden. It's two months today, and I feel as raw as an oyster, just slid from her shell. Every silly 'indiscretion' committed by another person today was earth-shattering; ridiculously distressing. Midday I called our texting mama, telling my boss she was surely having a rough day. Really, I just needed to get the fuck out of work for a minute--to lament you with someone who kinda-sorta understood...maybe even better than I? (And I swear to God I just heard a girl's cough on the front porch, although I know I'm alone. Look! Sierra heard it, too! But now she's putting her head down & going back to sleep...forgetting it ever happened. I wish I could do the same.)

My head feels heavy.  My heart, empty.  And my eyes are starting to sting.  ("No es justo.")
I love you so very much.

-L (12/10/10)

(Talking in terms of YEARS, now, rather than DAYS. Counter-intuitive, I know.)

Beautiful Baby Sister,

How the tears come less loyally now!! (Already?)

*The look of my life from here on out, now that it's without you:

Year. Years You Aren't. Years Gone. Years I Am. Life.
2010 21 0 26 Law School & Sadness
2011 22 1 27 Law School
2012 23 2 28 Pass the Bar
2013 24 3 29 Work
2014 25 4 30 Work & Sadness
2015 26 5 31 Pay Off School Debt
2016 27 6 32 Become Foster Parent
2017 28 7 33 Work and Foster
2018 29 8 34 Work and Foster
2019 30 9 35 Work, Foster, Sadness
2020 31 10 36 Write a Book
2021 32 11 37 Write & Travel
2022 33 12 38 Write & Travel
2023 34 13 39 Write & Travel
2024 35 14 40 Write, Travel, Sadness
2025 36 15 41 Retire, So On and So Forth, Eventually Die.

What do you think, baby girl? I'm just so afraid of living without you for any longer than I got to live with you...*

So, 21 years from now: I'll be 47 (almost as old as mama and dadda are today...). That's pretty freakin' good if you ask me! I've decided that I'll make it that far if I'm given the option. Of course, you would have been 42 at that point, had you lived...the age that I always used to think of as officially "old". And all the while, years had nothing to do with it. (Though I always thought that I already knew that.)

-L (12/7/10)

Bliss of drifting.


The weight of the world, like nothing. Broken glass; stubbed toe. I don't go to Pergolesi much anymore. Our place, no more. And too hard.

But hard like nothing's hard, so much as viscous. Going would be muddy; unbearably effortless. As if it were anywhere--just another coffee shop. Maybe a little bit more pretentious, if anything. Not the slightest trace of you anywhere. You--so very there, and yet nowhere; no one. As if I weren't haunted by it everywhere. By your face not in the crowd. And forever bitter to not also be haunted by you...

Mama's in Arizona tonight. Yesterday it was New Mexico; Colorado; Utah. She's driving around aimlessly--not looking for you since you're always, but finding out how not anywhere you are. Seems appropriate not to look for anything else, I suppose. So wandering...yes. Fitting. Enviable.

I want you to be alive again. This 'dead' shit just ain't working out for you so well, girlfriend. (As far as I can tell...) Not for you--not for any of us. I miss your ridiculous "little sister" know-it-all wisdom when you'd refuse to let me try a drag off your cigarette, or never bothered yourself with my worldly and arrogant recommendations of the greatest musical artists of all freakin' time. Even now, though, I'll start a thought/memory/realization by jotting it down on paper, and then lo' and behold!, it's already looking inaccurate/disingenuous/shallow; sounding tinny & flat to my mind's own ears.

Because, yes, 'consistency' is your middle name, along with 'reliable', 'driven', 'certain', 'generous'. But then, so is 'stubborn,' 'impatient,' 'withholding'. And 'grateful', 'humble', 'self-deprecating', 'so-very-loving'. What do I make of this?! Because up against every story of you is a counter-story, dismissing expectations. Like how you came to live with me and managed to split rent even straight out of high school. Or how you used to tell me that you always felt taken care of when you were with me--so much so that you'd forget your wallet at home though it's usually glued to your hip, or buried somewhere in one of your biggest, brightest, gaudiest of designer purses. Or how the tears would rush down your cheeks after I tried my best to discern your inscrutable expression--to read your face aloud to you--and you'd tell me how much you loved never having to explain.

(But now the end of all that understanding seems as final as a car crash...)

-L (12/6/10)