Kage Baker knew how hard it is to speak of the newly dead. She couldn’t talk about her parents at all, just after they died. She spoke of them rarely afterwards, and usually only to close friends. She never memorialized birthdays or death dates; she said it hurt too much. But they were always in her thoughts, somewhere – everything she wrote was for their approval, wherever they were.
She figured, though, that they weren’t paying attention, especially after they were both gone into the Uttermost West and had found one another again. Her theory was that they were driving through an endless vista of the Hollywood Hills, young and in love, in a pink convertible.
Here at Chez Famille … we are still reeling from the death of my brother-in-law, Raymond Richard Miller. He died at 8:59 AM on July 10th, after a brief and dreadful battle with liver cancer. I think – I hope and pray, as well – that it was harder on us caregivers than it was on Ray; it only seemed to be really painful for the last 48 hours. Prior to that, he steadfastly maintained he was not in pain, just tired; when we had to guess, as it grew harder and harder for him to speak, we fed him painkillers anyway on general principles. He seemed to appreciate it.
Ray was a good man. He did not deserve so hard a going as he got. He fought hard to stay, and when he was too tired – he fought just as hard to go. His traitor body did not indulge him in either effort, making him stay until the mainspring ran down on his personal clock. He was with us almost to the end, though, enough to ask for water and complain about the taste of the morphine and leave a message for his son, Michael.
He always had had sleep apnea. When I was sure he was gone, Kimberly bent over him – and he drew a deep breath and resumed breathing. I jumped, and she began to laugh through her tears, saying: “One last jump scare! How Ray!” While we were gasping and giggling helplessly, he slipped out from under our hands. And that was that.
We have been cleaning house, tidying things away, notifying friends and family, fighting with all the legal rag tag and bobtail that follows after a death like minor demons. And we are trying to take care of one another. We are managing, but sudden tears and bad tempers crop up all the time. Kimberly reminds me, though, that I also have an audience, who would like to know where the hell I have got to … and I do still have stories to tell. More than before, even.
It took me 6 months to begin writing about Kage, and more than that to write about her death. It’s not even a fortnight since Ray died – it’s very hard to write at all, let alone about him. But I want and need to write. I wonder if I should be ashamed of myself, that I ache to resume writing? Ray would say No. Hell, no! Kimberly certainly does.
For tonight, though, I have to keep this brief. It’s hard to type, with tears streaming; I need to wipe my eyes and blow my nose and compose myself. Then I can compose something else for tomorrow.
Tonight, we shall watch Midsomer Murders, and eat Boston Cream Pie, and keep one another company.
Hold your loved ones tightly, Dear Readers.