Natasha Richardson

So here is the weekly update.

I continue to Twitter and find it more dull than not. It’s like being at a party where everyone is talking, unaware that no one is listening. Because no one is listening, honest. There are the celebs and twitterati who have thousands of followers they never bother to interact with – probably because there is no possible way to have tens or hundreds of thousands of “friends” – but more likely it is about the status having massive followings brings. Followers equal importance in the Twitsphere.

But I go along acquiring followers – the majority of whom I know from some other web venue – and follow them and a couple of others who seem interesting for the moment. I am letting Demi Moore go however. By all appearances, she tweets without guile, but I dislike following people who I don’t interact with. It just has a creepy vibe to it. Ana Marie Cox will likely be history soon for the same reason. Interesting but only there to be seen. Not interact. Which makes sense because she is a journalist, but it changes the aura of the place when it’s used as a means to an end only. A person can promote themselves, ideas, causes – whatever – without “talking” at people, can’t they? 

I guess it gets back to the difficulty I have with social media in general. It’s one way.

My piece yesterday on Natasha Richardson was a “hit”. I find that interesting because I was just reading a web post on blogging and the importance of nurturing your blog’s “pillars”. Writing about death, grief and myself are certainly pillars here and those posts are the most read over time. I guess I need to tend to those topics more.

Spring Break is coming up and this means we will be heading up into the mountains soon. Rob’s nephew, courtesy of Shelley, is getting married on the 28th. The bride and groom are exchanging vows in a small, private, ceremony atop a snow covered peak. The wedding party will be traveling up and back via helicopter and a dinner and reception dance will follow. We are caravaning with the older girls a day earlier and hopefully there won’t be any snow and the avalanche threat will be low.

I debated on going. I still would rather not go anywhere for break. I am tired of long road trips still. But there is a level of anticipation among the older girls because this is the first family gathering in several years that is not death related. I think that the first wedding of a grandchild is probably fraught even with unrealistic expectations as it is, but as I told Rob, I don’t think anyone is thinking about how hard it’s going to be to attend a wedding that so many people are missing due to being dead.

People tend to be on better behavior at funerals because of the solemnity, but weddings can be free-for-alls emotionally speaking because there isn’t the same expectation of bad feelings coming up. Throw in alcohol and things could be quite interesting.

But I am going. Minimally enthusiastic – because I don’t like alcohol fueled events – but with an open mind. 

Afterwards we are heading over to Penticton for a couple of days and then hauling for home because I have that workshop on the 4th. Which is mostly done but for practicing. I went through the outline with my writing group the other night and they really liked what I had put together. Been a while since I have put together a “lesson plan” but I am pleased.

Okay, I am done. Maybe I will update on the weekend a bit more. Otherwise, look for me on Twitter. I am toying with the idea of writing a twitter fic short. They write novels for cellphones afterall.

Like many people, I followed the Natasha Richardson story this week. She is the actress wife of actor Liam Neeson who was fatally injured in a skiing accident in Quebec. While details remain sketchy, it appears she suffered a head injury from a fall during  a ski lesson that initially did not seem serious but progressed rapidly to brain death and she was eventually taken off life support and allowed to die.

I am drawn to stories like this.

I shouldn’t call them stories, should I?

Natasha was a wife, mother, daughter, sister and on and on. A person who the other day was fine in all respects and is now gone. She leaves behind a husband, whose pain I wish I didn’t have first hand knowledge of, and two young sons. She’s not a story, but she is. 

We are all stories in the end.

I didn’t have to give the okay for Will to be removed from life support, but I did have to make the decision to refuse further treatment for his recurrent lung issues caused by his being bedridden and the aspiration issues caused by his increasing inability to swallow. I had to say no to the feed tube. Both things that could have prolonged his existence a few more months, or not. 

So I do know what it is like to have to decide for someone else and have that decision result in death. Even though it is the right thing to do, it doesn’t make it any easier or make you feel as though you did the right thing. Life should be fought for but existence should never be a goal.

My father suffered the last half of his life under the weight of such a decision. His younger brother was declared brain dead after a fall from a barn loft when I was eight years old. My sister, DNOS, and my mother always believed his drinking stemmed from the aftermath. He became the guardian of his father’s youngest sister who was living in a nursing home and of his mother as well. He also had to deal with his two oldest siblings and their coveting of Grandma’s inheritance which was considerable. There was quite a bit of rancor in the family for a number of years. But that is not what pushed Dad into the bottle.

It’s my belief that he struggled with the guilt of having been part of the decision to remove Uncle Jimmy from life support. Having to make the decision, even when it is right, is something that a person never quite finds peace with. I don’t believe Dad really ever did.

I feel for Natasha’s husband. Losing your partner is a terrible blow but having to make the call – makes it worse. I still sometimes feel as though I should have let the doctors’ treat Will one last time, but I know it wouldn’t have changed anything. He had been gone forever already – two and a half years – before he was physically able to die. My decision was the last gift I could give him. His freedom to go on, finally, to what comes next for us all – whatever that may actually be. 

This isn’t my tragedy, but it is a more common one than most of us realize.