Friday Firesmith (on a Wednesday)

Note: B&P Headquarters here: We’re still trying to figure out if/how B&P continues… Here’s one we missed getting out at the normal time.

When Debi died in April of last year, and yes, it is already last year, I had to deal with Death on a personal level. How personal, some of you can imagine, some of you cannot, and some of you will, most certainly. Her brother and I sat down at the kitchen table and created a strategy for what needed to be done, and who would do it, and when. Sheets and pillowcases had to be washed more often now, food had to be prepared, and medication given. 

And we would sit at the table, he and I, and for the first month, she would be there with us, and then she wasn’t able to sit in a chair anymore. “Do you know who I am?” I would ask, and she would smile, and tell me my name, then there came a time she would just smile. After she stopped smiling, I knew she was gone. 

We had conversations about Death, and what to do with what was left, and then those conversations ended, too. 

The last month we were just keeping the systems operating, the treatments ended, likely gone on too long, and the waiting began. Visitors came in, had one sided conversations, and they asked one question: When? And I would tell them what the doctors, and team of doctors, the whole of knowledge that kept the body living, and I would tell people what they said. 

The truth was I knew. I knew when she was going to leave because I knew the woman. I remember the way she turned her head to look at me, to say something important, a slight toss of her hair, and the way her shoulders set. All of that was gone, and everything else was, too. No one lived there anymore, and life cannot exist without some machinery to keep the body going if the spirit has already gone. 

The day she died, I called her son, but her brother was the first person to arrive. There was an internal debate as to what to say. “She’s gone” was what I had. He made an odd noise, and told me he was on the way. Hospice arrived, and after a few minutes, I left, knowing as soon as I stepped out of her bedroom I would never see her again.

I’m lucky to have had that time. We held hands, talked, shared meals, laughed about the funny things that had happened in those two years we were in love, and we talked about what was going to happen. I’m lucky to have been able to make peace with the process of dying. 

We lost Jon suddenly, instantly, and I never got to tell him how grateful I was, and am, for what he had done for me, and for having the partnership in writing we had. I never got to have a conversation about the end, or how he wanted to be remembered, and what for. 

I’m sorry we never had a chance to say goodbye. And that feeling is never going to leave me, or anyone else who cared about Jon. 

Take Care,


18 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith (on a Wednesday)”

  1. Mike: thank you for sharing.

    I agree: most of the time, we are unable to say “goodbye” to friends, family, and other loved ones who leave us too soon.

    The one possible different scenario I had was when a grandfather thought he was going to die–all of his family (kids, grandkids, etc.) called and said goodbye. Then he found out what he thought was his death spiral was actually inflammation of the vein linings–and steroids fixed that. He did die a couple of years later, but we had already said our goodbyes.

    But like with Jon, I have lost many people before I had a chance to say goodbye (friends and family). That does make it extra hard for us.

    To the B&P HQ team: if possible, it would be nice if you continued this blog if you are able. Thank you.

    • Tim, love doesn’t stop Death. But Death doesn’t stop life from going on, either. The irony is the longer you live the more people, pets, friends, you lose. Grandparents die, then parents, but to lose someone so quickly, someone so essential to the way we here have lived, hurts in a way that’s sharp.

  2. As always Mike, so eloquently stated. You captured what I, and I am most positive many of us are feeling. It’s like I was saying, get in the picture. I try make sure I do that now. I too have lost a few loved ones without warning.

    I second the idea of this blog continuing on. I have enjoyed it for the 15 or so years I’ve been coming here. I love the people, the feeling of community and belonging. It’s a beautiful little corner of the web free from drama.

  3. I still visit this page in hopes of seeing it was all a bad dream. Not sure what will happen with this site but the way I see it, there’s holding onto a memory that hopefully never fades and then there’s keeping a memory alive. Not sure which way this site will go, although I can hope for one over the other.

    Having said that, I know all things must end, I just hope it’s on the terms one intended.

    • CAI — ‘I still visit this page in hopes of seeing it was all a bad dream.’ I’ve been doing that, too. This is my plea that B&P continues! I wish I had followed his instructions. And it could be called Jon’s Bits & Pieces 🙂

    • CAI, it will be different without Jon, and in what ways we cannot imagine. In the ten years I worked for him, he was always willing to listen to what I had to say, and always willing to allow a piece of work to go as I intended, but he always had the last word, and I never argued with him. I put a lot of effort into a piece and he shot it down, telling me he thought it was great and funny, but just not for Bits and Pieces. And I knew he was right, as always.

  4. Hope it continues. Unlike The Presurfer and Nothing to do With Arbroath Jon is another one on the list of many great bloggers we’ve lost along the way but this one has a team around it. I’m hopeful you can all make it work.

  5. I love this blog and have been a frequent visitor for years. While I didn’t know Jon, I understand the profound sense of loss when one loses a friend and family member. I hope this blog continues and am willing to help make sure it does.

  6. Absolutely, we must grieve our loss, it’s human nature, part of who we are. But while we grieve and later when we’ve come to terms with our loss, we should thank our lucky stars for what we had. Be grateful to have experienced that incomparable warmth shared by people who have connected.
    Since I’m nine months younger than Keith Richards, I’ve lost all my family except a much younger brother. All my old friends I fished and drag raced with, lovers, and even enemies. Only the good die young.

  7. So sorry for the loss of a loved one! This Blog is the first one I go to every day. Hope you can keep it going.

  8. Lovely words as always Mike. I too hope this blog continous in some format. I am grateful for the people I call friends that I have virtually met
    through this website. Without Jon this would have never happened

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