Tag Archives: death

On that singular day

I saw Greg Louganis dive in St. Louis
in 1984. Oh, the way he folded and
unfolded in the air. We all gasped
when he split the surface and disappeared.
But he rose up in a shimmering swath
of bubbles, unbounded joy.

Seventeen years later, a man steps out
through the lattice of a skyscraper and
folds himself into a breathtaking pike.
An anonymous diver, abandoning his
day job. Maybe you’ve seen the
photograph? A single body falling, white
oxford full and fluttering, like a peony,
blowsy, on that singular day.

–“The Diver,” Christine Hartzler

Today I am in my late twenties again.

Today I am waking up early in my town in the American southwest to the sound of people shouting on my apartment complex balcony. It is a day I can sleep in. I am working the late shift. I am not pleased to wake up to people shouting this early in the morning. I go out on the balcony and glare at them. They don’t seem to notice. Or care. Even though I’m in my pajamas and my hair is quite fearsome.

Today I am realizing there’s no point in going back to sleep and I might as well run some errands since I have the morning free.

Today I get ready without turning on the television or the radio.

Today I run errands while listening to a tape I have in the car. It’s a Hole kind of day. Courtney Love screams me around town.

Today I still don’t turn on the radio.

Today I get to my old job to help out a little since I’m up early. It is a thing I do, sometimes.

Today I walk in the door and there are people in a tangled knot around the small television in the lobby. The sound is low. No one’s at the front desk.

Today I ask one of my old coworkers what was going on.

Today she turns to me and says, “Two planes flew into the World Trade Center” and her eyes are holes in her face.

Today I ask her, “An accident? There was an accident?”

Today she says, “No. No, Amy, I don’t think so. I think it was on purpose.”

Today I stand in a crowd of people, strangers and friends alike, and we are all as one. Today we watch the television in the lobby and it grows to the size of a movie screen. Today we watch the towers fall. Today we watch news reports come in about the Pentagon. Today we watch news reports come in about a field in Pennsylvania.

Today our hands are over our eyes and our mouths. Today we are sobbing but not making a sound. Today we are praying. Today we are smelling autumn coming in through the propped-open doors of the lobby and we are running through the list of people we know in New York City and we are wondering if they also smelled this autumn morning and we are thinking, were they there? Oh, please, oh, no, oh, God, were they there?

Today I go broken and empty to my afternoon shift at work. My coworker is from Pennsylvania. I am from New York. We are barely holding it together. We are inches from screaming. We are being held together with fraying rubber bands and sheer adrenaline.

Today our boss decides we are not paying enough attention to our job and makes us turn off the television that presides with its cold unfeeling stare over the lobby.

Today we take turns shaking and vomiting and weeping in the bathroom where the clients and our boss can’t see us.

Today I get home from work and turn on the television and watch the ticker of the dead crawl along the bottom of the screen. The channel I’m watching tells the ages of those on the planes. One of the dead is just a baby. I’m having trouble breathing. Functioning. I’m watching the towers fall on endless repeat. I’m watching men leap from windows with a sort of corrupted grace. I am watching survivors painted gray with ashes stream over and over from the city I love so much. I am shaking. I am curled upon myself like a lost child. I am trying to count the dead in the ticker and I keep losing count and it seems very important, somehow, that I know how many of them there were. That each of them are counted. That each of them get given a name; that each of them get given their due.

Today, when my next-door-neighbor comes home, she asks me how I am.

Today, I tell her, “I don’t want to live in this world right now. The good got lost today.”

Today I live all of this all over again. Today and next year and the year after that; every today, I am the person I was on that day.

Today the towers fall, and they fall, and they fall; every today they fall.

“You’ve got to just figure out a way to sort of take what happens and go forward and try to do the best you can”

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” –George Orwell

Sometimes something just hits you on a lot of different levels.

Dad told me about someone who’d died recently. Someone from home. Well, he’d moved away, so it was someone I’d never known, but I knew his family. His uncle was actually my dentist, growing up. It was a small area. Most of us had the same providers – dentists, doctors, hairdressers. You shopped for clothes at the same place. You were all homogenized. You were all bricks in the wall.

This kid’s family was kind of a big deal. He was born a few towns over. His dad was a heart surgeon, his mother was a doctor, both of his brothers eventually became doctors, his grandfather was a doctor, his uncle was a dentist. Dad said I probably would have met him eventually, but the family had moved away before the kids grew up. I didn’t pay a lot of attention. What attention was I going to pay to the brother of my dentist and his family? I was a kid. It’s not like we hung in the same social circles. Hell, when I was that age, I didn’t HAVE a social circle. I read. It is what I did.

But this kid spent some of his formative years in the same environment I did. There are a couple types of people who come out of our area: the kind that love it, and stay forever, raising their own families; and the type that escape and don’t look back, and don’t GO back, other than for brief visits or familial obligations like birthdays or weddings or the ever-popular funeral.

I’m not judging the people who stay. There needs to be a place for everyone. Some people love it up north. And it is pretty, if you like such things. Very naturey. If you buy a house, you usually get a butt-ton of land along with it. So you can have like a garden and a tree-swing or something, I don’t know. And if you like to drive a really long way to get to things like, oh, I don’t know, stores, or movie theaters, then this is the place for you. Or if you want to keep a billion goats. Or if you want to be a farmer.

However, there are those of us who move away because a small town chafes, and in a small town people know everything you do all the time, and in a small town people have VERY long memories, and remember you when you were three and fell in a mud puddle and eight and vomited on the school bus and sixteen and dated that guy that cheated on you. And they don’t hesitate to bring these things up. And they still treat you like the person you were, not like the person you are. And driving half an hour to buy milk is ridiculous, especially in the winter. THOSE LITTLE UNPAVED ROADS ARE SLIPPERY.

Some of us move away because a small town chafes and we wonder, what else is out there? Because we can hear those other things calling to us. And we answer the call. And we don’t look back.

This is Michael Hastings. Until he was 11, he grew up in the same area as I did. And last week, he died. Did you know about this?

He was a journalist. He wrote for Buzzfeed and GQ and Newsweek and Rolling Stone. He was tenacious. He fought for things he believed in. People threatened him if he dared publish some of his stories; he published them anyway. His fiancée died in Baghdad in 2008; he met and married another writer a few years later, but wrote a book about the loss of his fiancée in a war he not only didn’t believe in, but he believed we’d been lied to about.

In 2010, he had an article published in Rolling Stone about General Stanley McChrystal, who was the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in the Afghanistan war.

McChrystal didn’t like the president. If you don’t like the president and are in the military, you shush it. Because, no matter your politics, the president is your commander-in-chief. McChrystal didn’t seem to think he needed to operate under the same rules as everyone else, and in front of a reporter, he criticized the president. Some reports say that Hastings got death threats before he published the article. He published it anyway. McChrystal got a call from the White House, which I believe is very much like getting a very big “See Me” in red at the bottom of your paper in school. He was asked to step down. Guess who took his place? Good old Petraeus. What’s up with these generals doing boneheaded things, I have to ask you? I get it’s a high-pressure position, but seriously, take up a hobby like maybe video games or crochet or something because DAMN, can you even imagine getting called into Obama’s office and being scolded and then fired? It would be SO EMBARRASSING.

I would totally cry if I saw this face, I'm not even kidding.

I would totally cry if I saw this face, I’m not even kidding.

(The New York Times, in Hastings’ obituary, strangely tried to backpedal and say that the article might have not been the most factual, but Rolling Stone stands behind it, saying they have recordings of every moment of interview to back up the words. I have to believe Obama’s administration wouldn’t have let a general of that level go based on just an article without looking into it a little more deeply, and it seems shady of the Times to put that out there after the guy was gone.)

Hastings was confrontational and a little shouty and sometimes cussed at famous people and had kind of a fast-and-loose writing style that got all the facts in there, but skated the edge of sarcasm in a somewhat delightful way. It was journalism for the ADD-generation. But it wasn’t stupid. It was intelligent and well-written and surprisingly world-weary for someone not even in his mid-thirties yet.

On June 18, he sent out this email to his friends:

And then a few hours later, according to eyewitnesses, he was seen driving his Mercedes as fast as it would go in Los Angeles. He crashed into a tree. The car exploded. They had to identify him from a composite of fingerprints and dental records.

The police closed the case almost immediately; they said there was no evidence of foul play. The FBI was quick to step up and say they weren’t investigating him, even though normally, the FBI doesn’t bother commenting at all on what they’re up to. Others who know him, who know the area, and who know that type of car, aren’t so sure this is so cut-and-dried.

The car shouldn’t have exploded. Why was he driving like that? Why was he even there? Why was the FBI asking his friends questions? Why did the police close the case so quickly? What was the big story? (Some say he was onto something having to do with the Petraeus case; some say it was something bigger, maybe CIA-related.)

You know what Dad has to say about this. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, of course you do.

“That’s what your government does, Amy. Your government kills people. To shut them up. That’s what they do.”

Dad, much like Sugar-Tits Gibson in the conspiracy lunatic movie, thinks the government is plotting to KILL! US! ALL!

Dad, much like Sugar-Tits Gibson in the conspiracy lunatic movie, thinks the government is plotting to KILL! US! ALL!

(Dad also told me not to write a blog post about this, or I’ll be the one silenced next. And if I WAS foolish enough to write about this, when I got in my car after work tonight, check for A., cut brake lines, B., a ticking sound as if there’s a shoebox bomb under my seat, C., the failure to start immediately, which means there’s an ignition bomb “or at least that’s what happened in a show I watched one time,” or D. a blanket in my backseat that wasn’t there when I got to work and it’s kind of lumpy, because under that is a contract killer who will pop up when I’m halfway home and kill me dead dead dead.)

I don’t know if there’s a conspiracy. I have to agree the whole thing seems Scooby-Doo-and-the-gang hinky. I like the writing I’ve read from this guy. He wrote well. He gets my respect for that. Whether or not he was the greatest guy, had the highest moral standard – well. I didn’t know him. I know if you’re good at something, if you’re very good at something, you get a sort of tunnel-vision. You see that thing you’re good at and you don’t see much else. I think his tunnel-vision was reporting. He wanted the truth to be out there for general consumption. He also, whether it’s a selfish thing or not, wanted to be the one doing that – breaking the news, getting the accolades for it. Hell, why not. If you’re good at it, why not be the one getting the kudos.

But did the FBI kill this guy because he was onto something and then cover it up? Oh, I hope not. I really hope that’s not the case.

Listen. I (not surprisingly) have a soft spot for our writers. I have an additional soft spot for our reporters. It’s easy to read the paper or articles on the internet and not see the author that wrote them. It’s easy to read for information and not for the heart that’s beating behind it, for the person that did the work to bring that to you.

I still carry the romance of journalism around inside me. I always thought it would be just brilliant to be that person, the one getting up at 2am to cover a breaking story, the one typing toward deadline, dealing with the copyeditors, holding a fresh copy of your work in your hand, knowing people were reading your words with their morning coffee. I have a little of that now that I’m able to write theater reviews and I’m over the moon about it. I’ve had friends who’ve been that person, the person who writes the stories, who have to deliver the not-so-pretty truth to the masses. I know how hard it is. And I respect the hell out of these people. (And honestly, envy them. Just a little. OK. A lot.)

I will never not think this happens in all newspaper offices as long as I live. ACTION! ROMANCE! TYPEWRITERS!

I will never not think this happens in all newspaper offices as long as I live. ACTION! ROMANCE! TYPEWRITERS!

If this is some sort of cover-up and not a terrible accident (Dad: “Of COURSE it is. Get your head out of the sand. You’ll get sand fleas”) then I’m disappointed in wherever this order came from. And I’m (again, again, AGAIN, it seems like I am more than I’m not, nowadays, doesn’t it?) disappointed in my country. Because you don’t kill your writers. You don’t kill the seekers of truth. You don’t kill the people who are looking to disseminate that truth out to the public.

Or, well, yes. You do. You do, because those people scare you. Because there’s nothing more dangerous than the truth. And you need to make them be quiet. And there’s no sure-fire way to do that, so you silence them permanently.

He was a small-town boy for the first 11 years of his life, though. He grew up where I did. The same landscape molded him as molded me. He carried the same sounds and sights and smells around in him as I do. We came from the same soil. We had the same shared experiences flowing in our veins.

I like to think, somewhat optimistically, that at some point in the past, we crossed paths; that our eyes met and we saw there the shared understanding that we were meant to get out, that we were meant for other worlds than this.

And I mourn him. And I mourn the loss of a distinctive voice, and I mourn the loss of someone who, when presented with death threats if he dared publish the truth, shrugged and had the article hit the presses anyway. I admire the drive that compels one to write. I admire the drive that compels one to right.

I feel we lost someone who could have helped us find our way a little more clearly last week, and this hit me hard.

Stay safe, writers; stay safe, those who bring us the truths, both large and small. We need you more now than ever.

(Title from a transcript of an interview with Hastings, here)

Musings on the virtues of a Norse funeral

I am terrible with a lot of things. Most of them social-related. But most of all, I am terrible with the grief of others. Most specifically, the grief when someone has died.

I never know, when someone has passed away, what to say. I assume you’re supposed to say, “I’m so sorry.” But then I think, everyone says that. So does the mourning person need to hear that AGAIN? Really? Don’t they think you’re being very disingenuous if you’re just saying the same thing everyone has said? But if you try to shake it up and you say something like “He/she is in a better place,” well, I think the mourning person has a right to punch you in the schnozz. Dead is a better place? Than being alive? And there next to you so you can talk to them and hug them and tell them how much you love them? I mean, I guess. If they’d been burned over 98% of their body and were in agonizing PAIN or something. But otherwise, no. Earth is a better place. Isn’t it? At least most of the time?

Better to be here than...wherever. Right? I'll take the devil I know over the devil I don't, thanks.

Better to be here than…wherever. Right? I’ll take the devil I know over the devil I don’t, thanks.

Mostly I just give them a hug and kind of a sad face like I am SO SAD that I don’t know what to say. It’s not completely false. I don’t know what to say. Because that grief, that loss, is huge. And my stupid, awkward, clumsy words aren’t going to make it any better.

This is why I avoid going to wakes and funerals as much as I can. Because if you’re not there, you don’t have to say these things. You can send a card. It’s completely acceptable to write “I am so sorry for your loss” in a card. Or “If there’s anything I can do, please let me know.” Or things like that. That doesn’t seem as weird as those words coming out of your awkward stupid mouthhole.

Also, wakes are the worst because of the dead person. The dead person hanging out RIGHT THERE.

There was a photo of someone glamour-shotting in front of a coffin here, but she contacted me and said there was a lawyer and a stolen photo and something about it being tradition to glamour shot in front of dead people in her family and I don't even know so I took it down just in case of lawsuits.  As one does.

There was a photo of someone glamour-shotting in front of a coffin here, but she contacted me and said there was a lawyer and a stolen photo and something about it being tradition to glamour shot in front of dead people in her family and I don’t even know so I took it down just in case of lawsuits. As one does.

I’m trying to think, and if I’m remembering correctly, I’ve been to maybe four wakes in my whole life? Maybe five. Or six. I wonder if I went to my great-grandparents’ wakes? I was pretty young when they died. As you can see, that averages out to about one every ten years, unless you count my great-grandparents, which I don’t think I will. My plan to avoid wakes so I’m not the awkward weirdo in the room is going SPLENDIDLY. Three were family members and one was a close friend’s relative and I love her and her family so much that I didn’t care about the awkwardness, I was going to be there for her, dammit. And I was.

And I’ve been to two funerals. They’re not AS awkward. And after my first one I was very sad we didn’t get to do that cool “throwing dirt on the dead person’s coffin” thing that they do on television. I always wanted to do that. Do only certain religions do that? I’m honestly curious. Or is that only a television thing?

See? The Pretty Little Liars got to do it. I WANT TO THROW DIRT DRAMATICALLY!

See? The Pretty Little Liars got to do it. I WANT TO THROW DIRT DRAMATICALLY!

Anyway. The dead person. OK, so the dead person is just hanging out there, and the dead person is so made-up they look whorish, and I realize (listen, I watched a LOT of Six Feet Under) that if there was no makeup on the dead person, that dead person would look, well, dead. All gray and sunken and it’d be like four hours in the room with a zombie corpse. I get it. But Andreas told me the other night that the point of an open coffin was closure. Well, wouldn’t people get more closure from seeing the dead the way they really are, as opposed to all tarted up? I mean, sincerely. My poor grandmother was made up like a $2 Amsterdam whore. (NO, I have no idea if there are $2 whores. Don’t all go flocking to Amsterdam to find these $2 whores and report back to me all angry they charge substantially more. I USED $2 TO MAKE A POINT.) My grandfather had so much base on he looked like he’d been tanning. He would have been SO ANGRY about this.

Kind of like this. ONLY IT WAS MY GRANDFATHER. I know, disconcerting, yeah?

Kind of like this. ONLY IT WAS MY GRANDFATHER. I know, disconcerting, yeah?

Also, and I know we’ve talked about this before, but the amount of sentimental crap, the garbage tchotchkes, that people put in the coffin with the dead person? INFURIATE AND DISGUST ME. This is the most hilarious thing in the world to my dad. He knows how much this upsets me so all he has to do to get me to rant is to say, “Hey, Amy, when you die, want me to put little crystal animals in your coffin with you?” and he’ll get a twenty-minute harangue about “WHAT THE HELL OLD MAN? THIS ISN’T THE GLASS MENAGERIE! I AM NOT BLUE ROSES! AND IF YOU ALLOW PEOPLE TO PUT TRASH IN MY COFFIN I WILL HAUNT YOU TO *YOUR* GRAVE! THIS IS WHY I WANT TO BE CREMATED!!!” Then he laughs and laughs.

The dead person does not need a magnifying glass. What, so he can peer around in the afterlife? No. That is foolish.

The dead person does not need a magnifying glass. What, so he can peer around in the afterlife? No. That is foolish.

Also, you get fake-criers? Do you know what I mean by this? People who I think LIVE for death like vultures of mourning and they come up to the grieving family and they’re all “I AM SO SO-HO-HO-REEEE” and then they like shake with all the grief and when they finally move the hell on, one of the family members asks another, “Who was that?” in a hushed tone out of the side of their mouth, and NO ONE KNOWS. Because they’re NOT EVEN TANGENTIALLY INVOLVED WITH THE DEAD PERSON. They are GHOULS. PROFESSIONAL MOURNING GHOULS. Now, before you say “Amy, come on, everyone has their own way to show grief,” no. I don’t even care. Being obnoxious and making a funeral all about you is not appropriate.

BOB IS DEAAAAAAD! And how did you know the deceased? Oh, I read about him in the paper, I didn't know him at all. SO SAAAAAD, THOUGH!!!!

BOB IS DEAAAAAAD! And how did you know the deceased? Oh, I read about him in the paper, I didn’t know him at all. SO SAAAAAD, THOUGH!!!!

(Also, I’ve already informed my parents that when they die, I’m hiding in the back of the funeral home. Or, even better, under my bed. Because I refuse to be in the line of people that all the mourning people come through and condole and touch. TOUCH! Can you even IMAGINE? I don’t know those people. I don’t want my grief on display. WHY ARE WE SO GHOULISH ABOUT MOURNING IN THIS COUNTRY?)

Seriously, I want to put our dead on a boat, light the boat on fire, and set that ship a’sailin’. The Vikings had the right idea. This whole thing is stressing me the hell out.

Yes. This. Please. Thank you.

Yes. This. Please. Thank you.

All of this snarky leadup is to tell you that my beloved great-aunt Jan passed away last week and I will be attending her wake tonight which is an hour away in the town where she used to live and I will be seeing my extended family who I love very much and my father was on vacation but he cut it ten days short because it was his last aunt or uncle left on that side and he’s kind of devastated and made a marathon drive back from Florida for the services and I don’t best know how to handle all of this. Not even a little bit. So what I do when I’m freaked out is I become very inappropriately sarcastic because that is the wall I hide my pain behind. What? That’s not normal? Too bad, it’s all I know.

(Also, FYI, through a snafu of miscommunication, where did I find out about her death? THROUGH A FACEBOOK POST. It was one of those “I thought your father would tell you!” “I thought your mother would tell you!” things. No. I READ ABOUT IT ON MY LUNCH BREAK AT WORK. This is not what Facebook is for. Facebook is for theater announcements, kitten GIFs, and people getting ranty about politics. THAT IS ALL THANK YOU.)

Aunt Jan was my grandmother’s baby sister and she was awesome, you guys. She got married and had three very little kids and then her husband died in a terrible accident only a handful of years into their marriage and she raised those kids all by herself. (And those kids became three amazing adults that I love to pieces, and their kids are great, too.)

And damn, did she rock the cat-eye glasses. She was ADORABLE.

She was tough as nails. She was a nurse and a teacher and she was wickedly sarcastic and funny and one of the most independent and intelligent women I’ve ever had the honor to know. She was never on time for anything and she couldn’t sleep any better than my dad and I can and when she laughed, you couldn’t help but laugh along with her, because she laughed with her whole self. And she listened and cared with her whole self, too. She was just the best. And she was tiny, only a little over five feet, but she was a FORCE. She entered a room and you KNEW. She and her sister, my grandmother, were the best of friends, and went on many jaunty adventures together, just the two of them, getting into all kinds of shenanigans. And when my grandmother died, and I’d talk to Jan, sometimes I would just close my eyes, because they had the same voice. And I could pretend my grandmother was still talking to me and she wasn’t gone from my life forever because, oh, you guys. How much I miss my grandmother. How much I miss hearing her voice. How much I miss making her laugh.

(She liked funny faces in photos, too. I didn't get all my traits from the neighbors.)

(Jan liked funny faces in photos, too. I didn’t get all my traits from the neighbors.)

Two years ago, she had a stroke, which is what my grandmother died of, and I broke one of my most important rules and went to the hospital to see her, because I was not able to see my grandmother before she died because I lived five hours away and everyone said, “no! Don’t worry, don’t bother coming home” and I didn’t and then she was gone and I couldn’t have lived with myself if that happened again. (I avoid hospitals as I avoid wakes or funerals. Hospitals are where they put your loved ones before they die and no one escapes and they smell like death and despair and soup and cheap cleanser and they make my chest hurt.) Even though the hospital still smelled like death and I felt like probably I would die the minute I entered, I soldiered on. She looked terrible and so small and there were a million tubes and wires and her eyes looked so scared and my family was all exhausted and I hate these things, you know? I find death very stupid and very terrible and I don’t know how to deal with it. And, as mentioned, my default is humor, but I highly doubt that’s appropriate there. (Not that it doesn’t slip out sometimes. And sometimes it’s totally appreciated, and sometimes not so much. The phrase “tough room” was built for a room of people waiting to find out if their beloved mother is going to make it through the night, I’d think.)

But she did pull through, only she couldn’t talk or move much, and she moved to Pennsylvania to live with her son, and this past week she had an aortic aneurism and it was fairly quick, I think, only two years isn’t all that quick, not really, not if you think about not being able to talk or take care of yourself when you’ve spent your whole life taking care of yourself and everyone around you.

So Dad wasn’t coming home for the services, but then he surprised me and told me he was, and I might have cried a little because I am most sincerely petrified at these things and it makes me feel more comfortable if he’s there because he knows all those people and he makes sure to introduce me to people and make me feel part of things and he knows I get overwhelmed and sometimes need to go out for some air or maybe just to walk around or something because people make me claustrophobic and death makes it worse.

“You were going to go anyway, though,” he said.

“Of course I was,” I said. “That’s my family, too. Not just yours. I love them. Even if it gives you panic attacks, you do things you hate for the people you love. I know that.”

“Well, huh. You sure are my girl. Huh,” said Dad. Then he got a little teary but if you ask him he’ll say it was the things blooming in Florida that were triggering his allergies and then he said he had to go.

So tomorrow I am leaving work early and driving about an hour to go to the wake and won’t be home until late. Dad says people don’t wear black anymore because we are not in olden times. “Probably I shouldn’t wear clown-colors, though,” I said. “No, probably that’d be inadvisable,” Dad agreed. We have also discussed whether or not I need to go to the funeral and it has been decided no because I would have to miss almost a whole day of work and since I’m going on vacation next week and missing a lot of work that would ALSO be inadvisable and plus Dad says if you go to the wake people don’t expect you to go to both, it’s just nice that I’m going to the wake at all. I feel like this means people think I’m some sort of terrible caveman with the worst manners who never attends family gatherings and the sight of an Amy in the wild is a rare one, indeed, but he said that’s not what he meant at all.

She’s in a better place. She’s with God now. God called another one of his angels home. She’s in heaven with her sister and her husband. She’s watching over us all now.

Don’t. Please, don’t.

I’m sorry for your loss.


How about, just, I’ll miss her?

Yes. That.

I’ll miss her.

Because I will. Because it’s true.

And I can still hear her laughing in my head. She sounds just like my grandmother. I close my eyes and I can’t tell the two of them apart.

(Photos stolen from my beautiful cousin J.’s Facebook page. Thanks, J. The woman you’ve become amazes me. I love you fiercely and would like to beat anyone who hurts you with a two-by-four studded with railroad spikes. Love you to pieces.)

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