Day of the Dead

A year ago today, I was frantically figuring out how to get to Seattle with my wife. We had just finished watching the DVDs of Dead Like Me, which finished with a Halloween episode about how the line between the dead and the living is starkly fluid during the season. The next day, The Day of the Dead, had a similar theme for a holiday. And before the Day was even complete, my father-in-law had crossed over that line, and we were walking the nearby trail in the dark, trying to make sense of the situation.

So, this transition marked the beginning of an insanely change-driven year for me. I have taken a role in attempting to sustain the family business, and I've had to re-orient my dissertation topic. We have a new nephew and a friend had a close call.

But in those first few days, I had no clue. And I don't still. But, while we were trying to figure out what to do about a hastily organized memorial, and how to handle the business, I felt needed, and valuable. I had stepped up, and done well in handling the stress. Except that I failed in one way.

At the memorial, I just couldn't quite stand up and talk about what Nick had meant to me. I was anguished, and I didn't know how to say what I wanted to say without hurting others who were present.

Nick had been like a father to me, maybe more because I had been like a son to him. Before I moved to Virginia, he played Magic: The Gathering with me. We would go see movies that his wife and daughters wouldn't be caught dead near. I had a huge appreciation for how he had managed to build his life: the independence of his own business, built on his own expertise; the time and work that he had put into his relationships with his daughters; a constant quest to expand his knowledge about the history and science of our existence. He was a storyteller, and a deal-maker, and I felt like I could do him no justice while standing there and trying to hold it together.

Now I've had a year. In trying to keep his business operational so that his accomplishments might not be lost, we've found little mistakes that he's made. It has been a hard year, with a lot of self-learning. And now we're approaching the end of the Day again. We have a little altar, with some of his favorite books. Soon the line between the living and the dead will lose its brief permeability.