Scotch Whiskey

I’m not going to lie, folks: today has been pretty horrid.  Around five this morning MrsPal and I found out that our friend had just died.  It wasn’t unexpected, but since when does that matter?  In the poor timing characteristic of real life, MrsPal and PalKid left town today on a long-ago-planned journey, leaving me with an empty house and memories of a good friend in better times.

And tonight my family gathered to remember a cousin who died last summer.  She was a remarkable woman, and her husband and children spoke eloquently and lovingly over drinks and excellent food, as she would have loved.  It gave me a chance to reflect on my cousin’s life, and my friend’s, and to take solace in the company of my parents and sisters, who rarely have the chance to be in the same place at the same time.  I only wish my wife could have been here to share in some of that comfort.

People who want to comfort you often tell you tomorrow is another day and other such nonsense.  People like platitudes.  But they’re right, I suppose.  Tomorrow morning I’ll sit down with my parents and my sister’s family over bagels and lox, and talk about the heat, our summer plans, and how remarkable our children are.

There’s nothing I can write about grief that hasn’t already been written, but since we are all destined to experience it, we all have to find our own way to understand it.  Grief can be a lens, one that magnifies fear and uncertainty, but can also bring into sharper focus that which is important—friendships, successes, failures, loves lost and gained.  We don’t get to choose a life without grief, unless we choose a life alone, or enough like alone that there is no real difference.


  1. There’s not much original to say in response to grief either, but I’m sorry about your friend and your cousin.

  2. John S. Wilkins

     /  July 24, 2010

    Platitudes serve mainly to reassure the platitude giver; once you understand that, you don’t mind them so much. I am sorry you are having to deal with grief and loss, but as you say, such is life.

  3. Oh, damn, Pal. I was hoping for better. I’m so sorry.

  4. Pareidolius

     /  July 24, 2010

    My sympathies to you. I just lost a 32 year-old friend yesterday who really shouldn’t have died. Just a series of unfortunate events and very bad timing. He was very loved and I just can’t imagine being in his partner’s shoes. But as he would have said, we are very fragile monkeys, and we shouldn’t let life’s shortness get in the way of appreciating our enchanted existence on this little blue oasis. Hope things get better for you and yours.

    Your new place is very nice. I love what you’ve done with the commenting.

  5. No platitudes from me, Pal. I’ll just be a pain in the ass and point out that if it’s Scotch it’s “whisky” (“whiskey” refers to the same beverage made outside of Scotland).

    Hydrate well before bed.

  6. DrugMonkey

     /  July 24, 2010

    I’m lifting a toast to your friend .

  7. I share your sentiments. Sorry for your loss, and for the general misery that we all heroically seek to forge on through. It all seems to come in bunches.

  8. Sorry to hear about your friend and cousin, Pal.

  9. ginger

     /  July 25, 2010

    My condolences to you and Mrs. Pal. I concede that tomorrow’s another day, and things usually look better in the morning, but sometimes – maybe usually – loss just hurts, and I’m sorry your family has to endure that.

  10. CanadianChick

     /  July 25, 2010

    Ah, Pal…my sympathies.

    It was a year ago yesterday that a friend passed away much too young from cancer. We have a tradition of having an evening of Jewish music every year around this time, and his absence was felt, if not mentioned, last night ( he was our bass player). It was a great evening and I managed not to cry when I sang Sim Shalom – a song he transliterated for me when I was first starting with the group and didn’t yet read Hebrew

  11. Margaret

     /  July 25, 2010

    I am a hospice nurse. I think you described grief very well……very individual and “words/platitudes” don’t work very well. I wish you and your family well.

  12. My thoughts are with you and Mrs. Pal on the loss of your friend.

    The most eloquent thing I’ve ever read on life and death was written by naturalist and anthropologist Loren Eiseley. It’s called “The Immense Journey”.

    I’m glad to have found your new digs. Very nice.

  13. Samantha

     /  July 25, 2010

    My condolences. Grief is hard to deal with, sometimes, but unfortunately inevitable. A small consolation: you’ve had a life with people in it good enough to mourn for.

  14. DLC

     /  July 25, 2010

    sorry to hear it.
    going through some of that here too.

  15. BB

     /  July 26, 2010

    May all find comfort in good memories.

  16. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  17. The Gregarious Misanthrope

     /  July 27, 2010

    It seems platitudes give you something to say when there really is nothing that can be said and the silence is more awkward than the platitude.

    …awkward silence…

    Sometimes, all that can be done is to stare into those amber, peaty depths and wonder why.

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