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July 20th, 2019

More for Dana

It wasn't suicide.

When losing someone as suddenly as we lost Dana, I worry that will be the reason we lost that someone. Other times, it has been. At the end of February, my friend Tracy killed herself. I've lost people to suicide before. That type of death has its own baggage, its own difficulties, as you process it.

Last night I learned, from friends of mine who were friends with Dana, what happened. Aneurysm. She had one while at work. Part of her body malfunctioned, went wrong, and then someone who'd been with us was no longer there.

There's a tiny, tiny mercy in all this: for Dana, it was quick. For my friend Tracy, it wasn't: she'd struggled for years with suicidal ideation, the over-and-over thought This world is too difficult for me to be in until she thought Okay; I'm out.

It is weird — one of the many weirdnesses of grief — that I'm trying to find comfort in knowing that Dana didn't want and didn't plan to die. She wanted to live as well as she could. I'd seen her have (very understandable) issues with her living situation; she worked to improve it. But what happened, happened, and processing that doesn't change that. It's the living with what happened that I and Dana's other friends are trying, having, to do. As I'm working to live with the loss of Tracy. I'm still processing her not being here any more, either.

I'll digress for a bit. The very funny novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which Douglas Adams wrote based on the radio series he'd conceived and written, has the subtext of dealing with grief. The novel has a scene not in the radio show, where Arthur tries to wrap his mind around the whole damn planet Earth being destroyed. Thinking that New York City is gone doesn't hit him; realizing that McDonald's burgers are gone does. Why is it that detail that gets him? I don't know; it just is. What detail's going to remind me of Dana or Tracy tomorrow, or next month, or two years from now, and hit me again with knowing we lost these two unique people? I don't know.

It's worth repeating: It is part of the unfairness of so much bad news that it so often blindsides us. Much of it forces us to deal with it RIGHT NOW, damn whatever your plans had been or others' plans had been or Dana's plans had been or Tracy's maybe-I-shouldn't-die plans had been. The good news, meanwhile, is often something you have to work at. You need to nourish it, maybe build it, definitely protect it. Good news can be background noise, not really calling attention to itself as it just Does What It Does. Sometimes it takes a genuine effort to see what's good.

That'll be part of my effort. I need to live as well as I can. I need to function as well as I can. So do my friends, my family, my acquaintances, any people I help, and the others of the world.

Later today — after I've done laundry and eaten — I'll be at two events, both of which will have people who knew Dana. One is an already-planned-before-this comic shop event; one's a memorial for Dana. We will see how we are.

We'll see.