It’s been an odd and disquieting month.
First, my 96-year old aunt died in Tucson. She was the last of her generation and the matriarch of our clan.
Decades ago, when she and my mother realized that we had too few plots in the family graveyard for all the folks who were dying before their time, they had agreed to be buried in the same plot, stacked one on top of the other like an underground condominium.
“But I get to be on top,” Tita insisted.
It was unlikely. She was the elder sister and long assumed to be the one to die first. But she outlived my mother by more than two years.
The services were there at the family plot, and the gravediggers uncovered my mother’s casket in preparation for this new arrival. But there was no new casket in sight. Instead, they lowered a ladder and scaled down into the grave to place an urn on my mother’s resting place.
“You had her cremated?” I asked.
“She doesn’t weigh much. She won’t be so much of a burden to your mother this way,” my cousin Mary replied.
They threw bright green feathers into the grave from her beloved 50-year old Amazon parrot, Nacho, who had expired only weeks before she did.
I provided the liquor for the wake. It’s one of those things that my family has come to count on me for. I’m good at it.
On an even sadder note, the 16-year old girl across the street killed herself last Thursday. There had been moving vans at the house most of the day. She hung herself just after they left.
The block was ablaze with interested bystanders. Most of us watched from our windows – texting questions to each other as the fire truck was joined by an ambulance, six police cars and a Fire Chief’s truck. One person knew the family’s last name. One teenager said she had skateboarded with the victim.
Ours is a neighborhood where garage doors are opened remotely as the cars pull up. The residents disappear up interior staircases and live their lives behind grand curtains and shutters. There are no front or side yards. The houses bunch together, shoulder to shoulder, like a rugby scrum protecting their little piece of sidewalk.
There’s not much chance of interaction unless you seek it out. But this family – which by all accounts had lived there for over a year – was unknown to most of us.
We watched, safe behind our own glass, as the weakest of our herd was culled out and taken away.
Her name was Isabella, but she called herself Quinn. She was a 10th grader.
The loss to her family and friends is beyond calculation. But the rest of us will probably never know any more about Quinn than this, her last moments of life. And for us, that’s the saddest part of all.
As Pari noted yesterday, we’re going through some changes here at Murderati. Some of us will go on as usual. Some will seek other avenues to refresh between days writing. Like JT, I’m one of those going on hiatus, but for entirely different reasons.
My days are not too busy for Murderati. My life is not so full of commitments and promises that it’s stressing me out.
On the contrary, I need some time away to find that life again.
I’ll be traveling a lot over the next three months – often to places inaccessible to my handy iPad and iPhone – and it seems like a good time to regroup.
In my place, we’ll have Wild Card Tuesdays. Anything goes. You may see book reviews here, round table discussions, guest bloggers, bad jokes, crock pot recipes for tiger, idle threats.
I’m guest blogger #1 today.
Thank you all for such generous and loving support these last Murderati years. And to my fellow ‘Rati, thank you for keeping a place near the fire for me. I’ll see you all in the Spring.
My dear Louise
You are the best of us. Through this blog you've stood in your yard with us and chatted regularly. We always look forward to it. You never fail to raise a smile, or a tear. But most of all, you make us think.
We'll miss you desperately.
It sounds like people will not miss poor Quinn because they never had a chance to know her.
My words to JT on Friday work just as well today:
Come home safe.
Louise, I wish you the best refreshment period ever. I love your writing and look forward to more books and blogs from you. Travel sounds wonderful. Discover. Rediscover. xoxo
A life well lived and loved and a life that won't know how much it could have been. The juxtaposition is heartbreaking.
Safe journeys, Louise — live well and have fun. And please don't forget to come back!
Travel safe, travel well, and have fun.
Happy travels, Louise. Thanks for saying goodbye before you take off.
I can't wait to hear the stories you'll have for us when you come back.
Travel safe, Louise – I love the idea of you out there in the world, living and soaking up stories. I know we'll hear and read them one day and they'll be priceless.
Bless you, Louise, and keep you healthy and safe. I hope each stop on your way yields stories worthy of your telling.
We await your return with arms wide open and hopeful, ready hearts.
Louise – I will miss reading you here every other Tuesday. But I do hope to see you soon! Let's get together before you head out on the road.
I fell in love with your blogs and how you give your heart to each of them! I thought you were going to make me cry today. Instead, you made me smile because YOU'RE GONNA BE BACK!!!! Yay!!! I will miss you, but will eagerly await for your return!!!
About Quinn, I hope she's found the peace she was looking for. In many ways, I identify with her, and the force the drove her to do what she did. So, I say I prayer for her soul, and for her family to find comfort. And, I'm sure like everyone else, I wonder what makes a 16 year old not want to be called by her own name.
Louise…live, baby, live. Go out and do your thing. I can't wait to hear the stories you'll bring to us when you return. You will be sorely missed, you know that. Give us more to see….
You have nourished my soul with your words, your descriptions, your outlook on life and death.
I feel your leaving with joyful sadness.
I beheld a spectacular sunrise this morning as the light inched upward from the hills. Startling golden orange and yellow splashed across the sky. Reminds me, now, of you, a sun seeker, a wisdom seeker, a seeker of beauty and truth and a hefty drink.
Your aunt was remarkably beautiful. I think you are a younger version of her.
Fair travels, my friend.
Hugs to you. Door is always open in New Orleans and of course here where we will wait patiently for your return. Send missives from afar — your observations are always keen and pull on my heart.
Neighborhoods are funny. I've lived in my sf neighborhood for 22 years and last night, Halloween, we were all out on our stoops saying silly things across the banisters, waiving wine glasses, lit by pumpkins lights and funny, with a soundtrack of spooky sounds from tinny cheap boxes, kids of all colors and sizes stumbling up my long stairway, and those at the end always get more candy because we're afraid to be left with it. And the best kid of all came as a vacuum cleaner salesman (a young Willy Looman? He was about 6) and the neigbhbors gathered around and we made him go through his spiel about 3 times (once he did it in a British accent) and then he sat down with us and ate a bunch of candy.
Tribes are important. Family tribes — like your auntie who passed was the head of, friends tribes, like Murderati, neighbors. Louise, you're on a walk about to find your tribe I think, the place you need to be, as so much around you as changed. Wishing you great adventures and much love.
As a farewell, you've told us of a death at the end of a life well-lived, a death seemingly before much of a life could even begin (but, sadly, not the pain of life), and the onset of a journey. No matter where you go, the writer within you is there. It's evident in everything you say. It may feel dormant, but I assure it is not lost.
I can't quite get my head around not having you before me in the queue here. I always felt inspired and challenged in a uniquely personal way, and have been so very grateful for that.
I'll miss you. Don't be a stranger (unless, of course, you must).
Thanks for your eloquent and thoughtful post. All the best
I'm already looking forward to seeing you back here in the spring. I hope you have many a wondrous bench conversation in the coming months!
Louise, you leave us a gift as you depart: another reason to watch for the first crocus.
Oh, Louise, that poor girl. I hope both she and your aunt are in a lighter place, now.
And I wish the same for you, on this plane. I'm excited for your travels and cant wait to hear about them. You have all my love.
Thanks, Louise for being our first 'guest blogger'…although of course it's not very accurate to be called a guest in your own home. And I know that's how everyone feels about you and Murderati. I hope you have some great travels and come back better and stronger.
And maybe some 'guest' posts along the way?
Louise, you have enriched my life with your words. Over and over and over again.
Safe and lovely travels (OR wild and reckless – may you choose which fits the moment and enjoy the hell out of all of them)
I can't wait to read the stories you'll have to share when you return.
In the meantime, my heart breaks for the torture, sadness and lonliness endured by the child who felt so desolate that she ended her life much too soon, and it breaks also for those she left behind who will live the rest of their lives wondering "why?"
Louise, if you have to go away in order to find your way back, I'm all for it. Go refill the well. I'm looking forward to hearing stories about what you discover.
Just don't make us hunt you down next spring. Because you know we will. You will be sorely missed. I'm tempted to wish you safe travels, but I'm not sure that's wise. Instead, I wish you a safe return.
Hope your travels are happy and safe, Louise.
See you in the spring….
You'll be missed. I hope you have the journey that gives you what you need, and that you will have moving stories to tell us when you return. Or just say hello.
Ears for listening, shoulders for crying, arms for holding, wine and chocolate for bringing smiles and laughter. Always here for you, whenever you need or want them. You've always got a place at our table, my friend.
Travel safe, take lots of notes and pictures, and check in once in a while, just to let us know you're okay. We love you!
Louise, may you always walk in sunlight and shelter from the storms.
Long may you run…..and record bench conversations!
Another good post here you shared with us. Thanks a lot dear for it. Hope to see more posts from you.
You know where we are Louise.