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Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Chamber of Cloud and Tears

For those of you who pop by frequently (commenters and lurkers alike), you may like to know that two people featured here in the past few weeks are in mourning. We rarely wear a black band on our sleeves these days; the 21st-century mourner announces a death on his or her blog.

"Susangalique" has suffered a great loss. Her father died unexpectedly. A message left at her blog reads: "Susanna's father passed away last night. His life was a grand adventure, and like all good books, his story was a story that one never wanted to end. Please keep Susanna and her family in your prayers as they endure this difficult time."

I picked Susanna Leberman--susangalique--for the first interview in "I Interview My Visitors," and many people were charmed and entertained and moved by what she had to say.

A few days ago Clare Dudman's mother-in-law began to ebb while Clare was off doing a talk in Hull. She died not long after Clare returned home. Clare also appeared in these "pages" recently, because her novel, 98 Reasons for Being, was the first one featured in my Long Grass Books series-in-progress.

I'm always glad to see the name of either woman--the aspiring historian and vim-filled Alabamian or the Welsh novelist whose words I admire--on a calling card in my little e-palace. To each, much strength and sympathy, many aerial bouquets of snowdrops and cloud.

The blogosphere is a cunning little world, made of something and nothing and people. A distant fall in the web can touch us across the world.

Pax tecum.

I chose the lovely face above because it struck me immediately as a one seen through distances of time. Let it stand as an emblem of memory.

It is unmistakably a picture by Laura Frankstone Murphy, this time of her daughter C as a child. Thanks to Laura for the image.


I heard the old, old men say,
'Everything alters,
And one by one we drop away.'
They had hands like claws, and their knees
Were twisted like the old thorn-trees
By the waters.
'All that's beautiful drifts away
Like the waters.'

--W. B. Yeats



  1. Marly.
    Not sure what next to say. Thank you for telling us. I'm adding my tears and condolences to those you're collecting for Susanangalique and Clare. C will be honored when she learns her image is here.

  2. That image could be my child like face.

    Thak you marly. Thank you so much.

    The last thing Dad said to me was that something I wrote made him cry and I was good. He was a rocket scientist with nasa. He was a man among men, and he loved me. It all just seems like some crazy surreal something. He was never sick and went out with his work boots on. He would have approved.

  3. So sorry to hear of your loss, Susanna. My thoughts are with you.


  4. "Out with his work boots on."

    I love that idea.

    Also: "that something I wrote made him cry and I was good."

    A lucky chance for those words to be your last exchange... They'll stick with you forever, and flit through your mind many times to come.

    Peace past understanding, Susanna--and e-hugs.

  5. Marly, you are tender to post these passings, thank you. I will hold Clare and Susangalique in my thoughts. Susangalique, you are wealthy to be able to write with a sure heart that your father loved you.

  6. Oh I am so sorry to hear of this. I will pop over to Sussanas blog immediately. My condolences to Clare as well. Peace and much love.

  7. one of my professors sent out a real nice letter about my dad. He had been working on a NASA project that he had spoken to dad about.

    Do you think it alright to post about randon sadness. I gues the good thing about Live Journal is that its a journal, or if writing about things would make it worse later. I mean I dont have to revisit it but it must be healthy to get things out dont you think. It seems like its the end of the world, but he would want me to go on with things and be healthy and happy.

  8. Hello Susanna--

    Sadness like this is far from random,I think. But I think the question you ask is one each one has to answer. And I would never mention a death that I knew about if the mourner had not already shared the news in a public setting--as you did.

    It has to be up to you how much you think "aloud," and whether that is a help. Everybody's different. I was open with the week-long writing seminar I was teaching (of which blog queen was a member) when my father was dying. But I was very, very secretive about public statements and didn't mention what was happening otherwise.

    But you share more than I do all the time. Your livejournal is probably more self-revealing than my blog; it has a different purpose. So I think it fine for you, if it is a comfort to say and be heard and hear a response.

    You know, I especially like what jarvenpa said--that you are "wealthy to be able to write with a sure heart that your father loved you." It is just one of the gifts that he left behind.

  9. Susanna posted a copy of the letter about her father at; he had an interesting life.

  10. Thanks to everybody--Clare and all--who sent private notes about these passings. Once again I am pondering what a strange place the infinite internet is. People we know only through the way they twist words can come to mean something to us; that's one potent magic of language.

    * * *

    It's 24F degrees below zero, accounting for the wind chill... What on earth is a Southerner doing in such climes?

  11. What there is to say Susangalique, Marly has said it, how can one match that but to say in a very English way "here, here."

  12. May light enter the shadows of grief - in its own time and with its own reason.

    My thoughts with those who mourn,


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.