Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sorry I haven’t been in touch lately with most of you. I went on a trip with Liz to London for five days, and then spent another five in Budapest visiting Adam. I left in Wales a sick Grandfather. When I returned, I was meet with a dying one. The Monday after, he passed away. He had been a coal miner and a smoker, and the cancer that has plagued him for four years… took him. So, it was not an unanticipated death, but the last two weeks of decline certainly surprised me. Thank Zeus for morphine, he did go peacefully, as they say. The morning of his death circles round and round in my brain- different memories, quotes, etc. I haven’t had much experience with death on close proximity, and the whole process, the rituals people share are so foreign to me, especially for a proper funeral and more specifically, the little phrases that for some reason need to be said to, I don’t know, help convince people of what happened or that the loss was somehow positive, silver linings. I agree that it is important to remember happy times, but to constantly repeat “think of all the happy times” or “his suffering is over now” etc... This seems so empty to me. For some reason, these words need to be repeated to help people cope with death and loss, but when I hear them, over and over, like on the morning of his death, I feel increasingly cynical about the entire situation, the rituals, and further away from the incident, the loss at hand. Bellow are some memories of that morning, written down as a way to help me, cope, Is suppose, with the feelings of emptiness parts of it left me. I’m sure my opinions of these memories will change and shift over time, on personal reflection and with others, but here it is for now.


-Read these pamplets. “coping with bereavement”

-A letter came today for Watkin. Its for a ‘Behind the eyes’ diabetic test- February 12th. I have to call and tell him he can’t come.

-yellow pages… U- undertaker—no. F. Funeral director. David. Son in Father’s chair with the yellow pages

-hot drink? Yeah, a 5th cup of tea, a welsh cake

“ebb and flow and cycle of life, it is”

-“he went peacefully”

“there was a bug on the ward, but they let us in anyway. That’s when I knew.”

“He was reaching and grabbing at invisible strings, you know, like they do when they’re dying. Playing with the edges of the sheets.”

-“Sit here, read these pamphlets with Jo while we go for the papers. Before Hazel comes.”

“When my mother gets off the phone, tell her to call your mother, it’s 6 o’clock there now.

-don’t forget Susan.

-church-chapel-Welsh-English-barial-cremate-“its all got to be…resolved, doesn’t it?”

oh, dear, dear. Dew, dew.

-poor dab.

better ring your mother. Your orders, do your duty, bach.

“I always said, we won’t go from Ystradgynlais, ever. We’ll be here for ever.”

Hazel, Ann, David in the kitchen, standing, talking warped on the reflecting kettle. But it’s the electronic that’s boiling the water for my 7th cup (in 3 hours)

The cat came in- wide-eyed, wondering. “That cat has never stepped a paw over that doorway, never.”

Last night I was lying on the floor on my back, with my knees tucked to my chest. I breathed in deep, more aware than ever of my lungs as distinct organs in my body. A full breath in, held, released. Oxygen in my lungs, my blood, easy. And you know that’s all it comes down to. That’s it.


Ah, Cymru. My home away from home. When I saw this rainbow and started freaking out, frantically taking pictures like it was a UFO or something, my grandmother shrugged it off. Apparently, with Wales as wet as it is, rainbows are fairly common place. I still think they’re freak-out worthy. When I see a rainbow I think of first- me, because Elizabeth means oath of god (and that’s what a rainbow supposedly is) then- the Noah’s in my life (you know who you are. Here’s a pixeled rainbow shout-out to my noahs’!) third- many years ago, in the days when it was just me, my little cousin Jessie, and wonderful summers full of fort building in aunt Kathy’s garden, bike rides, swimming, ice cream, stories and popping bubbles in the blistering black top on the corner of—what was it, 3rd and rose st? One day we walked along the shore (holding our pants up out of the water) into town after a storm, and there was a rainbow. We spent what I remember as hours talking about what heaven would be like, for us—all the most wonderful and beautiful things that our 9 and 5 year old minds could come up with—as the sky turned gold and pink with bulging candyland clouds and the sun slowly lowered.

And forth (if I haven’t yet been distracted from my daydreaming)- lepricons.

Here it is folks. This beach is the thing that pulled me out of a short bout of situational depression. I was not feeling well after leaving Athens and all, reflecting on the worthwhile-ness of being there, then here, and what is to come, when I took a trip to visit my Aunt Hazel and Cousin Vicky in west Wales, fifteen minutes from the ocean where we took their dogs to about everyday-rain, wind, or shine. I was struck by its enormity, strength, beauty. The feeling was about the same as the one I had on the ferryboat going to Santorini-- where everything and nothing mattered all at once. The ocean is SO different from the lakes I’m used to. Hard to explain. I made a vow to go to the beach in the winter more often. Also, it was on this trip that my affection for k9’s was born.

Hey! Look at Liz, sporting a lovely pair of Wellingtons in a castle. Liz’s visit to Wales was great. We did Swansea, Hay (a town almost completely made up of book stores) had a makeshift tea and cream, saw a rugby game and went out to a local pub for some proper tubthumping.

FISH!! Well, sort of. You may not typically think of the London Aquarium as a tourist hotspot when planning your London holiday, but it’s a really great one and if you looooove fish, like me, then I would certainly

recommend it, especially if you are looking for something less-touristy to do there. Along with the aquarium, Liz and I had a great Ethiopian dinner, went to the top of saint pauls (which leads to outside at the very top, much to our surprise- we thought we were going to the inside of the top, oh well, it’s a great view of the city) along with an evensong service there, a tour of the royal opera house backstage-another thing I HIGHLY recommend, and never would have thought of doing (thanks liz!) a walk down Portabella road aka my future street of residence, some off-the-beaten-track art galleries, down five story high tube slides at the Tate modern (if you don’t know what this is, do look it up!) basement jazz clubs, found some great little coffee joints (just our cup of tea…or, coffee, I guess(?)),

Saw Wicked the musical which was fabulous (this coming from a person who really could care less about any musical save Cats) and other things, which escape me as Liz did most of the picture taking and I don’t have them to jog my memory. We met up with some friends while we were there- Rachel, Liz’s friend of a friend who let us use her floor one night, Toni, Liz’s friend who graduated from K last year (Psych/art), cousin’s Tam and Laura, who gave us a tour of some of Shepherd’s Bush’s hot spots J and Katie, who I got to spend my last day in London chillin’ with.

On to Budapest. I have concluded that my time in Budapest was not five days, but a whole year. The sun sets around 3:30 there this time of year, and because we stayed up until about 5am every night, I saw the city mainly in the dark. Didn’t mean to turn nocturnal, just ended up talking, and suddenly it was 5am. Meeting a good friend I haven’t see in 5 months in central Europe, at night for five days, sort of threw me for a loop. But it was an amazing time full of crazy occurrences. Take Peter, for instance.

This man came up to us in the Jewish quarter and started rattling off trivia about the architecture and history of the area, and asked if he could show us around a bit. Adam probably hated me for it, but I said “sure!” and he gave us a two hour tour, knowing something about what seemed like every building. He took us into a small Synagogue,

we met the kitchen staff. In the end of our tour he lead us to a dark alley way and stole all our money and our shoes—just kidding—he lead us to a Hungarian restaurant and left us to a great inexpensive meal. It was awesome. We found the image of Bill Murry in the big Cathedral there. Adam got a hair cut (of course) at a French salon. Saw some good museums/galleries, Hungarian film, met two British blokes we thought we could teach a thing or two about life…who in the end told us a thing or two.

Had lots of falafel, cheese-filled croissants, espresso, near run-ins with the transport officers (“controllers”) for riding trams ticketless, and continuous eye opening conversation.

And now? Now I a planning my last month in Wales. Getting my head wrapped around the idea of completing my senior project by the end of the year, educating myself about the environmental challenges facing Wales, bonding with the fam, missing my friends, getting excited about doing SCHOOL again, real school, and thinking about what my summer might look like. Big scary weather forecast for this week in Wales: 6 inches of snow probable! AHHHHH! God save us all! will we make it? I better go check flashlight batteries, buy extra purified water and stock up on the cans.


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