Ashtray Chat

October 15

Karen_Main Pic

I’m not a psychologist, but I have to wonder: is it healthy or harmful to honor/fetishize certain dates? There are so many dates that ring alarm bells in my head—birthdays, deathdays, wardays. September 1st, September 11th. August 6th, August 9th. The birthdates of my children, the death dates of loved ones.

I feel if I forget, I dishonor the dead.

But I objectively wonder if I mourn “too much” on a certain date, am I merely wallowing in a pathetic pool of hyper-grief?

“I don’t know” is the most honest answer I can offer. But I do know that certain dates on the calendar leap at me like a wolf at my throat. Which is logically ridiculous. The dead don’t know, the dead do not care about the date on the calendar.

However, since we mark our time on this mudball by the tick of an unreal clock, and as my brain still ticks and roars while the brains of the dead do not, I have no choice. I must honor the dead.

My sister Karen died five years ago today. This is the eulogy I wrote for her.

Some families have a wild child. Not a black sheep, not a nomad, but a wild child. Karen was a wild child. Karen was wild in ways none of us will ever forget. Karen embraced the world with such a vibrancy that made some of us step back and say, “Whoa. Easy, girl!” But she wouldn’t take it easy.

Karen was not an easy woman.

Karen knew that the world was not easy. She learned that lesson when she was young, and it was reinforced when she was older. Karen brought two beautiful girls into the world, Samantha and Hayley, and she shared a life with one of the toughest guys I ever met, Steve Balsavage. Once, when I was young and terrified by a bully who had at one time been my friend, I was crying in my bed, and Karen came in and tried to comfort me. She’d been out with her friends, and she reeked of smoke and incense and other exotic scents, but she rubbed my back and said, “He’s just an asshole. Punch him.”

The next day, I punched him.

Thank you, Karen.

Karen loved her family. She loved her daughters, her husband, and her sisters, Joyce and Jackie. She loved her brother, Mark, and her mother, Pauline. And Karen loved life. To the max. In many ways it was all or nothing with Karen. Halloween? Forget it. Thanksgiving? Get out of town. Karen pushed everything to the point of extravagance. Her generosity sometimes got her into trouble, but anyone who ever experienced her generosity never forgot it.

Karen was a Wild Child.

When she played a song, she played it loud.

When one went to her house, Karen made damn sure her guest had a good time. When someone asked for a candle to be lit, Karen lit ten. Karen loved jokes, the last vestige of the spoken art, and her jokes were always good.

We will always remember Karen: her quick smile, her easy laugh. She’s walking away from us now, she’s walking down a road covered with leaves. Goodbye, Karen. I will always love you, and I will see you again.


2 replies on “October 15”

You’ve been sensitive to dates as long as I’ve known you and I’m sure far longer. I think there are a lot of ways to honor the dead and dates work best for you. A beautiful eulogy. I can’t imagine losing a sister but I suppose you have to just keep her in your heart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s