mom and blackjack

Ladies and gentlemen, meet my mother.  And her friend Martha’s kitten, Blackjack.  (Sorry the photo is so grainy.  For some reason the photos my cell phone takes don’t blow up particularly well.)

This was the scene after lunch today at Martha and Bill’s house, an incredible sprawling farm with a lake located in Smiths, Alabama, when everyone was sitting back rubbing their tummies and contemplating a nap.  For some reason, Blackjack (who is rapidly growing from roly-poly kittenhood into gangly, wall-climbing adolescence) decided that he had pressing business on top of my mother’s head.  My mom, being the inveterate animal lover that she is, never even batted an eye, even as Blackjack began to gleefully chew on her hair.

Faced with lingering feelings of sadness and meaninglessness in the wake of Elissa’s death, I decided there was nothing for it but to drive to South Georgia to see my mama (and stepdad and grandfather).  Sometimes, when life kicks you hard, the only thing to do is go see your peeps.  My mom made my favorite meal of all last night (roasted chicken and dressing, iced tea, cornbread, pinto beans, and homemade macaroni and cheese*) and a "hot chocolate pie", which is kind of like a giant brownie cut into slices and served hot with vanilla ice cream melting all down it.

(*My mother and grandmother’s recipe for mac and cheese starts with elbow macaroni and a block of sharp cheddar, and to our family, absolutely nothing else is proper mac and cheese.  To the point that I feel pangs of guilt if I buy anything in a box purporting to be macaroni and cheese.  I didn’t try the Kraft stuff until I was in college.) 

And something else awesome happened this weekend.  I met the sweetest piece of ass I’ve ever laid eyes on in my life.

frances

Florence, the donkey.

I also made the aquaintance of this remarkable gentleman, who is my New Best Friend ("Call me every five minutes!").  He has an amazing post up about Elissa and I urge you to read it, link to it, share it with people you love.  It tells her story in a way that I haven’t been able to do, yet.  Get the tissues.  You are going to need them.

When someone you love is gone, there are times when you can get by on what I call "waterbugging".  You know how waterbugs skim so fast across the surface of the water?  Doing that, except with your feelings. 

But then there are times when the sadness sneaks into your body when you aren’t paying attention.  You’re just doing your thing and you’re, like, "Huh, what’s this heavy feeling behind my sternum?"

Oh.  It’s that. 

That kept happening to me this weekend.  I’m afraid I wasn’t the most entertaining guest.  I kept having to just go and sit on the bed for a minute, or to sullenly smoke on the porch alone.

I wonder about God sometimes.  Just, you know.  It hurts this bad for me to lose one dear friend.  Imagine if I lived in Fallujah or Tyre and not just my friend was dead, but my brother, my grandfather, my uncle and two cousins, my neighbors and half the people I went to school with.  How do people handle that?  Doesn’t your head just explode at some point?  And we wonder why people hate our country?  Wouldn’t you?

Iraq Body Count has the number of dead Iraqi civilians somewhere between 41,639 and 46,307.  Now, all the Reich Wingers scream bloody murder about IBC being inaccurate, but suppose it’s a figure inflated by 200%, that would leave the number of dead Iraqi civilians at 20,820.  When you take into account that this is roughly ten times the number of people who died on 9/11, you have to wonder just who the hell Bush and Rummy are calling fascists.

We don’t see the Iraqi dead on our TV’s, much less in our yards and on our streets.  To us, those numbers are just an abstraction.  It’s something happening very far away to people who Aren’t Like Us.  But for every one of those dead people, hundreds of their friends and families are walking around toxic with shock and grief and rage.

I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Maybe we as a country will get off light in this.  Maybe all of that fury and grief will never come to our towns, our neighborhoods, our familes.  But if it did, can you honestly say that we don’t deserve it?

Hell yeah, we’ve Had Enough.  How the fuck do we make it stop?