My friend Bill died Sunday night, December 26, at 10:30

it is 10 pm Monday, December 27, 2016

I met Bill about three years ago.  He joined our writing group after being diagnosed with ALS because, he, like all of us, had something to say.  He is sitting on the left in the picture below.

Bill is on the left, circa Feb. 2013
Bill is on the left, circa Feb. 2013

Bill’s writings are on his blog called Movie Journeys/Travel & the Movies . If you like history, or will be traveling abroad, or just need a sampling of movies from around the globe, many free on YouTube, check it out.

I am going to write here what I learned through knowing Bill and seeing him every Wednesday right up until he came to group from Hospice in November.

Always have a project, it gives you something to wake up for and a goal for the day.   When he was diagnosed, his wife told him, “Write your book,” and that is what he did.  Every week he arrived with part of his story, complete with a beautiful picture to capture the essence of the wonderful place featured that evening.  Bill wrote and showed up weekly as he lost his ability to drive, his ability to walk, and as his illness took more and more of his body.

I learned all I ever want to about ALS. ALS gobbles you up…pass the pink juice to me when the oxygen containers come out, no matter what I get.  I asked Bill if this depressed him, this illness.  He said something like “No, depression just isn’t my thing.” Wow, I thought, unbelievable.

But his illness depressed me.  I told my husband in Summer 2014 that I couldn’t take it, seeing Bill like this…the deterioration.  Ram told me to buck up, and rightly so, I wasn’t sick and if Bill had the courage to come to the group, my issue with his illness could be managed. It was my call on how to manage it.  I continued to attend .

I learned about my writing: its strengths and weaknesses.  Bill  had a way of telescoping right into what I read and making a comment to uniquely sum it up.  He always left me feeling that if I wrote with my heart and stayed true to the tale, no matter how wacky, it would give people “a slice of life.” He couched his critiques in a way that was loving and kind, not condescending.

I learned the sadness of  “No.” Bill asked me in Fall 2013 if I wanted to examine some of his notes on life and do something with them.  I had to decline but I never really did…he made the offer but I didn’t say yes, or no.  He later told me he envied  my work with a professor in the last year of his life. But I have my own notes and stories and that is where these lessons trail off.

I learned through Bill that time, especially for writers, is of the essence…it waits for none of us.  We all, I am learning, will leave work unfinished. Will My Rural Broadband Journey be it, my lasting contribution to the archives of humanity, or do I want to write another tome?  Do I have a goal, or want one! for my writing, my life?

It’s been raining since I heard the news 3 hours ago.  Bill has been gone for 24 hours now.  Its a harsh rain, whipping around, inconsistent: hard, soft, pellets on a cold winter night.  “What are you doing here, he’d say right now: I’m not sure if it is a poem, an essay, a lament: what?”

I would reply, not sure, but I needed to say…it is as if this rain & wind have come to carry you away.  Adios Bill!  You will be dearly missed.

it is 10:31…the rain paused

claireaperez@gmail.com

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the empire state building at night

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In 2008, a lovely friend said to me…”Have you been to the Empire State building at night?”

“Well no,” I said. He replied, “That is a must see.”He went on to describe the magic of looking out from the perch into the city.

Beginning then, I put it on my informal bucket list and started bugging my husband: let’s go. His usual reply, sigh, “ok, but I hate the city. ” He lived there for years.

We have been to the area at least once a year since 2008, but my desire for all things NY City stays safely nestled on the other side of the bridge in Jersey. By self-admission…we are lazy travellers…we like to go but we like comfort more: the extra effort to cross the GW Bridge, park, and logistically get to places, when immersed in laughter while visiting his family, just seems like too much work for Ram and I.

Flash forward: summer 2015. The most beautiful picture of NY City pops up on my FB screen…it is at night with lights glistening, from the Empire State Building. Who took this, I wonder? It is my brother Bill’s handiwork:  I tell Ram, “oh cool, ” he says.  I sigh:  “See we should go.”  “Yep,” the flat response.

It is now Christmas and we are visiting with my brother and his family. I ask about the picture. I had envisioned the family trooping up at midnight to the top of the Empire State Building. Bill said no, he couldn’t find any recruits. He described his journey and I thought of how fun it is sometimes just to go by yourself on a little adventure to somewhere you haven’t been before, to see things in a new light.

“To really get the good view you need to go to the 86th floor,”said Bill.

As he concluded his story, my husband leaned forward in his chair and with conviction, 7 years after my first request to take that elevator ride into the city sky, said : “We have to go!”

Moby: character

he sits in stasis many

hours and wonders.

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and I shall again

sit in the garden

watching humming birds.

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Should Christmas get you down

FIND A PLACE OF HOPE & BEAUTY

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FIND A PLACE OF HOPE & BEAUTY

Deliberate

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Henry David Thoreauimage

one door

one door opens for blog

claireaperez@gmail.com

The quote my Father repeated

Sunset in upstate NY summer
Sunset in upstate NY summer

My Father would be 86 in a few days, he died years ago.  But as if in warning of the precious reality of time, as if to remind himself, he often said this quote throughout the full 44 years I knew him.

Spring passes into summer, and through summer and autumn into winter, only the more surely, by its own ultimate return, to triumph over that grave, towards which it resolutely hastened from its first hour.

Cardinal John Henry Newman