Letters to Holly

Monday, October 27

Another Funeral

I had mentioned my friend Jared before; he was one half of the couple that anchored my hometown comic gang. He was diagnosed with a bad intestinal cancer and initially told to put his affairs in order. A second opinion suggested targeted treatment could help. He took chemo and scheduled a surgery next month to remove the cancer. I last saw him at DragonCon, the first time I had seen him since he got sick. He hadn't lost a significant mount of weight, and he was in his element. He looked good.

I got the call Saturday morning that he died of an embolism. This was five months to the day that Dad died. When Mrs. Crowe called to tell me Dad was ailing, I had just come in from a race. It was virtually at the exact same time of day. Of course, Saturday I had the 5k. I don't appreciate the similarities. Jared leaves behind a wife and daughter. He was seven months older than me. He and his wife helped me recover from my surprise separation and divorce. They were as good of friends as I could ask for.

I knew Jared from high school. We met in an art class. We didn't keep in tough until after college. He began working at my hometown comic store, and we struck up again immediately. He went on to teach art in elementary and middle schools. He had a gabillion toys and comics, and he could talk intelligently about what writers and creators were doing on our favorite titles. We dressed up each Halloween and visited the same comic shop for cake and drinks and conversation.

Quiet geeks like us typically stay alone. He found a fantastic wife in Chris; they met in college. She found herself orbited by a gang of nerds and took it all in stride. She joined in, complete with costumes at Halloween. She was very good to him, and he was happy.

I told John, the caller and another part of the gang, to keep me in the loop. I stayed in town during the weekend and hadn't heard anything else. An online check of their local newspaper revealed the funeral plans. I drive down Tuesday and drive back after the service for the first official rehearsal. I will be able to stay a little after the service to talk to his other friends, but I need to get back home. I have to keep moving.

We knew he was sick, but we saw him maintain. He died just like My Dad and just like his own father. I don't think we realized how relieved we all were to see him scrape past the initial diagnosis. It's a shock that shouldn't be a shock. I'm rattled quite a bit, and I'm very tempted to burn my suit after Tuesday. The idea of wearing it again -- for another funeral, for Jared's funeral -- just crushes me.

+ + +

I'll be quick with the rest.

We helped form a spontaneous teacher party Firday night and hosted a pumpkin-carving party the next night. We had kids and adults play Guitar Hero and drink beer and make jack o'lanterns. It went on to the wee hours. Because Saturday was such a heavy day, I drank a lot, and it almost helped.

That party started before I got back from the race. It was good weather for it and a good turnout. About 200+ people, with maybe a fourth in costume. I started the race in the middle of the pack and finished strong after the big hills disheartened a number of others. I ran much faster than I had in training, thanks to my keeping pace with people I thought would fade. They didn't, and I grew to hate the Tigger running in front of me for making me run so hard. She eventually gave up when we hit the big hill. But that was two miles later than I assumed. I finished in 28 minutes, almost 13 minutes after the overall winner. I was exhausted and content with the time.

Sarah Palin spoke in Asheville last night, and we watched the live broadcast. She was 2 hours late and held off the start of her speech to let a country singer bust out her four-year-old song about redneck women. The crowd was happy with the speech; it gave a number of vague shots at Obama and also vaguly praised Mccain, and she wore jeans to make us forget about the thousands spent at New York clothing stores. She was there, and there's not much there there.

Picture of the Day
Jared as Captain Marvel. That costume was a labor of love, and I remain jealous of it.

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