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Wednesday, March 03, 2004


My friend Melodie will likely be dead by the end of the week. In her early forties, she's been fighting what began as uterine cancer for more than two years. Now the orcs are swarming across her liver. I call her my friend, but that word goes spider-webby, social nuances suddenly become complicated, in the penumbra of death. Melodie lived across from my ex many years ago--a sort of post-college Friends situation. When we were together, before we had kids, we saw her all the time. We fixed her up with a friend we played softball with, Greg, and they eventually got married. As years passed, we had kids, the great divider; they didn't; and we saw them less frequently. We had traded the sorts of things we used to do with them—clubs, shows, openings, readings—for a mess of potty. Long after I moved out, I heard she had cancer. I hadn't seen her in more than a year. I never actually had much of a direct relationship with her. It was always mediated either through my ex or through Greg. I'm certainly not close enough to her to go see her now. Especially since Greg is doing the utterly understandable deathbed-gatekeeper role—inviting the deserving friends in to say goodbye, closing out the ones who weren't sufficiently steadfast. I talked to Joanne, who, deserving, saw Melodie today. They looked at old pictures together. At one point Melodie looked up from them. "It was really good, wasn't it?" she said, clear-eyed. I can't stop thinking about it. I thought about writing a poem. But I don't know the poetic vernacular for death these days. Or the cycles of friendship. Nothing really seems adequate.
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