As we age, and as we realize there are more days behind us than ahead of us, it becomes necessary to pay more attention to the wild terms of living a dangerous life.  The change of season from Winter to Spring is a harbinger of renewal — and you cannot have new beginnings without the onslaught of death.  Watch for the harbinger.  Weigh the harbinger.  Fight the harbinger.


I mention this warning against the harbinger because, in the last couple of weeks since the change of seasons, many of our most intimate friends are reporting losses and pain and despair and, as one begins to wonder why, we are led back to the covenant of living and of surviving against our eventual expiration.

We recently lost a beloved family member and here’s the short list of our friends in mourning:

  • Mother with cancer
  • Uncle in the ER
  • Pet dying
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Church friend death

Sometimes we feel as if we should not answer the phone or open an email because it will only include sad, bitter, news.

The transitions we make throughout the cycles of life are usually transparent and slick — but when that process becomes sticky and sloppy and ultimately hopeless — one begins to think there is a pattern in life the living revoke from the dead, and the lesson of that final harbinger is that we must cling to each other while we can because we might not make it through the next Spring renewal.

18 Comments

  1. Just to clarify – he was 22 years old this year – and had a lot of work from my late grandmother on my mother’s side – and so there was a lot of history.

  2. I know that a lot of people will think I am kidding – I even put up signs in my building in case I dropped him there – and they were taken down after not too long. I put up ads on craig’s list in case people found him outside.
    Here is a recent photo :
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chayaelisheva/3322796325/
    He is the smallest bear in the photograph.
    Basically, I bought Shrimpy in 1987 at the age of 10. Not too much later, the little tongue that he had fell off – probably not very well sewn on. My mother’s mother sewed a smile where the tongue had been.
    Over the years I was more fond of the year older Goobie Bear but I still was fond of Shrimpy. In the last few years, Shrimpy has meant more to me as my family has broken apart in so many ways and he was a good reminder of my youth: live grandmothers, mother and father together, brother in the same state.
    The worst part of it is that it could have been very easily prevented had I but been a little bit more responsible. Instead, I managed to clumsily lose him and I believe I will not ever see him again. Elizabeth thinks he’s in my friend’s apartment but I don’t see how that is possible.

  3. I feel for you, Gordon, I really do. Your bears are an active part of your life and they’re tied to specific experiences.
    Were you careless with Shrimpy? Or was this just an accident? What makes Elizabeth think he’s in your friend’s apartment?

  4. These are the events as I remember them.
    We were set to go to Cafe Roma. I put Vampire Bear and Goobie Bear in my messenger bag. I cannot remember if I put Shrimpy in my bag or not. This is the part where I got careless. Not double checking before I left to make sure everyone was there.
    We got to Cafe Roma and when I went to take the bears out, only the two bigger bears were there. Elizabeth said she didn’t even remember me putting Shrimpy in the bag and that he was probably just sitting where I left him.
    We went to my friend’s apartment and he wasn’t there. I said that I must have dropped him on the way to the pizza place, which is on 102nd and Amsterdam. The route from my friend’s apartment to the pizza place is a few feet over to amsterdam, and then five blocks. I walked up and down the street and checked every single garbage can and he wasn’t there. Mind you, I can’t tell you how many times I have passed by the same piece of rubbish 3 times in one day and nobody bothered to pick him up.
    The reason that Elizabeth thinks that he’s in my friend’s apartment is because we recreated what happened and to her, there was just no way that he would have fallen out of the bag without the bag being disturbed in a noticable way by the time we got there. She also says she has a gut feeling that he’s in the apartment. The only problem is that I feel that I have searched everywhere and I haven’t yet found him.
    I call it being careless. It may be that it was an accident – but it was a terrible accident that I should have prevented.

  5. That’s an amazing story, Gordon! Based on what you shared, I too, can’t imagine he fell in the street. It doesn’t make sense that he would just fall out of your bag while the other two were fine.
    When you arrived at Cafe Roma and discovered your loss — did you stay or did you leave and freak?
    If you’d had all three bears, what would they have been doing out of your bag at Cafe Roma?

  6. Thank you, David. Elizabeth also says that she always sees when anything falls from me. Always.
    We stayed because we thought he was in the apartment.
    Believe it or not, when they come with us to restaurants, they more or less sit on the table. Hanging out.