Monday, November 22, 2010

He's Gone

Today's post was supposed to be about solving the country's deficit woes.  I'll get to that tomorrow.  I promise.  But right now I'm having trouble focusing on military spending and foreign aid and taxes because every time I get going I am confronted by a fact that I've been shoveling to the back of my brain's mulch pile.

Elliot died last Thursday night.

He gets to use his real name, because I never got around to telling you about him in a Burrow blogonym.  Two L's, one T..... it's something I could never remember, even though I tried really hard to do so because the fact that no one could remember really annoyed his wife.  Then again, lots of thing really annoy his wife, and, knowing that, I was able to laugh at myself each and every time I had to go to my address book and check on the spelling for a holiday card or an invitation.  I knew she'd appreciate the effort.  I never knew if Elliot cared or not.

There have been lots of those notes and letters over the 27 years he was in my life.  A playgroup dad, he was the recipient of holiday brownies and several years of latkes at our Chicago Chanukah Celebrations.  One year his wife loaned me a cook she knew; the man brought his own knives and sliced and diced and cuisinarted up some of the best potato pancakes we'd ever eaten.  But it wasn't about the taste - she and Elliot wanted to be sure that I could enjoy my own party from someplace other than hovering over a stove covered with frying spuds.  They were like that - solving a problem I didn't even know I had.

Elliot was one of the smart ones, one of the guys who could understand and create a complex financial transaction while retaining the ability to explain it to a social worker who has issues with fractions.  There was a genuine understanding that I was smart in a number of ways, just not in that way.  He was sure I could get it if he tried again to explain it.  We were in the situation together.  He knew I could do it.  And while it was surprising to be on the receiving end of that kind of instruction from someone other than TBG, it was quite wonderful, too.  I don't remember the topic nor do I remember exactly what was on my plate in the back corner of the Italian restaurant on Halsted Street, but I do remember that we were both smiling by dessert.  

They came to visit us when we first moved to Marin.  The Cuters were young and I was car-pooling hither and yon and Elliot took to wandering up and down our cul-de-sac.  He ended each of his perambulations with an expression of peaceful contentment on his face as these words tumbled out of his mouth: "I could live here."  I've been holding onto that memory a lot in these last few days.  

We were young and happy then.  The world was our oyster and we had good friends with whom we could share the joy.  And now the world is feeling more like an abalone shell - iridescent and shiny and beautiful on one side but gnarly and harsh and impenetrable on the other.  I've been taking the time to remember the shiny moments and trying to avoid catching my heart on the bumps.  

In Jewish tradition, visitors to a house of mourning bring sweet treats, as a reminder of the happy times you shared and as a beacon of hope that joy will, once again, inhabit your home.  

Brownies are on their way.....

Rest in peace, my friend.

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