This fleeting life spent in sickness and worry --The pure vision passes before my eyes just for a moment.When cocks crow and bells sound, flocks of birds scatter --Soon the drum beats at the prow and people call to one another.
As you might expect, there are times when reading someone else's journal entries is disquieting and revealing. I discovered aspects of my brother's relationship with our father that I hadn't appreciated. One of his entries said: "Asked about my accident (first time)." This was more than a year after my brother had been hit by a car and badly hurt. My heart cracked: I had not realized how inattentive my father had been.
Going back through the calendar now, more than 18 months after my father died, the entries chart a relentless physical decline -- profound fatigue, sore hips and knees, aching wrists, swollen legs, inflamed teeth, increasing forgetfulness, the savage indignities of old age. One day, he took a bath but couldn't get out of the tub. Luckily, the housekeeper arrived; she couldn't get him out either, so she recruited the postman to help. My father thought this was hilarious: I admired his ability to laugh.
For through it all, there's such courage. Yes, he's just had a pacemaker installed and he's feeling rotten, but he's making strawberry jam. One day, "He sounded very low -- lonely, old, and scared." But another, he's reading a history of some sinister French aristocrats and planning to install a wood stove in the fireplace. A beloved friend is coming to stay. He's just learned a new poem.
It is these stories that remind me of the possibilities in today's communication tools. It's not that the Internet is superior or inferior or equal to or a replacement for face-to-face interaction, but all these services are there, and we sometimes can't be. Humans find ways to push meaning through the pipes.