Surreal moment in print: Bruce’s obit in the Port Townsend Leader.

Surreal times: times that have the qualities of surrealism, the irrational juxtaposition of images that seek to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind.


Wow, indeed, Lily. My inner fourteen-year-old and I experienced something like this when we read an obituary in my hometown paper, the one I’d placed for Bruce that also announced a gathering in his honor last Saturday in Port Townsend, WA.

People these days sometimes schedule memorial events weeks or even months after the loved one has died. This might be to help key mourners travel in better weather, or to hold an observance at a special time of year and/or in a location cherished by the deceased.

This was not the case when I started plan Bruce’s celebrations; I simply couldn’t think of what to do, or when, to create the right events. The “where” was easier: his hometown, my hometown (where we met and lived for several years), and the place we lived after that, aka, the place he died.

I know Bruce died, know this both emotionally and intellectually. Yet seeing the obit in last week’s Leader. . . . I placed it in there myself, but as I wrote in my journal on October 8, “My husband is not supposed to be the dead guy in the newspaper, yet he is.”

Grief takes the mind in funny directions. There’s been a mistake. It was not Bruce’s time, not by a couple of decades. Stories and plays have been written about Death, personified, taking the wrong person or being tricked out of taking the right one (for a while). Our minds can’t help themselves from insisting the mistake should be corrected, that the irrational juxtaposition of images be untangled, that normal life be restored. Is there a purpose in this process that happens within us?

That part about creative potential, maybe?

Lily spots it once again. What gets called forth from the unconscious mind when faced with the loss of someone we love? What is it that this wrenching shift in our lives enables us to create?

One thing I’ve created is a memorial trifecta, a race to celebrate Bruce’s life in three separate cities that started last Saturday and ends December 1. It’s a goofy way to proceed. Lily and I may yet have a “tour” t-shirt made (we have a weird sense of humor, even in grief). What is the prize for this triple-crown extravaganza? Perhaps the belief that I’ve properly honored the complicated life of a person loved by many. If I hadn’t taken this approach, I might have done nothing.

That wouldn’t have felt right. Bruce’s nearest and dearest deserve the opportunity to come together, to share with each other in honoring and mourning him if it helps ease their pain. It’s okay with me if family members and friends choose not to participate. We all grieve differently. There is no right or wrong way.

That’s the reality of it.

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