Frankly, it never occurred to me to drink in the morning. There have been times when I wished I could feel some kind of release in alcohol, but I don’t. There was a period when I was dealing a lot with death, the slow dying of people I loved, and there were twenty-four hours days I spent bedside in the ICU catching five minute naps and feeding on cups of pudding the nurses would hand me at two in the morning. I would hear the soft steps of the staff, the hum of the air purifiers, and sometimes my mother calling for her mother in the voice of a seven year-old. When I would get home from that, the sky would darken, the time would come when I should be sleeping then I would go to the freezer and pull out a bottle of vodka and pour myself a clear syrupy shot and down it in one and still I would lie in bed and listen, waiting. Maybe it was my metabolism, or maybe when death demands your attention there’s nothing on earth that will silence it.
September 11, 2015 / Vickie Lester
“Ordinarily I was not a morning drinker. The Southern California climate is too soft for it. You don’t metabolize fast enough.” Raymond Chandler
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I hear you sister, the night I got the last news a coyote woke me up in the wee hours, I checked my email and there it was sent moments before, time to pack my bag for the last trip to Alameda, she was startling in her clarity and intention till the end, I sort of loved her more for that than anything else.
I love that when the doctor’s told us she was brain damaged, she took the pen out J’s hand and wrote him a note telling him to bring her New Yorker magazines, I think she jotted down something like, “I may not be able to talk but, I can still read.” Clarity and intention. xox, V
Beautiful, powerful, and True. Rachel’s comment and your response are extremely moving, while your description of your mother’s wit, strength, “clarity and intention” even in the face of awful obstacle is inspiring.
As for the inability of alcohol to silence the clamour of onrushing death, you are so right. For some indulgence in booze can appear to keep pain and disturbance away but only for awhile as it is an illusion, in the end for people like that alcohol is usually nothing but death in disguise.
Such an evocative and profoundly moving post, Vickie. The persistence of the memory of past pain is perfectly captured, yet, more importantly, the persistence of your Love shines through.
Thank you, George. A couple of years ago I don’t think it would have been possible for me to write that paragraph—time makes the emotional response less jagged.
Beautifully written, and so true…
Also true, I’m considering having my body ironed 😉 even though I haven’t quite reached that age group.
On a serious note, I hope you’re not going through the death of a parent, and if you are, I send my love.
‘when death demands your attention there’s nothing on earth that will silence it.’ I expect you’re right. 🙁
It’s probably the most difficult, most emotionally obliterating ordeal anyone goes through. I guess the miracle of it is that those that are dying usually just want you to know it’s okay and that they love you.
Yes, that is the extraordinary miracle.
Holy sheepshit… I just read the words in your title THIS MORNING as I was reading “The Long Goodbye”… I thought I was having deja-who or something. DAMN! That was so weird. I am in a complete literary love affair with Raymond Chandler just now, and am licking up pages of him every day. Whooooooooooahboy!
Sorry… now that I’ve read the post, I see my exuberance is mis-placed. Foot-in-mouth disease? I has it. But then again, I can totally drink in the morning. As long as it’s not a work day. Usually when I’m going to watch “Withnail & I” again, or Kennth Branagh’s “Hamlet”. My dad died of multiple myeloma in 2008, so I can totally relate to the hospital scene. Death makes me angry. So do all the mail requests for money by cancer research organizations, all of which started showing up after he died. I gleefully and hatefully stuff them in the bin and stomp on them. Bastards.
I’ve finished “The Long Goodbye” and have moved on to Dashiell Hammett’s “Maltese Falcon” — being on semi-vacation and reading the masters of noir is suiting me just fine!
I raise my glass to you (right now it’s a cup of tea, but you’ll have to let me slide), here’s to staying angry at death. xox, V
Yes, my mother called for her mother as she lay dying. As other commentators have noted, the truths in your apercu (pretentious term but I can’t call it a common-or-garden post) resonate like death itself. I shivered in the sun. A promise of another VL novel. XXX and appreciation from England.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write about that fully… But I am working on another novel 😉 . Had a bit of a scare yesterday as my brothers both live in an area of California that was evacuated because of wildfires, so today I am heading to set with the Mister, calming (?) not exactly, but it will keep me occupied. Love from Boston, V
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