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My sister outlaw died Monday and I am sad.

Another noder and I discuss whether we know more dead people than live people.

I call the nursing home and ask if the two patients being cared for by the in house doctor have died. "B is no longer here." says the employee.

"Did she die or get discharged?"

"I don't know."

"If she got discharged, I need to know, because I am her primary care doctor. I need to see her in follow up. And if she died, I want to know."

Paper scrabbles and we are cut off.

I call back. Get another person. "B died."

"When?"

"I don't know."

"I want the summary. Find it and send it to me. What about H?"

"H is still alive."

H is in hospice, his choice. "I want to be notified when H dies."

They promise. I went to see both and will go back. H was asleep. I want to say goodbye.

___________________________

Do you have enough dead to talk to? I do. Family and patients. Sometimes a patient dies and I find out at church or from their neighbor or from our little weekly paper. I cut out the newspaper memorials. Three in the last two weeks.

I wrote End of Life Plan as a joke. But the joke is on me: if I were to live past 100, my peers would be dead and family and friends. Even passing 50, I know a huge number of dead, though that is partly the doctor gig.

The dead don't argue. Except my mother. I have her diaries. Going through her art, over and over she did pictures in pairs. Kitchen window realistic. Then kitchen window II, with the flowers and vines and pots and shadows morphed into monsters and dragons and elves and fairies. She did this way more than I realized.

Her diaries are the same. Her persona was all charm, people adored her, my maternal family wants to know why the hell I can't be like her. But her diaries are the other side, the dark side, grim and fighting and angry and depressed. What she hid from everyone except my father.

__________________________

I have heard women ask each other, "Promise me you will destroy my diaries if I die suddenly. I don't want anyone to read them."

I don't know what my mother wanted. She left the diaries, my sister died, my father died. And my mother was a prolific artist. And diarist.

So I won't destroy the words that go with the art. I will publish it, I hope. Or on line. Or give the diaries to her college, to study. They go back to high school. She kept it all.

__________________________

My maternal family has made it clear that to be loved, I have to toe the line. I have to shut up about certain things, many things. One person said that if I "made him choose" between me and his sister, he'd choose her. Another said that she only wanted to discuss good memories about my mother, father and sister.

Ok, I guess that's how it is. But it reminds me of false news, right? We won't talk about any of the dark stuff, we won't process anger or disappointment or horror or grief. We won't discuss the lawsuits or justice or felonies or lies or scamming money. Apparently in my maternal family the dead are angels.

I can't do it and don't want to do it. I don't want to be this divided person like my mother. Who hides half of herself, can't tell anyone, has no one with whom to be real. And the split grows inside, like a cancer. It is surely coincidence that she and my sister died of cancer, right? That is what I am supposed to believe. And the forest fire smoke for the last week: my sister was a forest fire fighter. Did that hasten cancer, stage IIIB breast cancer at age 41?

I want to be whole and myself. If that means alone, so be it. And I am never alone. I have the deer, my cat, my patients, the trees, the universe. Ok, and the little ants in my kitchen: I wish for less of them. But they want to live and I do too.

music from Oliver Twist: Consider yourself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0a1HYYmiXM