Grief Is Another Country

The other front pagers have been covering the Newtown disaster amply.  I have nothing to add, at least not yet.

I’ve lost much of today thinking about the parents, which has pretty much frozen my brain in place.

It’s a cliché, but still, absolutely true:  there is no loss like that of a child.  To my great good fortune and deepest fear, that’s a catastrophe I do not know.

Anthony_van_Dyck_-_Family_Portrait_-_WGA07414

But I did see it up close.  Without belaboring personal details (and a story that is not mine alone), my father predeceased my grandmother.  She lasted months only after that calamity, and that’s all I’m going to say about that for now.

But it’s the utter wreck that such a loss wreaks on those it touches that I’ve been turning over in my head all day.  John caught a lot of that with this post, which I read this morning, but that just made me think on it the more.  At some point during the day, it came to me, a stray wisp of memory — some words that I had once encountered that I half recalled to be as close as anything to give voice to something of what parents feel in these circumstances.

Decades ago, some years after we lost my dad, I capped a wholly undistinguished college acting career with a bit part in one of the lesser Shakespeares, King John.  Even Bill’s second tier work has flashes of seemingly impossible insight delivered in otherworldly language.  Act III of King John erupts in such a moment, at the point when Constance, believes her son, Arthur, has been doomed to murder at the order of King John.  I looked it up and here’s what I found:

CARDINAL PANDULPH
Lady, you utter madness, and not sorrow.

CONSTANCE
Thou art not holy to belie me so;
I am not mad: this hair I tear is mine;
My name is Constance; I was Geffrey’s wife;
Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost:
I am not mad: I would to heaven I were!
For then, ’tis like I should forget myself:
O, if I could, what grief should I forget!
Preach some philosophy to make me mad,
And thou shalt be canonized, cardinal;
For being not mad but sensible of grief,
My reasonable part produces reason
How I may be deliver’d of these woes,
And teaches me to kill or hang myself:
If I were mad, I should forget my son,
Or madly think a babe of clouts were he:
I am not mad; too well, too well I feel
The different plague of each calamity.

KING PHILIP
Bind up those tresses. O, what love I note
In the fair multitude of those her hairs!
Where but by chance a silver drop hath fallen,
Even to that drop ten thousand wiry friends
Do glue themselves in sociable grief,
Like true, inseparable, faithful loves,
Sticking together in calamity.

CONSTANCE
To England, if you will.

KING PHILIP
Bind up your hairs.

CONSTANCE
Yes, that I will; and wherefore will I do it?
I tore them from their bonds and cried aloud
‘O that these hands could so redeem my son,
As they have given these hairs their liberty!’
But now I envy at their liberty,
And will again commit them to their bonds,
Because my poor child is a prisoner.
And, father cardinal, I have heard you say
That we shall see and know our friends in heaven:
If that be true, I shall see my boy again;
For since the birth of Cain, the first male child,
To him that did but yesterday suspire,
There was not such a gracious creature born.
But now will canker-sorrow eat my bud
And chase the native beauty from his cheek
And he will look as hollow as a ghost,
As dim and meagre as an ague’s fit,
And so he’ll die; and, rising so again,
When I shall meet him in the court of heaven
I shall not know him: therefore never, never
Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.

CARDINAL PANDULPH
You hold too heinous a respect of grief.

CONSTANCE
He talks to me that never had a son.

KING PHILIP
You are as fond of grief as of your child.

CONSTANCE
Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?
Fare you well: had you such a loss as I,
I could give better comfort than you do.
I will not keep this form upon my head,
When there is such disorder in my wit.
O Lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son!
My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!
My widow-comfort, and my sorrows’ cure!
–William Shakespeare, King John, Act III, Scene 4

My thoughts and all sympathy to the families of those now burdened with grief, or, as it is customarily said at such times in my Jewish tradition, “may they be comforted wtih the other mourners of Jerusalem and Zion.”

Image:  Anthony van Dyck, Family Portrait, 1621.

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85 replies
  1. 1
    cckids says:

    Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
    Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
    Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
    Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
    Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
    Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?
    Fare you well: had you such a loss as I,
    I could give better comfort than you do.

    Shakespeare did know the grief of a parent losing a child, I’m not sure if his son had died yet when he wrote this, but he did have a way of getting inside the emotions of others.

    Some good friends here lost their son in an accident this summer; the pain is so entirely consuming of your life & your heart. And yet you have to go on, especially if you have other children. I read somewhere that a parent who’d lost a child wrote that “people always tell you that time heals the wounds. It doesn’t. All time does is get you accustomed to living your life in a different way, without the one you’ve lost”.

  2. 2
    leeleeFL says:

    I lost my son a little over a year ago. Grief for a lost child is by far the worst thing a parent can experience. It makes little difference how old your child is when it happens. A parent knows they had more life coming, because the parent is still breathing.
    I know their pain. It doesn’t get better. Like the post says, you learn to live in a different world.

  3. 3
    Richard Fox says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. It speaks across the centuries. What a writer.
    On a less somber note, Your taste is art is impeccable. I always look forward to seeing what work you will use to highlight a point. Art gives me solace and today I looked at a book filled with Watteau drawings. Turned the news off, and kept my mind focused on the studies he did of hands and half turned faces. Must say my looking at these images helped focus my thoughts and composed my mind, if anything could. Cheers, and thanks again.

  4. 4
    Raven says:

    HAVE you news of my boy Jack? ”
    Not this tide.
    “When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
    Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

    “Has any one else had word of him?”
    Not this tide.
    For what is sunk will hardly swim,
    Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

    “Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
    None this tide,
    Nor any tide,
    Except he did not shame his kind—
    Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

    Then hold your head up all the more,
    This tide,
    And every tide;
    Because he was the son you bore,
    And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.

    Kipling

  5. 5
    PurpleGirl says:

    Fred Clark (Slactivist) has posted a number of links to other people’s postings on the massacre. One of them, blogged by a funeral director, lists various aspects of his work as it relates to the massacre. The funeral director mentions a group that arranges to pay burial costs for families that have lost children in things like mass shootings. According to this man, there are so many people who donated and several non-profit groups who work in this area, that the costs have already been covered for all the families.

    In a weird way this made my heart feel good — to know that these families will not have to be burdened by trying to pay funeral costs.

    Anyway, if anyone wants to read some related writings but not exactly about the shootings, stop by Slacktivist. It may make you feel better and make you better able to cope.

  6. 6
    gogol's wife says:

    I don’t have any children, but this is tearing me up. I just keep thinking about what those little kids suffered right before they died. I can’t take it.

    I know how even one murder radiates out and affects so many people and so many aspects of their lives. What’s happened in Newtown is simply unimaginable.

  7. 7
    Cassidy says:

    Deleted by request…anti-spambot activity.

  8. 8
    WereBear says:

    These events always remind me that losing at least one child, at a young age, was the norm for most of human history. Even such a starchy character as Cotton Mather cried out to his god when he lost his young daughter.

    Though that doesn’t help anyone’s pain now, we should remember that; we have advanced.

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    @Cassidy: Check with ABL. Didn’t she start a PAC for her Uterati group?

  10. 10
    gogol's wife says:

    @Cassidy:

    I don’t either. I’m starting from scratch, tomorrow morning.

  11. 11
    Violet says:

    @WereBear: Yeah, so many children were lost to illness before immunizations and other more modern medical advances. And so many women died due to pregnancy complications or childbirth. We have come a long way.

  12. 12
    Chris says:

    Tom, I’m glad you’re around posting these days.

    Yeah, I saw this first hand 3 times in the last 5 years…my brother, as a young adult – my good friend’s 6 year old, of neuroblastoma, and my nephew, 9 years old of brain tumor.

    Its just a heartbreak to witness, let alone experience.

  13. 13
    Raven says:

    I went to the funeral of the 90 year old mother of a friend today. One of the infants started fussing and the father walked her out to another room. The child screamed for about 10 minutes straight and it was very difficult not to think about yesterday.

  14. 14
    Raven says:

    @Cassidy: Craiglist has “Groups” section under “Community”.

  15. 15
    Raven says:

    @Cassidy: When you put your email addy in a post replace the @ with “at” and the .com wit “dot com.

  16. 16
    WereBear says:

    @Chris: I’m so sorry.

    I hesitated even bringing it up, because of course it is wrenching no matter when it happens.

    When we have done so much; it’s even more despairing and infuriating. These children were supposed to be safe.

  17. 17
    gene108 says:

    My view right now is to demand repeal of the 2nd Amendment and take away everyone’s guns.

    If gun lovers don’t like it, then let them come up with suggestions to solve other issues related to mass shootings like improving mental health treatment.

    The burden is on them to man up and solve this, before others stomp on their hobby.

  18. 18
    Cassidy says:

    @Raven: Gotcha.

    john dot cassidy1001 at gmail dot com

  19. 19
    Raven says:

    @Cassidy: I think it’s too late to 86 the earlier one?

  20. 20

    Anyone think it’s a coincidence that Obama’s election resulted in a spike in gun sales, and nearly half of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S. have occurred since Obama was first elected? Just wondered.

  21. 21
    Elizabelle says:

    @Raven:

    Maybe Tom or a moderator could remove post 7 before the spambots bite?

  22. 22
    Raven says:

    @Southern Beale: No to one yes to two.

  23. 23
    Raven says:

    @Elizabelle: Be nice but I don’t know how much the FP’s are really here.

  24. 24
    Elizabelle says:

    @leeleeFL:

    So sorry to hear of your loss.

    TOM: beautiful artwork and excellent Shakespeare passage.

    I cannot even imagine losing one of those beautiful young faces from Newtown, or the wonderful adults who educated and protected them.

    I would rather lose an arm, both legs, my sight, than lose one of my nephews. And I am just an aunt. They’re irreplaceable, and the life of our family.

  25. 25
    gf120581 says:

    There’s just something fundamentally wrong about children dying before their parents. It goes against the natural order of things. And when children die this young, it’s even worse.

    I have no idea how the parents of the deceased children of Newtown are going to cope with this. Losing their children this young was bad enough, but losing them in such a horrible fashion is agony beyond words. I mean, Lanza shot them repeatedly at close range with a high-powered assault rifle. From what I understand, they had to identify the children via photographs to spare the parents the sight of their children’s remains. Words can’t describe that nightmare.

    And it’s not just the parents, think of the siblings of these children. One especially heartbreaking tidbit was the little boy who, when told his sister had died, asked, “Who am I going to play with now?”

  26. 26
    Violet says:

    @Southern Beale: If only the black man hadn’t stolen the election, the patriotic gun owners wouldn’t be forced to buy more guns to protect themselves and people wouldn’t feel the need to go on killing sprees to make a point about how this is a soshulist state and the government is going to steal your guns.

    Did I get that about right?

  27. 27
    RedKitten says:

    The problem is that there is a large segment of society that is completely and utterly devoid of empathy for other living humans (unless they’re still in the womb. Did you know that pro-choicers are WORSE than Adam Lanza? That’s what I’ve been told.) They say that they care about those kids, but aren’t interested in doing anything to make society safer if it involves any personal inconvenience to them. And yet, these are the same people who supported the PATRIOT act. I have decided that they are basically a completely different species of human, and that I should waste only so much time engaging them on such matters.

  28. 28
    Anya says:

    In my Lucia’s absence
    Life hangs upon me, and becomes a burden;
    I am ten times undone, while hope, and fear,
    And grief, and rage and love rise up at once,
    And with variety of pain distract me.
    ~Joseph Addison

  29. 29
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Raven: Vide supra, blackbird.

  30. 30
    Elizabelle says:

    @Raven:

    Now there’s a challenge.

    FRONT PAGERS? MODERATORS? Lookee here, please.

  31. 31
    Raven says:

    @Tom Levenson: You are a great citizen!

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    I had faith in you, Mr. Levenson. Suspected you lurked!

  33. 33
    Raven says:

    @Elizabelle: We take care of our own up in here.

  34. 34
    Cassidy says:

    @Cassidy: My earlier deleted post was asking for anyone with any experience to send me tips and knowledge on starting citizen advocacy groups. We got nothing here, but I’m tired of being angry and having this some infuriating, heartbreaking, god awful conversation every couple of weeks. Anything you know will be helpful. I don’t know what I can or will ultimately do, but I’m going to try.

  35. 35
    Raven says:

    @Cassidy: I emailed you.

  36. 36
    Elizabelle says:

    @Cassidy:

    Here’s an overview on the philosophy of organizing by Al Giordano, who runs the superb Narco News. Mostly focuses on Latin America now, but an expert observer of the US political scene.

    Nothing Is Ever Won Without Organizing

    Remarks to the First Nonviolence Training Session of the Mexican Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity

  37. 37
  38. 38
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Elizabelle: Just lucky I checked before fixing the sprout’s grilled cheese.

  39. 39
    cmorenc says:

    Back before the early 1900s, it was a far more commonplace occurrence for one or more children in families to die before adulthood. Many childhood diseases which are prevented or routinely treated with no more than a handful of days home from school were deadly. This doesn’t mean that these deaths weren’t seen as tragic; for example, Abraham Lincoln never completely got over the loss of his son Edward to tuberculosis. However, back then it was seen as a more commonly normal incident of life than as an something unfortunately exceptional.

    Those of us whose family lineage has been at least in part in the United States since the 1800s, who have taken enough interest to do a little geneology (or sometimes even just listened to our grandparents speak about family before our time) have likely come across predecessors who bore half a dozen or more children, only perhaps two-thirds of whom lived to adulthood.

  40. 40
    leeleeFL says:

    U6@Elizabelle: thank you. I just read Chris’s post about his losses and wanted to say sorry as well to him. I can’t imagine three such painful losses in short time.

  41. 41
    Anya says:

    I am angry. Really, really angry. THis should not have happened. I am watching the vigil and all I am doing is cry. I am tired of being angry. I want to put that energy into something else. This should never happen again. We need to extract a meaningful lesson from this tragedy. We must defeat the NRA. I found out this weekend that the NRA and KKK have some sort of a link in their beginning. NRA apparently started when the KKK was outlawed.

  42. 42
    Violet says:

    @Cassidy: Highly recommend Doing Democracy.

  43. 43
    Elizabelle says:

    @Cassidy:

    So glad you’re going to work on this. As many of us who can, need to.

    Knock on doors. Listen to what people tell you; work their contacts too. Have some house parties/get togethers, where you talk to parents, who may or may not have guns, and even interested teens and college students.

    Get folks together over dessert or beers and chips or whatever. What can you do, with what you have, to stop this violence?

    Everyone has a local elementary school, and no one wants to see it getting shot up.

    That suggestion about peaceful protest outside a gun show? Sounds intriguing.

    Coincidentally, I’m co-hosting our neighborhood’s “moms” night out tomorrow night, and kind of hoping the conversation will turn this direction. Will be all ears and plying them with martinis and wine.

    (Some of my neighbors are already stressed and delighted with a lowkey evening, so I don’t want to be an opportunist, but I can’t see this not coming up. Lots of young kids on our street. We can see our elementary school through the bare trees.)

  44. 44
    Raven says:

    @Cassidy: Use your Veteran status.

  45. 45
    Linnaeus says:

    I really like the art that Tom posts, especially the Dutch Renaissance stuff. I often find it really compelling; I’m a historian, so I’m trained to look upon the past as a foreign country (and for good reason), but at the same time, when I see a painting like this family portrait, there’s a lot there that’s not at all foreign.

  46. 46
    JPL says:

    Many years ago, a woman told me a story about arguing with a son before he went out with friends. He didn’t come home after a car crash. Since then I have always hugged my sons when they leave. One time I forgot and my son came back in and said forget anything?

    @leeleeFL: I’m so sorry and I can’t imagine your pain.

  47. 47
    Elizabelle says:

    @Linnaeus:

    But for the clothing and setting, this family looks so modern. Anthony van Dyck.

    Can’t you just see the man and woman in sweaters and jeans, at your coffee shop? It’s not hard to imagine them as Amish, either.

    They don’t seem as from the distant past as some of the more mannered paintings.

  48. 48
    Raven says:

    I didn’t realize President Obama was there now.

  49. 49
    gene108 says:

    So why did overall gun sales begin going up well before President Obama was elected? The answer is in the way American’s view guns. In 1959 some 60 percent of the American public favored handgun bans, according to Gallup, whereas today 73 percent oppose such bans and only 26 percent want bans on handguns.

    From a Forbes article on the causes of increased gun sales over the last 10 years.

    If you really want to change people’s perception on the gun debate, we need to remind folks that (1) crime is going down and (2) they don’t need to be armed 24/7 to be safe.

    In short, we need to have people develop a negative view on conceal carry and other laws that have been pushed in the past generation by the gun lobby.

  50. 50
    Raven says:

    @gene108: Pat Lang on all this:

    Pens and guns were needed then and are needed now. The 2nd Amendment was put in the Constitution AFTER the revolution. It had nothing to do with the British. Insurrection is not the intention. What is needed is the political weight of an armed citizenry in the balance against government recklessness. The police, even at local levels, are far too arrogant and willing to push citizens around. Here, in my home place, the local police force “raided’ a local home last weekend and ordered several dozen kids out onto the lawn where they lined them up and breathalysed them in the cold night. This took several hours. A neighborhood woman and a man who is a federal prosecutor objected to this proceeding and were both threatened with arrest on various grounds. You want the police to have an absolute monopoly on potential force? pl ”

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com.....l#comments

  51. 51
    gene108 says:

    @Raven:

    he 2nd Amendment was put in the Constitution AFTER the revolution. It had nothing to do with the British. Insurrection is not the intention. What is needed is the political weight of an armed citizenry in the balance against government recklessness.

    I wonder how many people changed police procedures at the point of a gun, in American history?

    Dumbest argument evah…

  52. 52
    Raven says:

    @gene108: These people are dead-ass serious and I believe many of them are willing to die.

  53. 53
    4tehlulz says:

    @Raven: I’m sure slavery had nothing to do with it either.

  54. 54
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Raven: As I type, the President hasn’t yet spoken. But the cameras keep cutting to him. I am, once again, impressed with how fully present he is. I’m glad this interfaith service started almost an hour behind schedule. It tells me that POTUS spent as much time as he needed to with the families.

    I’m an agnatheist, but I’m finding the multicultural and ecumenical prayers and statements extremely moving. Powerful.

  55. 55
    Anya says:

    I hope there are non-religious speakers.
    Watch Fox News presenters’ collective heads exploding at the inclusion of Muslim prayers — although it was more a statement than a pryer.

  56. 56
    SatanicPanic says:

    I can’t imagine life without my son. I don’t think I could handle it. This is really the first time in my life where something in the news has filled me with so much sadness. America HAS to show the parents that this isn’t going to happen to others. WE HAVE TO.

  57. 57
    Mnemosyne says:

    I still remember my best friend who died when we were in preschool, Thomas. I could probably still take you to the park and point the exact tree that we planted in his memory.

    The surviving children in this story will never forget Friday or the friends and family they lost. Never.

  58. 58
    Ruckus says:

    @Cassidy:
    I’m in.
    The only way this gets any better is if we make it better. It is an uphill battle to say the least but if I have a choice to do one good thing in this life I can’t think of much better.

  59. 59
    Raven says:

    Tim O’Brien “The Lives of the Dead” from “The Things They Carried”

    “Well, right now,” she said, “I’m not dead. But when I am, it’s like…I don’t know, I guess it’s like being inside a book that nobody’s reading.”
    “A book?” I said.
    “An old one. It’s up on a library shelf, so you’re safe and everything, but the book hasn’t been checked out for a long, long time. All you can do is wait. Just hope somebody’ll pick it up and start reading.” (245)

  60. 60
    Raven says:

    They even broke in on the football game.

  61. 61
    Elizabelle says:

    President Obama speaking now at vigil.

  62. 62
    gene108 says:

    @Raven:

    Unfortunately these people have been winning the PR battle regarding gun laws.

    I do agree with you that they are serious.

    I think John Cole’s statement about right-wingers hating us and there’s no room for compromise is probably most pronounced on the gun laws and abortion.

    I don’t see much hope in things changing anytime soon.

  63. 63
    Raven says:

    @gene108: Which is why I emailed him and asked him to take Pat Lang off the blogroll.

  64. 64
    Ruckus says:

    @gene108:
    Have been winning. We need to make that past tense consistent.

    And change it to are losing.

  65. 65
    Anya says:

    President Obama really talking about the problem. “Can we say we’re keeping our children safe?”

  66. 66
    Elizabelle says:

    Good tack to take. Excerpts:

    Are we doing all that we can to protect our children?

    The answer is no.

    And we will have to change.

    Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we’ve come together to [comfort a community victim to gun violence], with victims whose only ___ was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    We can’t tolerate this any more. These tragedies must end.

    And we must change.

    Tucscon. Aurora. Oak Creek. Newtown. Columbine and Blacksburg before that.

    In the coming weeks, I will use every power this office holds to engage [others] in effort to prevent further tragedies

    Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard?

    That the violence visited on our children is somehow the price of our freedom?

  67. 67
    Elizabelle says:

    So so glad the networks are covering this. We fail if we don’t get a handle on this.

  68. 68
    leeleeFL says:

    I am prouder of the President this minute than I have ever been. He went “there” when it was unexpected and I think he may be the bravest man it’s been my privilege to know.

  69. 69
    Elizabelle says:

    Perfect speech. Tone just right.

    And eerie that he talked of our mission, so long as God permits us time on this earth.

    He is up to the task of solving this most horrible problem of our time, and he needs us to have his back, and Congress’s back as we wrestle with this.

  70. 70
    Paul says:

    @Raven:

    A neighborhood woman and a man who is a federal prosecutor objected to this proceeding and were both threatened with arrest on various grounds. You want the police to have an absolute monopoly on potential force? pl ”

    So what the hell is she saying; is she saying that the neighborhood woman/man should start shooting the cops? Which planet does pat lang come from? This 2012, not 1812. We have a court system in place if the police misbehaves. Yes, it’s not perfect but it sure as hell beats shooting people.

  71. 71
    Anya says:

    The President went there and asked the tough questions. He put the issue on the table. Now it’s our turn to support him, and to fight along side with him, instead of questioning and undermining.

  72. 72
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @leeleeFL:

    I think he may be the bravest man it’s been my privilege to know.

    You know Barack Obama?

    Wow. Cool.

  73. 73
    Anya says:

    @Ted & Hellen: Fuck off. We do not need your brand of trolling tonight.

  74. 74
    leeleeFL says:

    @Anya: Thanks for that. I was busy sending a thank you to the whitehouse.gov site and just came back here. Have to watch my taking of poetic license.

  75. 75
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Anya:

    The President went there and asked the tough questions. He put the issue on the table. Now it’s our turn to support him, and to fight along side with him, instead of questioning and undermining.

    You are the most pathetic, mindless Obot of all, I think.

    Where the hell has your BO been the last four years on this issue? Where has his brave leadership been? Nowhere, is where.

    There have been way too many mass shootings before and during his administration…where has he been? Tell me, bot.

    You are an embarrassment; nothing but a silly Obama high school groupie. You should be ashamed of your sycophancy. This is allegedly a democracy; not a monarchy or dictatorship in which you would be most comfortable, as long as your dream lover was the leader.

  76. 76
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @leeleeFL:

    And thank YOU, Lee lee loo loo…I was busy baking bread for our boys overseas and just got back here myself.

  77. 77
    Ted & Hellen says:

    But seriously, lee lee loo loon, how long have you and Barack been friends? DYING to know.

  78. 78
    BGinCHI says:

    To anyone still lurking on this thread and interested in another profound early modern take on child loss, please read Ben Jonson’s two little poems “On My First Son” and “On My First Daughter.”

    So great and so sad.

  79. 79
    brighidg says:

    You’re baking bread for “our boys” overseas? WTF, I can’t think of a more useless gesture than to send easily squished and spoiled food they already have instead of something they might actually need or want.

    You seem stupid so while I’m hoping that’s just a lie you came up with to seem like a worthwhile human being, I’ll have to accept it’s probably the truth.

  80. 80
    The Fat Kate Middleton says:

    @PurpleGirl: When our little great-granddaughter died last spring, I was tasked with the duty of finding a funeral home whose services our family could afford, and would, of course, also provide a service that would give us comfort. I contacted only two firms … the first quoted fees nearing ten thousand dollars ( should mention that the parents of our darling were both full-time students), and the second quoted fees a little over ten percent of the first figure. The second firm told us that this was standard policy for the services they provided for babies. I paraphrase: “The last thing these families need is a fear of inability to pay for their baby’s service.” I was – and remain – so moved by their compassion and generosity. And I will always turn to them in the future for any other of our family’s losses.

  81. 81
    The Fat Kate Middleton says:

    @Ted & Hellen: Maybe Leelee doesn’t, but I do. And he is. To quote others here, off you fuck.

  82. 82
    Betsy says:

    TOM your help needed at threescore-and-fifteen, &ff.

  83. 83
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @The Fat Kate Middleton:

    Maybe Leelee doesn’t, but I do.

    Why don’t you tell us about your friendship with Barack, Fat Kate?

  84. 84
    leeleeFL says:

    @The Fat Kate Middleton: I am so sorry for your loss Kate. So very sorry.

  85. 85
    David Brooks (not that one) says:

    Jesus, Tom. I was holding it together until you posted that last speech (I wasn’t familiar with King John). Now I’m in my office weeping behind a closed door.

    Keeping it, but not sharing it with my family. Although I bet my son John, who’s a teacher in Connecticut, knows it.

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