Open Thread


As many of you know, one of our commenters Gex lost her partner Kate to cancer recently. I just wanted to mention that Gex emailed me to thank you all for your support, care and kindness. As she puts it:

People love to latch on to how technology can distance us from others. It’s true, it can. But it has such a great capacity for connecting us. I see that with the community supporting us on Facebook and here at Balloon-Juice. Beyond losing Kate, this massive outpouring of love will be life changing for me, I think. Cole may be the crankiest misanthrope ever, but I’m right up there. I’ll be slipping down in the rankings, perhaps unranked, by the time this is over.

Relatedly, I saw this the other day on the wonderful Letters of Note website. In April 1998, while excavating a 16th century tomb in Andong City, South Korea, archaeologists found a letter which had been placed onto the chest of the deceased, a 30 year old man, by his widow. I find it inexpressibly sad, but also very beautiful.

To Won’s Father

June 1, 1586

You always said, “Dear, let’s live together until our hair turns gray and die on the same day.” How could you pass away without me? Who should I and our little boy listen to and how should we live? How could you go ahead of me?

How did you bring your heart to me and how did I bring my heart to you? Whenever we lay down together you always told me, “Dear, do other people cherish and love each other like we do? Are they really like us?” How could you leave all that behind and go ahead of me?

I just cannot live without you. I just want to go to you. Please take me to where you are. My feelings toward you I cannot forget in this world and my sorrow knows no limit. Where would I put my heart in now and how can I live with the child missing you?

Please look at this letter and tell me in detail in my dreams. Because I want to listen to your saying in detail in my dreams I write this letter and put it in. Look closely and talk to me.

When I give birth to the child in me, who should it call father? Can anyone fathom how I feel? There is no tragedy like this under the sky.

You are just in another place, and not in such a deep grief as I am. There is no limit and end to my sorrows that I write roughly. Please look closely at this letter and come to me in my dreams and show yourself in detail and tell me. I believe I can see you in my dreams. Come to me secretly and show yourself. There is no limit to what I want to say and I stop here.

If you’d like to help Gex out then the give forward page for Kate is here.

[Image: A Widow – Thomas Couture (1815-1879)]

135 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    Elizabelle says:

    That letter from the new widow is so poignant and timeless.

    I’m glad Gex found some comfort in the BJ commentariat. You take your comfort, and friends, where you find them.

  3. 3

    I agree with Gex, while the internet has allowed many people to become annonymous assholes it has also allowed people all over the country and indeed the world to become a community. I have often likened it to an online pub, where people meet up for a drink a couple of days a week. I have not had the opportunity to attend a BJ meet up but I have had the opportunity to meet up with gardening friends from the HGTV gardening boards and more recently met up with my friends from The Fogbow (anti-birthers), we had a fabulous time and it was so nice to put faces to the names on the board.

  4. 4
    aimai says:

    So beautiful. Thanks for posting it.

  5. 5
    Mike E says:

    Kate RIP.

    Tonight on Nova: Dronez!! I thought I saw Aqua Buddha in the teaser, the Kochs fave boy on the payroll.

  6. 6
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    What a beautiful letter Sarah. One day in the future either my wife or I will pass on, leaving the other behind to deal with the heartache. At times I look at her and our kids and tear up with the thought that one day I will no longer be here for them to depend on. That or I will be left behind to deal with the loss on my own. I treasure every single day I have with my family knowing that one day this will all change.

    You have my heartfelt condolences Gex. Best wishes and please take care of yourself.

  7. 7
    Robin G. says:

    I sobbed.

  8. 8
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I think Gex’ point about technology connecting us as well as distancing us is very profound. The Internet, like all technologies, is neutral. It’s what we do with it that makes it a positive or a negative force. I’m very glad that, for Gex, it has been largely positive in these indescribably difficult days, and I hope she will find it so in the days, weeks,and months to come.

    Whether it’s a cat, or a partner, or a parent — I’m always knocked out at how the BJ community (and others, although not nearly to the same extent) rallies in loving support. This is one of the main reasons I keep coming back.

    Well, and the snark, the politics, the recipes, the pets, the music….

  9. 9
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’ve mentioned online before that G and I have a running joke about a fantasy theme park for Fox News (currently given the clever name “Fox News Land”) where avid Fox News watchers could go and visit Fox News-themed attractions, pose for pictures with the Fox News Princesses, etc.

    Here’s where it gets weird.

    I was talking to my brother yesterday and he said he had a vivid dream about our late father where my brother got very upset because Pop was walking around having a good time at a theme park. And, of course, I immediately assumed that he’s having a good time at Fox News Land while he waits for the rest of us.

  10. 10
    Maude says:

    And because Tunch is floofy.
    People I know don’t talk about the world around them. Online makes it possible to do this.

  11. 11
    Gwangung says:

    Gex, you’re still one of us, and y’all deserve shut now.

  12. 12
    Schlemizel says:

    I often feel very useless offering condolences to someone I have never met IRL for their loss. It actually is comforting to me to know that GEX found some comfort in the words we offered. Its nice to be part of this community.

    Thanks GEX, I hope you find the peace you deserve.

  13. 13
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Floofy Tunch, absolutely. It’s weird, I feel closer to a lot of people on B-J than I do to members of my own family. And not that there’s any estrangement or animosity, just that I actually spend orders of magnitude more time in the company of the denizens of these environs than I do with my own kin.

  14. 14
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Well, it seems you have said everything I was thinking, so I’ve nothing to add.
    Well said.

  15. 15
    Calming Influence says:

    Love’s a double-edged sword, but I’ll always be thankful that I’m holding it.

  16. 16
    Yutsano says:

    That letter was quite lovely dear. Much love and otterz to gex. She’ll understand that.

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Christ, SP&T, don’t post stuff like that letter. I’ll get teary, and it’ll fuck up all my street cred.

  18. 18
    Raven says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: The letter from Korea is interesting, especially in light of the historical significance of this date in the Land of the Morning Calm.

  19. 19
    300baud says:

    Gex, I lost someone close far too quickly during the early part of chemo. I know how shocking it is to go suddenly from we’re-going-to-beat-this to blank-eyed shuffling around the halls of the hospital, trying not to freak out people too much with the crying. My heart goes out to you.

  20. 20
    redshirt says:

    The Internet (and its descendents in the years to come) will change humanity in major ways. That we can “know” folks worlwide, in an instant, is a game changer. That we can share our innermost hopes and fears, our desires and repulsions, our humor and angst, is a perceptible “step up” in human evolution, as we are an intensely social species by definition.

    I’ve long thought it would be a good line of biker gear: “Born to Die”.

    Life, again by definition, is fatal. To be born is to die, at some point later. The only questions are how and when. But of course the real question is why – what did you live for? Was it love? Was it fear? Was it sincere?

    Now we can share these feelings with the world, and in turn learn from the world. It’s beautiful. Despite the trolls. Maybe even a little because.

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Raven: What is the significance of the date?

  22. 22
    Alison says:

    I am definitely in agreement with the internet being good for making connections (har). My absolute best friend is someone I met online and have only known online – we’ve thus far not had a chance to meet in person, and only know each other via email/IMs/phone/etc. But he is the dearest and most wonderful friend who has been there for me through a lot of hell lately, and my life is far better for having him in it…even though he’s only “in it” in the ether. Doesn’t matter.

    Plus for those of us who have hermit tendencies and/or physical limitations (and I have both, whee), it’s a fucking savior.

  23. 23
    Raven says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Pueblo, 45 years today. Doesn’t mean much to most folks.

  24. 24
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    Thanks for posting that Sarah. It’s beautiful.

    Condolences and peace to Gex. Hang in there.


  25. 25
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Raven: Oh, shit. I was trying to figure out the significance of the date of the letter. Beating my head against the wall, I was.

  26. 26
    Raven says:

    I’ve had a complete fracture with my half brother over politics on Facebook. My brother’s wife posted a snotty remark that really hurt our stepmother this weekend. The world wide internet can be lots of things.

  27. 27
    Raven says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: My bad, you know how I go off on my own.

  28. 28
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Schlemizel: I have trouble with offering sympathy, too, but for very different reasons. Thanks to my autism, expressions of sympathy don’t have the same effect on me as they do on the rest of you. There are times when someone is trying to be sympathetic and I just find them annoying.

    It wasn’t until after my diagnosis and my thinking about what it meant that I realized that most people derive comfort from someone else offering them sympathy. In most cases, I don’t. I just don’t have that kind of a connection with the people around me.

    So I spent the first 42 years of my life thinking that the primary purpose of sympathy was to make the person expressing it feel better about themselves. It just never occurred to me that it actually works for the rest of you. As a consequence, I have a hard time expressing sympathy or condolences for people. On an intellectual level I now understand that it really does have value but it’s hard to overcome a lifetime’s worth of prejudice that it’s just a bit of self-aggrandizing showboating.

    The ways that autism (or, from my perspective, the lack thereof) creates completely different ways of thinking about social relationships is fascinating. However, it also leaves me stranded on an island when I’m really distressed because no one can really create that bridge to help me in the ways that they are used to.

  29. 29
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Raven: To be fair, I only remember it because you mentioned it this morning. See, internet….

  30. 30
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Raven: I wondered if you meant Pueblo, in part because you mentioned it earlier. My father always kept me mindful of those kinds of dates (as one who was at Pearl harbor December 7 might be prone to do). Thanks for the reminder of my beloved old da.

    I’m heartened to hear that Gex found some comfort in our condolences. You’re still in my thoughts – it takes longer than you expect to sort through the feelings, especially once you’re not distracted by the administrative details, which require attention.

    Sarah, are you trying to make me drink midweek? Jesus but that was heartwrenching in its power and beauty. As Omnes no doubt knows, I am much too cool to get teary, but I may have to consult Dr. Macallan.

  31. 31
    third of two says:

    People love to latch on to how technology can distance us from others. It’s true, it can. But it has such a great capacity for connecting us.

    Technology has a great capacity to distance us from each other. Which is true. But people love to latch on to how it connects us.

    I’m sure that won’t win me any points.

    Do I care about the travails of Gex? Inasmuch it is within my capacity to abstractedly care for people outside my direct perceptual sphere, yes. Will I actively do anything to help her? No. Although I have truckloads of empathy, I refuse to share in some shallow online grief-party, simply because Gex and her partner are “out of scope” regarding any meaningful emotional frame of reference relevant to me.

    Additionally, I find citing a 450 year old funereal love letter in this particular context nothing short of emotional manipulation. Written proof that lovers agonize over the death of a loved one!

    Because up til now (or even before writing was invented 5,000 years ago – prehistory!), nobody had any idea people from the past were just like us…

    Millions of people lose their partner every day. My partner will miss me when I’m gone. But I hope she won’t broadcast the fact of my death to win sympathy points from people who never knew me. I certainly wouldn’t do that if she died…out of respect for her, and for me, and because I find the expression of this sort of sentiment, when broadcast to everyone via the internets, while not demeaning, shallow. Lacking substantive meaning.

    I can will do only what I can; constrained by the genetics of my evolutionarily-designed behavioral mechanisms operating within some vaguely-defined cultural limits, even possessing what might be called “free will,” refuse to help Gex.

    Or maybe I’m just a cold asshole.

  32. 32
    Alison says:

    @third of two:

    Or maybe I’m just a cold asshole.


    Jeez, you know. This is a very good case of “If you can’t say something nice…”. And I mean YOU, not me. What was the point of this? Honestly.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @third of two: Different strokes for different folks. If people chose to see themselves as a community and then behave in a way that validates that perception, what problem is it of yours? Some people, when they are ill, like to off one their own while others want to be nursed by other. Who is right?

  34. 34
    Yutsano says:

    @Alison: There’s always one…

  35. 35
    eemom says:

    Mrs. Sarah, you never stop rawking even when you forget to be a violently gloriously senile 93 year old with a checkered past.

    Also, um, too, “third of two” has got to be a spoof.

  36. 36

    @third of two:

    Or maybe I’m just a cold asshole.

    Yeah. Go with that.

    ETA: Gex didn’t broadcast Kate’s death – she came on the internet when she was feeling sad in order to talk to her online friends in this little community. Since then, her online friends have been worried about her welfare because they are her friends.

    I’m not trying to manipulate anyone, or trying to prove some radical idea that people in the olden days were the same as us. I was just sharing something with my friends that I thought was lovely.

    Oh, and blow it out your arse.

  37. 37
    PsiFighter37 says:

    It sounds like Harry Reid is about to cave on filibuster reform. I want to blame him, mainly because he talked such a big game and came up small (again) – but I think the blame really lies with old-school Democrats like Levin and Feinstein. I feel like if Reid did have 51 votes, he definitely would go with the constitutional option. Fuck the old-timers who have been around a long time and feel some weird sense to Senate ‘tradition’, even if filibustering is as much a ‘tradition’ as decorating a Christmas tree with crucifix ornaments.

  38. 38
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @third of two:

    Or maybe Oh, wait – I’m just a cold asshole.


  39. 39
    goblue72 says:

    @Alison: The point? Self-indulgent contrarian look-at-me masturbation, obviously.

  40. 40
    Rhubarb says:

    Although I mostly read and don’t often comment, I really do feel very strongly connected to this community, whose values I so much share. I’ve been thinking of Gex so much lately, not least because we’ve had something a bit like in our family just now.

    My brother and only sibling just lost his only son (age 35) to kidney cancer. We are all, particularly my son (only child also, age 38), pretty distraught. It seems especially hard that Colin, who was a good, brave person who’d had many uphill roads to climb, should have died the night before the inauguration of PBO, for whom he had worked so hard.

    Anyway, though I’ve never seen a one of you, you’re all very important to me. So I just wanted to say thanks also.
    And has anyone heard from/about OnlyMike lately?

  41. 41
    goblue72 says:

    @third of two: FIXED:

    Or maybe I’m just a cold asshole.

  42. 42
    Yutsano says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    Oh, and blow it out your arse.

    I less than three you. But you already knew that.

  43. 43
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @third of two:

    Or maybe I’m just a cold asshole.

    Remove “Or maybe” from that line and I think you’ve nailed it. I bet you love to go to parties that you weren’t invited to and shit the in punch bowl too.


    Anyone who thought that Reid would do anything to change the Senate needs to get their medications checked. Reid change the status quo? Now that’s a joke!

    Reid is the status quo.

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:

    @third of two:

    Timmy? Is that you?

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:


    It’s kind of odd how proud people are of being sociopaths.

  46. 46
    Cassidy says:

    Ten percent rule is in effect.

  47. 47
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @third of two: Yeah. You know, if I’d known you were going to post, I’d have timed my previous comment differently.

  48. 48
    Svensker says:

    When I first started hanging out at BJ I mentioned a friend who was battling cancer and suffering horribly financially because of it. John Cole, curmudgeonly sweetpea that he is, published my post about my friend and started a fundraiser for her. The group here came up with a buncha bucks — which blew me away, blew my friend away, blew her family away. Not any of us had ever met each other — my friend and I were internet friends — none of us had clapped eyes on anyone else, yet here was a group of folks from around the globe chipping in to help someone they didn’t know. John’s gesture and the help of all those people I’d never met and never would meet, touched me deeply…and helped make my friend’s last few months easier and more worth living.

    Community is community, wherever you find it. It’s a good thing.

  49. 49
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Raven: I remember it very well.

  50. 50
    dance around in your bones says:

    @third of two:

    I wanted to say that I hope you get the chance to lose your partner and find only “shallowness” in this online community, but I’m not that cruel.

    I hope you will find comfort in whichever community you prefer to hang out with.

    Jeez Louise.

  51. 51
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    One of my best friends in the world is a Brit I met online through an almost unbelievable string of coincidences and near-misses. We’ve been likethis since early 1998, have met IRL only twice, but probably know each other better than our own blood siblings do.

  52. 52
    Alison says:

    @dance around in your bones: Speaking of community and the realness of Internet connections, someone here was wondering about you in a thread yesterday or so? Said they hadn’t seen you commenting in a while and were concerned/curious. I…can’t remember who so I guess I;m no help, but still! We’re a real community here :)

  53. 53
    ruemara says:

    I have family that don’t even know what I like to eat or wear, what my favourite colour is or what I like to listen to. I have friends from a few online communities that know me through and through, contact me more, make me feel like carrying on another day and help me out more than any of my blood family have in my life. Family, community, friends-they are all where they are found and just because it is on the internet, does not make it any less a gathering of plain old good people. I have ‘family’ that I haven’t met but mean more to me than blood relations.

  54. 54
    Alison says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Right? I’ve often said that in a way, online friendships can be even deeper because when all you do is IM/email, you’re doing nothing but *talking* and you have to always think of new stuff to discuss and such. In person, you go to the movies, to shows, games, hang out with others, etc, and all that is great, and of course there’s also real connection…but when the talking is all there is, it can be really meaningful.

  55. 55
    Fellatio Alger says:

    I am a lurker who visits BJ practically daily, and I’ve gotten to know the regulars here on whatever level it’s possible to know them in this format. But I felt a punch to the gut when I read that Kate passed – I thought: “How can this be? Didn’t she just show some improvement last week?” And this for someone I had never met and never would. Say what you want about connections, but they form where they will. And we should honor them.

    As for the “cold asshole,” it’s clear to me that some people seek out situations where they think people are most vulnerable (in this case, emotionally) in order to exploit them. Why? I don’t know. It’s like the Westboro Baptist “Church,” phenomenon. Show up at soldier’s funerals, or Newton kids’ funerals or fill in the blank. It’s impossible for me to understand what they gain from this grotesquery (if that’s a word). So, no response needed for what’s its name — who comes into a post meant to honor a human connection, affirm our humanity, comfort a friend — looking to piss on someone’s grave for the cheap thrill of it. It’s meant to be sickening. And it is. I acknowledge that and move on.

    RIP, Kate. We are with you, Gex.

  56. 56
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @third of two:

    One of the best things about online intertoobz technology is that it allows me to tell perfect strangers like you to go fuck themselves.

  57. 57
    Yutsano says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Je t’adore.

  58. 58
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    How awful. I’m very, very sorry. I think you know from this and other threads that we’re here as a virtual shoulder for you. In the meantime, here is a virtual but sincere {hug} for you and your son and brother.

  59. 59
    dance around in your bones says:


    Alison, I just replied today to SuibhannDuinne and Maude and sharl and Steeplejack here after reading an older thread – I was surprised to see people thinking/wondering about me and it gave me a warm feeling as well – this truly IS a community, and I don’t give much credence to the naysayers.

    This is just my favorite place to hang out on the intertubes, and it’s to John’s credit that he has created this place and to the commenters who care so much for people they have never met. It’s a GOOD thing!

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    I know that “lack of empathy” is a common descriptor for people on the autism spectrum, but it’s never seemed to be an accurate one, as you probably noticed from reading a comment that contained a genuine lack of empathy.

    AFAICT, the problem that people on the autism spectrum have with “empathy” is better described as a problem with symbolism and social constructs. There are certain words and phrases that we as a society have decided are comforting and most people will react to them that way, but it seems as though people on the autism spectrum want to examine the phrases literally rather than accepting them as the symbols that they are. It’s not that you don’t understand that Gex feels sad that Kate is gone (which would be a genuine lack of empathy) — it’s that you have a hard time understanding what words or actions might be comforting to her.

    For the most famous example, Temple Grandin clearly doesn’t lack empathy, or she wouldn’t be able to do the work with animals that she does. What she lacks is an ability to successfully interpret social cues and social communication among humans.

  61. 61
  62. 62
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Merci bien, mon cher Yuts. Je t’adore aussi. Bisous!

  63. 63
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Alison: That was me :-)
    Dance Around, I’m so glad to see you posting. I’ve missed you!

  64. 64
    gex says:

    @Alison: The other side of technology. It was important for this person to tell me that they don’t give a shit. Nice.

    This “shallow online grief party” was essential for me when I had things I desperately needed to express but would never say to the people who knew Kate who knew her differently than I would.

    But then, I am the sort of person who cares about how Kate’s friends feel, which is why I needed this and why it helped.

    If you are the sort that doesn’t give two shits about other human beings’ feelings, I can see how you would find this meaningless and find it important to shit all over this thread and what I’m going through.

    If only people who “didn’t care” could care a little less so that making shitty posts didn’t even occur to them.

    ETA: And if it helps said troll at all, your gut punch landed.

  65. 65

    @Fellatio Alger:

    Fellatio Alger

    Best name ever.

  66. 66
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gex: Hey, kid, as one of your fellow Minnesotans would say, “Fuck ’em with a rusty pitchfork.”

  67. 67
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Alison: Yes it was SiubhanDuinne who first asked – and for me, it WAS a very good thing. I have been a little forlorn lately.

    @SiubhanDuinne: I really got a little jolt of “Oh wow, somebody’s wondering about ME?” when I read your comment in that old thread. Thanks! I’ll try to spill my comments (such as they are) more frequently….

  68. 68
  69. 69


    ‘ello, darlin’

    How are you?

  70. 70
    gex says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Oh yeah, I dealt with it. It was just the initial emotional reaction to reading it. Unavoidable.

    I have no time for people who prefer to make the world an uglier place, so I moved on.

  71. 71
    Fellatio Alger says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: Hey, there’s more than one way to get to the top ;)

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:


    I didn’t get a chance to post in the other thread, but I wanted to add to the chorus of people telling you that it’s completely normal to be sad and angry about the unfinished business between you and Kate. My parents were married for 35 years and my mom is finding that a lot of suppressed feelings are bubbling to the surface because she needed to tamp them down while she was caring for my dad.

  73. 73
    Yutsano says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: On the bad side of exhaustion. I’m working on a semi-promotion at work that if all goes well opens HUGE doors for me and my career. But I have to survive tomorrow. Tomorrow is the sink or swim test. So far I’ve been swimming but this last one is threatening to kick my ass. Plus I had to my work schedule for two and a half weeks so my sleep schedule is beyond shot.

    That all seems like a First World problem next to gex however.

    @gex: Like I said, there’s always one. Vegetable peeler and lemon juice to sensitive areas works wonders I hear for that.

  74. 74
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @dance around in your bones: It’s good to see you. I’d been wondering as well, but I haven’t been around much so didn’t know if I’d just not seen your posts. My actual *job* gets in the way sometimes.

    Thank you Sarah for this post, even if it did lead to a visit with Dr. Macallan. Because I am much too cool to get teary.

    @Rhubarb: I’m thinking of you and your family. There are no good words of condolence, but we are a community here, so most of us try.

  75. 75

    There is no limit to what I want to say and I stop here.

    I got nothing but tears.

    Live in peace, gex.

  76. 76
    gex says:

    @dance around in your bones: That’s the thing. We all like to be cared about. In any way shape or fashion.

    The fact that people wondered about us was helpful. The fact that people took the time to ask in thread after thread if they’d heard updates when I was too busy to check back in was touching. The fact that people bother to say something kind when they don’t have to at all. Those things aren’t insignificant.

    It also means that taking the time to say something shitty means something too. But that isn’t my problem. You guys helped me and, despite troll’s point, the kind of help you gave me seems to be something that the Internet makes possible that other communication technologies did not. I needed to say things to strangers.

    Anyhow, the show last night was amazing. Truly amazing. The club was sold out, the fullest it had ever been. The show ran an hour longer than usual and it was the greatest atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. A lot of love, a lot of laughter. I think it was a once in a lifetime experience. It was just… words are too small for it.

  77. 77
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    Oh, Sarah, P&T, thanks. I’m thinking I should tell y’all about the time we had a nitrous oxide party in Friesland with a five foot tall tank that had to be kept in a bucket of ice for some reason. Lots of laughter! Plus, in the Nederlands they had full-frontal NUDITY on the TV machine! That always killed me.

    I wondered what was hitting my nose until I realized it was the floor.

    Oh well, it was the 70’s.

  78. 78
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @dance around in your bones:

    I hadn’t read the earlier thread, so your

    Of course, at the end of an almost 200 comment thread I bet no one will see this, Ha!

    instincts were right.

  79. 79
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:


    Losing a child is brutal for parents and the rest of the extended family, it’s not the ‘normal’ order of things in life. Losing an only child has to be especially brutal to endure. We believe that kids are not supposed to pass on before their parents, but too often they do. To everyone out there: Hug your kids and tell them that you love them every chance you get because today it just might be your last chance to do so.

    My condolences and best wishes to your brother, you and your families.

  80. 80
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Kate was one lucky woman to have you.

  81. 81
    gex says:

    @Rhubarb: I’m so sorry to hear that. It was clear to me that Kate’s oncologist had a hard time with this result for someone so young with something he expected to beat. When that young person is your child? I can’t imagine.

    My best to you and your family in this difficult time. I wish everyone could get the send off Kate did.

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:


    The club was sold out, the fullest it had ever been. The show ran an hour longer than usual and it was the greatest atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. A lot of love, a lot of laughter. I think it was a once in a lifetime experience. It was just… words are too small for it.

    You know how you were saying a few days ago that you felt like Kate had been giving all of her love and energy to everyone else but not giving it to you?

    Last night was you getting it all back from her, tenfold.

  83. 83
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Mnemosyne: I can’t speak for anyone else, but I do lack empathy. It’s just that you need to understand a very specific, technical definition of “empathy” to understand what I mean. It isn’t that I don’t care what other people are feeling.

    What it means is something that will be very familiar to anyone who has read Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. What I lack is that connection to how other people are feeling. Neurotypical people generally start to feel themselves emotions that those around them are experiencing.

    The standard example is that when someone goes to a funeral of someone they didn’t know and had no feelings for one way or the other, the fact that everyone around them is grieving induces in them the emotion of sadness. Emotions are contagious.

    For me they aren’t. Just because everyone around me is experiencing an emotion doesn’t mean that I’m going to feel it. I either will or I won’t, but I’ll do so for my own internal reasons.

    It wasn’t until someone described empathy in that technical sense that I became convinced that I am autistic. It made me think back to my grandmother’s funeral many years before. Keep in mind that this was a woman that I both liked and loved. Yet, at the funeral, I wasn’t sad. She was 87 when she died and all I could think was that she’d lived a very full life and had died on her own terms. Someone commented when it was over that I must be very strong since I was the only one that wasn’t crying. It never seemed to me that strength had anything to do with it; I just wasn’t sad. I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago why that was.

    That’s where expressions of sympathy fail to comfort me. Those emotional connections go both ways. For someone who is neurotypical, someone expressing sympathy actually takes on some of the emotion that you’re feeling and really does make you feel better. But just as I don’t catch emotions from other people, I can’t give them away, either. Sympathy doesn’t provide the outlet for me that it does for most people.

  84. 84
    gex says:

    @Mnemosyne: I get that. I would have rather had her, though.

  85. 85
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    @third of two: this is my response to you.

  86. 86


    Hello my dear. I hope you are as well as can be.

  87. 87
    dance around in your bones says:


    Gex, I have followed your journey with Kate and her death with great emotion and sympathy, even though I know you not at all. I lost my life partner last year, two weeks after he was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, and what we went through in those couple of weeks I would not wish on anybody.

    I found great support and empathy and sympathy here, on this site, from people I don’t even know. I value it greatly.

    That bitter person who commented to you w/o personal experience of that kind of pain and the relief we can find in the kindness of strangers is just ignorant.

    I hope you are doing – I don’t want to say good – just OK, at least.

  88. 88
    eemom says:


    And has anyone heard from/about OnlyMike lately?

    I think that Rome Again got in touch with him and was able to help him. It’s nice of you to ask.

    Hope you will de-lurk more in future.

  89. 89
    Alison says:

    @gex: So many hugs to you, and ALL THE FUCK YOUS to that jerk. You needed support and we were happy to give it in the ways we could. If someone doesn’t get that or thinks it’s meaningless or whatever, well, that’s a sad life, IMO. And their callous opinions don’t matter a whit.

  90. 90

    @dance around in your bones:


    The other day was reminiscing about a dance party, at which I entirely forgot to dance and instead spent the entire night sitting in an old army jeep parked outside the hall, off my dial on e, and having my hands massaged by a succession of humpy, shirtless boys.

  91. 91
    Mnemosyne says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    What I lack is that connection to how other people are feeling. Neurotypical people generally start to feel themselves emotions that those around them are experiencing.

    That’s what I mean when I say it’s the social connection you’re missing, not the emotional connection. It’s not that you don’t understand that other people feel emotion, it’s that you don’t understand the social cues of how you’re “supposed” to react that other people are giving you.

    Wikipedia calls it “atypical empathic response” but, like I said, I think we’re talking about the same thing using different language from opposite sides of the divide.

  92. 92


    Crikey. Best of luck, my dear. I have every confidence in you.

    I’m gearing up for the Australia day weekend by baking caraway seed cake and making jam. It is quite warm here.

  93. 93
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    This is a really great place to hang out. I like littlrbritdifferents analogy of a pub, seems about right.
    Some people should be neither seen nor read ;)
    ((Gex)), take care!

  94. 94


    A lot of love, a lot of laughter. I think it was a once in a lifetime experience. It was just… words are too small for it.

    This makes me very happy. There is nothing quite like a good wake.

  95. 95
    Mnemosyne says:


    Am I allowed to say, “Well, duh!” in response to that? ;-)

    But I really do know what you mean. Right after my dad died, my mom was saying that she wanted him back, and my response was, “But you don’t want him back like he was right at the end. You want him back and healthy again.” Because that’s how we all felt.

    ETA: This is all with the caveat that losing a parent in their mid-70s who’s been slowly going downhill for at least 5 years is not the same as losing your partner in the prime of life, so the grief I’m going through is similar to but, frankly, not nearly as bad as what you’re having to deal with.

  96. 96
    Yutsano says:


    I like littlrbritdifferents analogy of a pub, seems about right.

    The food is terrible though. And such small portions! :)

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: I’ve been watching central European cooking videos and craving caraway. I might have to relent since I do have to go to the store tomorrow plus I have a new Dutch oven to play with. Culinary adventure here I come!

  97. 97
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    Well heck, that reminds me of the time I dropped acid during lunch at school, and when I returned to class was administered a test – which I stared at for an hour and turned in completely blank.

    No humpy shirtless boys were involved however….as far as I can recall.

  98. 98
    Rhubarb says:

    Thanks so much to everyone who has said such kind things, and particularly to you, Gex, who have your own sorrow.

    Colin lived far away (Seattle–Dallas) and willed his body to a medical school up there, so there will be two memorial services. I’m sure both will be full, as he always kept up with everybody. We used to joke when the boys were little that he was born to be a cruise director.

    Thanks again.

  99. 99


    Hello there. I’m rather fond of you too.

  100. 100
    Yutsano says:

    @Rhubarb: If you have the chance to make it to the Seattle one and have the wherewithal to deal with a few of us crazies we could consider a wake/get together if you wanted. We Seattle Bjers don’t need much excuse to gather these days!

  101. 101


    I used Hugh FFFernley-Whiffinstable’s recipe and it worked a treat, although I also added some candied peach and iced it with sour cream and orange icing.

  102. 102
    scav says:

    @Mnemosyne: It’s also just exhausting trying to figure out how you’re “supposed” to react to the stylized social acts that surround grief if that’s not your natural thing (rather like speaking a foreign language). Social interaction can just be draining for some while it gives others a burst of energy and comfort.

  103. 103
    MikeJ says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    I’m gearing up for the Australia day weekend by baking caraway seed cake and making jam.

    Make sure you get out to the store and stock up.

  104. 104


    Dutch oven

    Hee. I’m six years old apparently.

  105. 105
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @MikeJ: God I love Australians. Mad people.

  106. 106
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @MikeJ: How are things in your world? People have been wondering.

  107. 107
    MikeJ says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): In my world? about 60% hunky, 40% dory.

    I think they were asking about another Mike. I’ve been around. But thanks for asking. :)

  108. 108
    Mnemosyne says:


    Luckily, I come from a part-Irish family, where laughter at wakes and funerals is par for the course (even before the drinking starts), so the family, at least, usually understands each other fairly well. We probably horrify outsiders sometimes, though, with the way we veer between tears of grief and tears of laughter.

    G comes from an even more Irish family, but it’s hard for me to get the hilarious story of his uncle screwing up the final prayer at G’s father’s wake across in print. I think even the funeral home people — who’ve probably seen just about everything — thought we were all insane.

  109. 109
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @MikeJ: As I was asking, that occurred to me. Hope you can get the ratio to 80/20, LOL. It was Only Mike, I suspect, now that I think of it.

  110. 110

    @third of two:

    I’m not prepared to argue about my motives in doing something nice, so I suggest you speak about something else. I’m happy to chat to you about other stuff.

  111. 111
  112. 112
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: you deleted my comment but left its ones up? Okay, whatever.

  113. 113
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Mnemosyne: I remember going to my grandfather’s funeral, and a bunch of us siblings were in a limo going to the graveyard and laughing our asses off. Partly because my grandma (at the funeral service) kept saying “Grampa is going to be here any moment” and we were all going “yep, but not in the way you think he is!”. (She was in the Alzheimer’s zone at the time).

    It was funny as hell just then. There was also a lot of talk about how we die and return back into the primordial soup to be recycled….I remember thinking the limo driver prolly thought we were nuts.

    It’s a way of coping, I guess.

  114. 114
    goblue72 says:

    @third of two: You’re a hole digger’ ain’t ya? You just like grabbing a shovel and dig, dig, dig. Don’t matter no how to you how deep the hole you are standing in is, you just keep on diggin’.

    Dig little troll, dig. And don’t stop till ya hit China.

  115. 115
    Yutsano says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: No más comidas. I behave now.

  116. 116

    @The prophet Nostradumbass:

    Sorry. I’m a little slow on the ipad.

  117. 117
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: I see they’re gone now too, sorry for jumping he gun

  118. 118

    Every day I grow fonder of the idea of the kitten setting.

  119. 119
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: heh, I saw that earlier. I use the pie filter on the Mac, but it doesn’t work on the iPad.

  120. 120
    Mnemosyne says:

    @dance around in your bones:

    Oh, we’re worse than that — we laugh during the actual funeral service, like when my aunt told the funny story at my grandmother’s funeral about how, as the two of them were flying away from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Ireland, my grandmother sighed happily and said she wouldn’t mind if the plane crashed right now. And my aunt responded, “Speak for yourself, old woman!”

  121. 121
    handsmile says:


    I was traveling and mostly off-line this past weekend at the time of your partner Kate’s passing. Reading through a number of recent threads earlier today, I learned of this sadness, but felt awkward posting condolences on threads now inactive.

    If my expression of sympathy and sorrow here is belated, please know it is no less sincerely heartfelt. I am happy to learn that last night’s comic tribute to Kate was so enthusiastically attended and so meaningful to you. I am happier still to know that there are several communities able to comfort and console you, online and off.

  122. 122
    dance around in your bones says:


    Believe me, I was stifling myself when Gramma was going on about Grampa showing up any minute during the funeral service. It was hard to keep a straight face.

    Life, death, love and laughter. I hope people tell funny stories about me when I croak.

  123. 123
    MikeJ says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    Every day I grow fonder of the idea of the kitten setting.

    Around here how do you tell who has been kittened and who is just talking about kittens, as we often do? Somebody, somewhere is oging to read that post, come here, and assume that 90% of the users are assholes to the point of being kittened.

    I’ll gladly whip up the FYWP plugin to automate kittening when I can get around to it.

  124. 124


    I foresee threads written entirely in lolcat.

  125. 125
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: Oh Em Gee. I haz nu fantazy.

  126. 126
    Yutsano says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Ceiling Cat sez: mak it sooo…

  127. 127
    Suzanne says:

    @dance around in your bones:

    This is just my favorite place to hang out on the intertubes, and it’s to John’s credit that he has created this place and to the commenters who care so much for people they have never met. It’s a GOOD thing!

    Word. I came for Cole. I stay for y’all. (Mr. Suzanne, who I met online and who told me about this blog when we first met in person for ice cream, has been a lurker for years, too.)

    Love and hugs to Gex.

  128. 128
    hamletta says:

    I’m mostly a lurker, but I want to send love to you, Gex, on your loss. It sounds like your dear Kate got a mighty fine send-off.

    Rhubarb, I am so sorry for your loss. You’re not s’posed to bury your children.

    J Michael, neurotypical people behave quite horribly in the wake of another’s loss, so don’t feel/not feel bad. There’s a couple at my church who lost the wife’s 26-year-old son in a car wreck right as they were joining the parish.

    I asked the husband a few weeks back how his wife was doing, and he said she was really pissed off at God, and that people need to quit saying stupid shit like, “He’s in a better place.”


  129. 129
    Rhubarb says:

    Thanks, Yutsano,though I doubt I’ll be making it up there. Wish I could, but our Aged P is not in shape to do it. And there are many House Kitties (plus one Hose Doggie) and lots of Porch Kitties to take care of.

  130. 130
    dance around in your bones says:


    See now, you are one of my favorite commenters (you make me laugh a lot). Mr. Suzanne is one lucky dude and you are lucky he told you about this place (I, poor soul, found this place through Sully – grateful to him for that, anyway).

    It’s so interesting how you feel like you get to know people by reading their comments. This is a great community. And I don’t want to hear no bullshit from Twit and Horribleen about that.

  131. 131
    Interrobang says:

    Gex, I’m very sorry for your loss. Your comments in earlier threads were just harrowing. I hope you find some way of coming to equilibrium of a sort.

    And now for my funny funeral story. My maternal grandfather died at home (as he wanted), on the Sunday of a long weekend. My mother called the funeral home and told them he had passed on and to come pick him up. The guy on the other end of the phone said, “Of course, but there might be a bit of a delay, since it’s the Sunday of a holiday weekend, and we’re running on a skeleton crew.”

    My mother was actually quite amused by that, but said, “You might want to think about what you just said, just in case you say it to someone else who’ll be offended.” Apparently the panicked apologies on the other end of the phone were funnier than the original line…

  132. 132
    Closeted epistemic (formerly Lojasmo) says:

    @third of two:

    My partner will miss me when I’m gone.

    Doubtful. There are plenty of other assholes around.

    Drink bleach.

  133. 133

    At a very difficult point in life and death the “online community” gave to my family a measure of solace. I hope the good that has been expressed to you helps and I’d like to add my condolences. I am glad Kate got a good send off, and I hope you take some measure of relief from the expressions of those who cannot quite share your grief, but who care.

  134. 134
    Ruckus says:

    When my sister passed she wanted a Quaker circle at the university she taught at. It was held in an art gallery with only her stuff on the walls. There were about 100-125 people there, most of whom I had never met and probably never will again. Having that many people whose lives she touched amazed me. It didn’t really make it easier to stand up and talk about her but it made my perspective of her life a little wider, and that was a good thing. It has been my fortune to be around people who celebrated the life of the person rather than the loss to us. It helps to know that many of us can make a small but positive dent in the world.

  135. 135
    Ruckus says:

    @dance around in your bones:
    I like that people tell funny stories about me now.

    And about people who we haven’t seen around in a while. Has anyone heard from DennisSGMM? He was talking about moving and then poof.

Comments are closed.