Tuesday, May 01, 2007

 

In Which We Put Our Affairs In Order...



I arrived in New Hampshire three days ago, but it feels like it's been one long day. I'm too tired to sleep, and there's too much to do anyway. My parents put quite a lot of their affairs in order in the past two years, and for that I've been increasingly grateful. Even so, it's been a hard slog, calling assorted insurance companies; dealing with people who manage investments and annuities; and feeling so acutely the presence of my parents' absence. Being here in their house and knowing that they are not and never will be again is almost more than I can bear.

Hardest of all was meeting the funeral director from Chadwick's Funeral Home, who came to the house on Sunday and who patiently sat with my brother and me and walked us through the macabre business of choosing coffins and deciding on assorted methods to dispose of Mom and Dad's earthly remains. Speaking of which, they arrived by freight today. This evening my brother and I will go over and see with our own eyes what has become of our parents.

Their obituaries ran in a few newspapers today, although as many of you discovered, news of their deaths has been all over the Web since the day of the accident. I spent a little time reading those stories and looking at the pictures. It's a hard thing to read about one of the cars in the accident being unrecognizable, but recognizing anyway that it was your parents' Jeep, and that they were sitting in it when it was rendered unrecognizable. It's hard to look at the aerial pictures and to see a red square on the highway and to realize immediately that it was your mother's suitcase. She was planning to spend the summer with us, caring for The Eclair. Now that bag and her clothes and all the gifts she brought for her new granddaughter, as well as for the Brownie (who turned 6 yesterday. I was here in NH already, missing her birthday for the first time in her life), all of it is sitting in storage unit in a salvage yard in Elkhart, Indiana, waiting for me and my brother to decide what to do with it.

But we have too many other things to decide first, although most of the pressing details have been settled. The viewing will be this Thursday, starting at 4. Then, Friday morning, my parents will be cremated, according to their wishes. On Friday afternoon at 2, the bulk of their remains will be buried in the town cemetery, on a slope with a view of Aaron's Ledge, one of our favorite hiking spots when I was growing up. Their grave will be just a few dozen yards from the graves of my Dad's people, my grandparents and great-grandparents. Afterwards, everyone will go down the hill to the town meetinghouse and there we'll gather and share stories about my parents. Virtually everyone in town has wanted to come by and bring with them some casserole or a salad or a plate of cookies for my brother and me, but it's just too much food. Instead, we asked a neighbor to coordinate this outpouring of sustenance and channel it into the gathering on Friday. A potluck wake, if you will.

I haven’t had much time to spend online–except to read up on the accident and to retrieve the accident report from the state Web site--but I've certainly seen and read enough to be touched and comforted by your incredible show of support. Thank you.

Because I was less than circumspect about the details of the accident, several of you easily found the news story--which included the names of those killed--and posted links to it in your own blogs. The upshot, quite aside from having blown my anonymity to smithereens--something I honestly couldn't care less about at this point--is that quite a few of you have emailed either asking or simply stating your intent to attend the funeral. I find this thought both touching and ever-so-slightly alarming.

It's a public event, of course, so you can do what you want. But I think you need to bear in mind that if you come to pay your respects, if you come over to say hello, I will be glad to see you and grateful you've come, but I will be nothing like myself, and certainly nothing like the blogger you’ve come to know here at the Masthead. This is not exactly how I imagined I would meet any of my online friends.

You also need to be aware that other characters who populate this blog will be in attendance and are not, in fact, characters at all, but real people who are grieving for the loss of my parents and who may or may not want anything to do with you.

In particular, I'm talking about my Big Brother, who is beyond distraught right now. But even if he wasn't, you need to know that he and I had a bit of a falling out about the blog a while back. I don't have time to tell you the details, but the upshot is that he doesn't come here and make comments anymore (as surely you must have noticed), and he would just as soon pretend that I don't write a blog at all. If you must greet him, fine, but just tell him you're a friend of mine.

And you are, of course, which is why I would never tell you not to come. I just want you to understand the reality you will face.

And with that said, I must leave you.

See you at the funeral.

Yours,
From Somewhere on the Masthead



And One More Thing: Some of you have already found the link to the Funeral Home and found my parents' obits and made use of the online guest book there, which was wonderful to see. If you love me at all, though, do me a favor and follow the example of those who have already put a message in the guest book: Please do NOT mention the blog. The guestbook is easily viewable by relatives and coworkers, many of whom have NO idea that yours truly has a secret life as the Magazine Man. Referring to my stories is fine, but no need to tell where you read them. Am I being too paranoid? No doubt. But in a time where I have had no control over the events that are shaping my life daily, please grant me this one measure of control and security. Thanks.


Comments:
Hang in there.
 
take care of yourself & your family, mm. be easy with yourself. thinking of you & praying for you.
 
just want to reiterate my condolences. thank you for the update. our thoughts are with you, wishing there was some way to send you strength.
 
MM - I wish I could be there to show my support (even though we don't *know* each other), but I'll have to settle for sending lots of prayers across the ocean. This terrible event has touched so many people - please know that we are all here for you.

I feel like the bloggers who will attend the service are representing the people all over the world who were touched by your stories and your family.

take care of yourself
 
MM, I have found that guest book, but will do all my postings here. Read them when you want. Don't until you're ready.

We love you tons, and will do whatever you ask. You have had little control over events lately, and I want to help you regain some of it again. It's not too much to ask.

Our hearts are with you. Hope they help you and bring to you a little strength.
 
MM,

I wish I could pay my respects in person but time and distance don't allow. Please accept my condolences and my sorrow for you. If I can be of any help whatsoever, don't hesitate to call on me.

I can't be the only person who feels that way. You've had too much of an impact on all of us here for us not to want to be there for you.

Like Naiah said, hang in there. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with you.
 
I don't think I've ever commented before. In the end, I've never had anything to add. I have been, and I still am, grateful to have the opportunity to be a spectator to such an interesting point of view as yours.

You've given us a gift of 'self' that can't be repaid. That gift somehow put you parents, if not in our hearts, then in our souls. This, mostly one-sided, connection has left me somewhat bewildered and angry. Bewildered at the sense of loss. I haven't felt this about the deaths of any strangers since 9/11. I feel for all of the victims' families, but you... You're you and that makes this different.

You have blown you anonymity to hell and back. I for one wasn't thinking about that at first. But the story was national news and I've been curious about the 'who' for so long that I couldn't help but connect the dots. Having done so, I felt dirty. I didn't feel wrong, because I didn't set out to unmask you, but I know this shouldn't have happened this way.

The thing is, I don't know [insert MM's ID]. It's going to be a long while before I could possibly integrate that information in the storyteller I know and respect.

Magazine Man is the parts of you that you choose to share, and I think, in spite of the fact you've already shared, this part is not really for us. I think it says a lot about the kind of man you are to accept the door was left open and to allow us in (with useful advice).

I won't confuse my paltry sense of loss with what you must feel, and I won't use what I now know. Period. Anything I could offer beyond my sympathies would be more than you need to deal with.
 
MM,

Again, my deepest condolences. Having done the memorial service for my mother last Thursday, I can relate to some (but not nearly all) of what you're going thru. Good luck with everything, and the thoughts and prayers of a large chunk of the blogosphere are heading your way.

-Hoff
 
MM,

I wish I could be there, just to say what I seem to write. Even if I didn't have life keeping me hella busy these days, I wouldn't feel right about attending the service though. Not because I'd feel awkward, but simply because I wouldn't want to intrude on something so intimate and personal for YOUR family. Maybe I'm just an odd introverted, introspective bird like that though.

It occurred to me that your anonymity was shot the moment I read an article. However, I didn't even give it a second thought. I don't need to know your name. I never needed to know even their names.

You will always be the Magazine Man and the Magazine family to me. If I truly knew you outside of the blogosphere, I'm sure I'd feel differently and be at that service. In my own strange way, I want to respect the fortress of anonymity and give your family the space to heal.

Again, I'm deeply sorry this happened to your family and my prayers are with your family. Take care of that beautiful family of yours and yourself.

clioskissataoldotcom if you need or want anything. Or even just to vent.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
[Hugs] to you and yours. Best wishes...
 
thinking of you..
 
This may not be the place to weigh in but I know people read these comments as much as I do, to see what others are saying and to try to reach out to each other like we're reaching out to MM.

Maybe it's none of my business and not my place to say so, but I do hope that no-one who knows MM through this blog alone will go to the funeral of his parents.

Come to my blog and discuss, or even to slag me if you disagree, but none of us belong at this event that is meant to be for the people who knew and loved MM's parents, and for people yes to support those who they leave behind...but not for us.

We all adore MM, this much is clear. But attending the funeral of his parents and entering into his life is and that of his extended family is a line that I wouldn't be comfortable crossing, and one that I hope others won't cross either.

Listen, I SO get the motivation and the reasoning. I too feel powerless, and like I wish I could do something, anything, to help.

But we've got to limit ourselves to the arena in which we've been allowed to get to know MM and his world, and we have to let this family grieve on their own.

The way we can help is to respect them at this time of need - their privacy, security and time together are paramount.

We share so much of ourselves online in this community we've created for ourselves and the outpouring of emotion, I know, has been heartwarming for MM.

But I beg of you, let's leave it here. Please.
 
What a nightmare for you. Through blogging, we connect in spirit. It should stay that way unless there's a clear invitation (my humble opinion - not stepping on anybody's toes who feel differently). I hope your privacy is respected. God Bless.
 
you have my deepest, heartfelt sympathies...
 
it's amazing to me that you've found the time to update us on how you're doing. it's so kind of you to be taking care of us in the middle of what you're going through. i'm glad that our messages have given you some comfort.

it honestly never occured to me to read any news story links, the main reason was that i didn't want to discover your true identity... i love your magazine man alter ego. it allows me to ascribe superhero-status to you of the pen is mightier than the sword variety, of course, and i want to keep it that way.

good luck keeping your chin up through it all
jill
 
I'll just make my thoughts known here like always MM- My prayers and special thoughts to you and all your family---- I'm so sorry.
 
MM, I'm sorry that in such a time filled with so much, your blogger friends became something else you had to "handle". But you did so gracefully, amazingly, and as you always do. I have a severe amount of respect for the man your parents raised, and that respect will always stand as my memorial to them.

I wish you all the luck and power in the world to raise you up and help you deal with all the details that get in the way of your true task, mourning. And I will you strength when those distractions pass.

I'm sorry to hear that BB won't be returning in the foreseeable future. My thoughts go out to him--though you don't have to tell him that, of course.

We're all behind you, MM, and we all love you, and I'm positive that none of us would ever want to do anything to inconvenience you or make you uncomfortable. We all just want to help. Thank you again for the tact and straightforwardness with which you made your needs known.

I'm here, as are we all, should you need anything further.

Heather
 
Just sending you more thoughts and prayers as you handle all these painful details. Hugs to you and your family, and extra happy birthday hugs to the Brownie :)
 
I am praying for you and your family. I know they are just words. But as a journalist, it's all I've got.

I don't know you in real life, but I hope you know that everyone who visits here has you in their thoughts and prayers.

God bless. Today and always.
 
I can only echo what others have said so eloquently. I am so sorry that during such a difficult time, you have had to deal with issues making it even more difficult. I can't imagine the roller coaster you've been on recently. But I will keep praying that you will be able to continue handling it with the strength of character that we've all come to know and respect. I have no doubt that you will.

Sending healing thoughts from Georgia.
 
Many hugs from Colorado.... My thoughts and prayers are with you always...
 
MM:

Ah, Jesus. I am floored and horrified to read this news. I'm so, so sorry for this shocking loss.

You and your family matter to your readers. We follow along and truly care. A lot of tears are being shed for you and your family out here in blogland.

I send a big embrace over the wires. I will pray for your parents, for you and your family, for all the families, and even for the driver.

Excruciating. May whatever comforts life has to offer come rushing your way now.

All my best,
Tina
 
May God have mercy on you as the numbness and the busyness of "arrangements" give way.
 
Good luck, MM. I've been through the whole fueral planning thing, and it's a bitch. Hang in there, and rely on the support of your friends and families to get you through what's gonna be a very difficult time.

And I have to second the opinions of some of those people who posted comments here. When MM posted details and links that blew away his anonymity, I highly doubt it was meant as an invite to voyerurs to attend the funeral of his parents or gawk at his family.

I honestly think that if you care at all about MM as we all do as readers, keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers. If you don't know him personally, a funeral is not a place to stage a meeting. That seems like a lack of respect for him in a rough time, and a poor reflection on us as a blogging community.
 
While NY is too far for me to even consider it, I agree with the other comments to respect the family in their moment of pain and loss.

If anyone wants to show support for MM and his family, The obituaries give us a starting point-

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to:

The Springfield Volunteer Fire Dept.
P.O. Box 22
Springfield, NH 03284

Springfield F.A.S.T. Squad
P.O. Box 121
Springfield, NH 03284

In liu of the tradgedy (though the news hasn't reported the exact reasons for the crash) an online donation for an organization like MADD might also be an appropriate idea for those that don't/can't mail something.
 
I'm so appreciative that you've taken the time to write anything here. I'm sorry that the aunt and uncle are being so difficult. You and BB certainly don't need any extra grief right now. I'm sorry you missed the Brownie's birthday; I have no doubt that was painful for you, too. Without even knowing it, you've made this stanger/friend smile on my weak days. I wish I had a way to give you that. Hang in there.
 
Katrina and everyone:

-Mr. Gator grew up among his father's trucking company employees and knows something of the situation. His father's company specialised in short distance moving, so he didn't see it first hand but he heard plenty.

Long distance trucking companies have rules(I'm not sure what the laws are) to ensure that drivers don't drive too many miles, too fast, in too short a time, to take reasonable rest breaks and to keep mileage logs to prove it. BUt these rules are not enforced.

Drivers are encouraged to drive extra hours at higher speeds than the official logs indicate. If they don't, they get penalised.

From his educated perspective, the driver was probably exhausted and not payign attention. Fatigue, not durgs or alcohol, was the likely cause.

I've seen news stories sayign no one understands why such a "nice straight safe" bit of highway has so many accidents. Long striagt stretches or road are quite dangerous, because drivers think they can pay less attention and just go. With no need to pay much attention to steering, a driver can get sleepy or even doze off.

According to Mr Gator's opinion, the driver and his employer are equally at fault. The descriptions I've read of the cause has been vague but definitely includes driver inattention.

If the driver has any decency at all, he's already had the worst punishment he could have.
 
Little Gator- For the record, I was not insinuating drugs or alcohol as the cause for the accident, I only suggested MADD as it is the only organization with online donations that came to my mind that is directly trying to make the roads safer for other drivers. While I don't have any statistics handy, as far as I'm aware in the news there seem to be more drunk driving accidents per year than those caused by overtired/overworked drivers.
If you know of any other online road-safety related organizations, I'm sure links would be equally appreciated.
 
Thanks katrina. I've been tryign to find such an organisation and haven't been able to. I too would like to know if anyone finds something.
 
katrina, I hate to pick on one point but this is very important. Fatigue and over-the-counter medications (i.e. caffeine pills, cold medicines, antihistamines) cause as many if not more accidents than alcohol. part of the reason alcohol gets more play in road accidents is because law enforcement officials are rewarded for punishing heinous and politically sexy/lurid crimes such as drunk driving.

Unfortunately, in accident such as this, law enforcement doesn't get the full picture and cannot see what kind of pressures the trucking company has put on the driver through "if everything was perfect" scheduling and improper load management (load and unload times).

I know how horrible these accidents can be. My father's trucking company has had relatively minor ones but he always took responsibility and try to make things right. Not all trucking companies are willing to do this.
 
This is my first visit, I got here through Alala's blog, and I am so very unspeakably sorry for your and your family's immense loss. And as incongruous as it seems, congratulations on your new baby daughter.
 
I've never had to endure this kind of pain and hardship although I know, one day, I will. I just hope I maintain the same level of poise that you seem to have. I'm sure there are rough times that you aren't sharing with us as they are a personal matter. But your public face, insofar as we are concerned, has been one of enduring stoicism.

I'm sure what you are going through cannot be easy. But hang tough and know that we're all behind you.
 
Agreeing with THESTRAIGHTPOOP that I hope no one from here attends the funeral. I also searched the web to find info on the accident. But never did it occur to me to leave a comment on any of the "family" guestbooks - that is not my place. It was strange to learn your real name, and I read it once, and then forgot about it. You are still only known as MM.

Still sad and praying...

Cindy in CO
 
MM - I'm sorry to hear that this wonderful blog has caused any strife between you and BB or any other family members. Please know that all of us who read your blog daily have been grieving with you during this time. I hope we aren't making anything worse! You're in my prayers and thoughts daily, and the pain I feel in my heart has only been made more acute now that some of us are able to put names and "real" information to the faces and stories we've been enjoying for months.

May the peace of God be with you all at this time. We'll all still be here when you get back - whenever that time is right for you.
 
I regret that it is during such a difficult time for you that I have first found your blog. My heart pours out to you and your family. May you, in time, find some peace.
 
I love to tune in to your little world here and hear your stories. It's like reading a column in newspaper or watching your favourite TV personalities. You develop an attachement to them.

I would ecourage everyone here to remember that our affection for this man and his family has developed in this "little world". And we should keep our best wishes and support in this world.

It would also be nice if we could take our debates on the issues related to the crash and it's causes outside this "little world". Maybe debate it on your own blog or via email. MM and his family should be spared this debate, especially now.
 
Thank you for taking time to let us know how you are doing MM. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
 
Still thinking of you and BB and your family frequently every day. I appreciate your taking the time to update us, and for having the presence of mind to clarify your needs. I hope the blogging community listens to previous noters and continues their support virtually instead of in person.
 
You continue to be in our thoughts, MM. I hope the time with family provides you with more comfort than stress. These pivotal life events, and dying is certainly one of them, brings out the best, and unfortunately, the worst in us. Peace to you and yours, especially to BB. He should know that we are thinking of him in a special way.
 
Just thinking of you and saying a prayer at this time.
 
It's 4 pm on Thursday. I'd be there if I thought it would help, but since I don't think so Im thinking of all of you.
 
It's 4:11pm on my clock, on Thursday the 3rd, and all I can do is send my thoughts to you.

Hope they give you a bit of strength to get through today.
 
I'm thinking of you and your family. Be strong. ::hugs::

Laura
 
i'm still thinking of your family too, have been for hours. Not just you NH family but the folks back at Magazine Mansion.
 
1:30 Friday.

Still thinking of you all day today.

Regardless of who you're with, you're not alone.
 
2:07pm here. I am in a meeting and thinking of you. Hope all is going as well as it can, and that you feel a little bit of strength.

Also keeping the family back home in my thoughts and prayers too.
 
I'm hoping by now you're able to be planning to go home. Either way, we're still here.
 
I am so sorry you have to go through this right now. It's all just so wrong.

Hang in there.
 
oh god. i didn't know. i've been offline lately and i had no idea.

mm, i'm so sorry. words just don't... there's nothing to say except i'm so so sorry.

virtual hugs.
 
Hello to the Masthead'
I stumbled upon your blog vai a few link hops.
I wish I had found your site ages ago. You write such a wonderful family theme. Your love and pride in your family shows brightly. Sorry to plod allong at what must be such a dificult time for you. Just know that a stranger in on the West Coast of Canada is praying for you and your family and especially for the souls of your beloved parents, may they rest in peace.
I came close to losing my parents a while back due to a horrendous accident, I can honestly say, after that I never took them for granted another day.
Blog Hugs.
We are all one big family of humanity.
 
I've just come back to your site after a longish absence and am stunned and horrified to find the congratulations on your beautiful daughter so swiftly followed by tragedy.
I'm so very sorry for you and for your family.
 
It's Tuesday, May 8, at 11:25 a.m.

Just stopping by to let you know I'm thinking of you.
 
It's been a week since you posted. I, too, wanted to let you know you're in my thoughts.

4:13pm EST, May 8th
Melissa
 
I came here through MyDogIsChelsea, and I have never read your blog before. My stomach sank for you when she told me what happened. It sank again as I read it here. I am so sorry for you, and there is really not much more I know to say to a complete stranger. Just know that somewhere in Tennessee, a complete stranger's heart aches for you.
 
My condolences on the loss of your parents. I just lost my father two weeks ago as an indirect result of an auto accident that took place a month before. It's been a really weird thing to go through, particularly if you have to take care of the business side of things. In my case, I knew my dad was dying and I was able to visit him, although he wasn't very lucid; still, I can't imagine what you must be going through in that regard. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and take care.
 
I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and have been since this tragic accident.
 
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
 
i'm so sorry.
 
My greatest hope is that everyone respects your wishes at a time like this, and I wish I had enough optimism and faith in humanity to say that they most certainly will. But a quick look at the first guest book has already dashed my hopes :(

Regardless of who or where you are, my thoughts are with you and your family, MM. The "who" never mattered to me. Just the fact that you are an awesome person, son, brother, husband, dad, and writer is all I ever needed to know.
 
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