Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

It was a dark and stormy morning.

26 April 2010


This essay aired 30 April 2010 on NPR affiliate WVPE-FM .  

The thought of her crumpets nearly unmanned him.  “Lucie,” he choked.

Facebook is my grown-up playground where, in the comfort of my home, I meet friends old and new to share information, tell stories about our lives, and generally have a good time.    These encounters are, by turn, fun, interesting, and sad; sometimes maddening; often poignant; and on many occasions have made me roar with laughter.

Today I am here to share with you, dear listener, one of my very favorite Facebook experiences.  My dear friend Matthew posted a single, simple sentence that elicited a string of exchanges among him, his friend Bill, and me that I believe is worthy of the Bulwer-Lytton award for worst fiction:

It was a dark and stormy morning.[1]

The count stepped from the shadows of the dripping jacaranda bush and softly scratched at the window. “Lucie, let me in,” he murmured. “It’s dark and stormy out here, and I’m workin’ up a powerful thirst …”[2]

Lucie knew better than to respond. Letting him in would mean tea and sympathy — and not the fun kind, either. That man would drink cup after cup of tea and would spend the better part of the morning enumerating in minute detail all the wrongs the world had inflicted upon him. Then he would make a sloppy, fumbling pass at her, mistaking her boredom for interest.  No, she would not be a guest at that pity party again.  Slowly, slowly she pulled the curtains shut thinking, “I really must trim the jacaranda once this rain lets up.”[3]

The first twitch of the curtains gave the count hope, but no. He was staring through the misted pane at the wrong side of the gingham print. “English Breakfast!” he cursed under his breath. He thought of the hot life-giving liquid, of her deft handling of pot and cup, and of the way she had silently mopped up beneath his feet when he had become overly excited telling one of his anecdotes about the drainage of the back pasture.  Only she understood.  She would listen with head in hand, her eyes shifting now and then to the kitchen clock.  She would wordlessly refill his cup and fetch crumpets from the toaster.  The thought of her crumpets nearly unmanned him.  “Lucie,” he choked.  Was this self-pity?  Well what if it was?  If Lucie was denying her sympathy he would go DIY.  “Come, Bruno,” he called peremptorily.  The count’s pet tapir reluctantly detached himself from his snack and fell in step, stems from the jacaranda leaves protruding from his expressive snout.[4]

The count had scarcely turned away from the now gingham-framed window when the skies opened, thunder rolled, lightning flashed, and water drops the size of English Breakfast tea bags lashed his face. He only had time to wonder why the rolling thunder preceded the lightning flash before he was as waterlogged as one of Noah’s friends who never made it into the ark.  He glanced back at the jacaranda bush.  He considered taking shelter there again, as he had so many mornings, and evenings, and even noon times and high tea.  He had shed many tears under that bush.  But then Bruno caught his eye, and something in the tapir’s glance gave him strength.  “I will never seek solace beneath those bright purple flowers again,” he said.  “Farewell, Lucie.  May your charms be loosed on better men.”  He set his face toward the road and forced his legs to move.  Bruno sighed, shook the water from his coat, and slogged after him.[5]

The jacaranda bush never blossomed so beautifully again, for having kept the count company under its branches those many hours, Bruno’s final leaving was the end of his leavings.[6]

[1] Matthew Bell


[2] Bill Svelmoe

[3] Elizabeth Van Jacob

[4] Matthew Bell

[5] Bill Svelmoe

[6] Elizabeth Van Jacob

Chronicle of a Death Told in Facebook Postings

8 March 2010

This essay aired 12 March 2010 on NPR affiliate WVPE-FM as a contribution to Michiana Chronicles — a nice wedding anniversary present for Scott.  

Elizabeth Van Jacob and Scott learned that, like creatures from a horror movie, Scott’s tumors have again repaired themselves and grown significantly. Scott will no longer receive treatment for his condition. We are meeting with hospice later this week.  September 23

Elizabeth Van Jacob is taking a leave of absence from work effective immediately to live la dolce vita with her dolce amore.  September 24

Elizabeth Van Jacob just shared the very last cherry tomato of the season with Scott in the garden that was ours and ours alone.  September 26

Elizabeth Van Jacob is so very pleased that as Scott comes out from under the fog of the chemotherapy drugs, his inner light is shining through brighter than ever.  September 27

Elizabeth Van Jacob was amazed at how cheerful and matter-of-fact the hospice nurse was about driving from Elkhart to South Bend after midnight.  October 1

Elizabeth Van Jacob observes that while Scott’s body declines rapidly, the light within burns determinedly.  October 6

Elizabeth Van Jacob is glad this chilly morning to finally fulfill this inexplicable urge she has had the last couple of days to cover Scott with a cozy blanket.  October 7

Elizabeth Van Jacob sadly watched her husband say goodbye to his dear friend.  October 7

Elizabeth Van Jacob‘s Scott is fading fast. We are all snuggling together on the sleeper sofa in the living room, reminiscing, singing Christmas carols, expressing our love. No phone calls, please. Scott cannot hold the phone or focus his attention for conversation.  October 8

Elizabeth Van Jacob just kissed Scott goodnight.  October 8

Elizabeth Van Jacob notes that in the 8,000+ days she has known Scott, yesterday was the first that he did not have a bite to eat. After a restless night, he is finally sleeping. Unfortunately, every time he starts to fall asleep, he thinks he has to say his final goodbye to us. Scott really enjoyed hearing all the messages and emails everyone sent yesterday. Thanks for being with us through these final days and hours.  October 9

Elizabeth Van Jacob is glad that Scott said goodbye to family and friends and had a delightful spurt of energy and lucidness while hanging out with his girls last night. The Scott we were with yesterday is no longer here today since he is barely conscious. It is difficult for me to fathom that I will never really speak with him again. I am overcome by a profoundly sad and lonely feeling.  October 9

Elizabeth Van Jacob and Neil Young are singing Harvest Moon to Scott via youtube. Neil is a great back-up singer.  October 9

Elizabeth Van Jacob reports that yesterday a Becky daisy blossomed in her garden; they usually finish blossoming in mid August. When Scott was wooing me, he brought me a big bouquet of Becky daisies.  I still see him dressed in a white t-shirt, his long blonde hair illuminated by the late afternoon sun glowing behind him as he held them out to me. Scott died at 4:41 this morning.  October 10

Elizabeth Van Jacob requests that friends attending tomorrow’s memorial approach her children with upbeat voices and give them quick hugs. They crave normality at this very difficult time.  October 14

Elizabeth Van Jacob is grateful to everyone who also played the youtube video of Neil Young last Friday night and sang Harvest Moon to Scott from Vermont to Indiana to Oregon to Thailand, across town, across the continent, across the ocean, and half way across the globe. Thank you for helping usher Scott so tenderly out of this world. If ever there was a prayer that was one.  October 16