While I was there David, the fisherman who owns the Black Sheep now, was out working on the boat. I watched him working on the deck and then motoring across the cove to a slip --- I don't know what he was doing, maybe picking up bait so he can lobster fish tomorrow. It was sweet watching him go about his work. It was sweet remembering all the many conversations that took place in that parking lot --- almost always about writing. How do you tell a story? How do you build suspense? How much poetry is allowed before it becomes obnoxious? What is the difference between emotional honesty and sentimentalism? How much truth can we bear to reveal? These were all things we talked about endlessly. I miss you, Mark. I really do.
Sometimes I think I feel his presence near me. I think I feel his hand --- that big, hard hand --- touching the back of my neck, the way he used to do. Sometimes I think I hear him say my name in that quiet, low voice of his --- “Kath”. He was one of the few people who called me that. Sometimes in the morning I think I hear him open the back door from the deck for one of his early morning visits. Sometimes it's just the “himness” of him that won't leave me.
I think about the first three and a half years versus those last few months when things were so estranged between us. I blamed myself for the fights. Actually, he always denied that we fought. He said we “disagreed”. He didn't like the word fight. But it was so strained then. He said he wanted me to start editing his second book, Code Flag Alpha, and I said he needed to work harder at promoting the one that was already out. He said I wasn't being supportive of the proposed movie deal. I said I would be thrilled when the check cleared the bank. He said I was paying more attention to other books I was working on than I was to his. I said I needed to earn more money. He said I was being negative. I said I was a mess. My father had recently died and I had a book just out that I didn't have time to promote and on and on and on... Now I know there was so much more than I did know.
His mother tells me that I need to remember how sick he was. She says he was taking a lot of medication and it effected his temperament. We, neither she nor I, knew that at the time. Last Thursday night she told me that in one of their last conversations he told her how much he hoped he'd be able to pay me back for the things I had done for him. I think he knew what was coming, I really do.
I guess this is what happens when there is a loss greater than you think you can bear --- you keep going over ever tiny detail and wondering if it meant more than it did. I have a box full of manuscripts with his handwritten markups on them and notes and little “parables” he would write on the backs of envelopes and stick under the windshield wiper on my car. I look at his handwriting and wonder what earthly piece of him remains in that. Sometimes, after he had a disagreement with someone in his family, he would come over here for a little consolation and he would look at me with those big, warm, soft eyes of his and say, “They're not my family, Kath. You're my family.”
I still have not been able to go into Halibut Point. I struggle going into the coffee shop. I get weepy when I pass by one of our special meeting places. I miss him and it hurts and yet and yet and yet...
Hemingway always said to write the truest thing you know and this is mine: If I had a choice between all this pain and never having known him at all, I'll take the pain.
Thanks for reading.