The New York Times, Death and a Latte.

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Today started with Mick Jagger singing “Emotional Rescue” at 7:45am.

By 8am, the spot where I parked my car in the wee hours of this morning, was no longer legal. I purposely parked there because the possibility of a $65 ticket will roust me from bed when nothing else will.

By 8:20am, I was sitting outside of one of my favorite coffee shops, sipping a cold latte, sitting with Niney, reading the New York Times.

It was a normal morning….
until I flipped the creased newspaper over to the obituaries.

When I was a 14 year old goth girl in Florida, I would regularly read the obituaries and wrote a full notebook of poems about the people listed in them.

I would read the story their family composed –
a paragraph of a summary of life,
I would imagine them,
curve my pen into the cursive of their names
and write a poem for them.

Every person in the South Florida Tribune obituaries over the course of several months of my 14th year, had their own poem.
I felt like no one should die and not have a poem written for them
and it was my teenage mission to do it.

So now…
this morning…
this caught my eye.
I wondered what Missy’s story was.
I wondered if the person who received the notice, working at the Times, asked them.
Probably not.
Some things we are not allowed to know.
A quick search on my phone showed that Arline, Joachim, Eddie, Sheri and Larry had printed a notice for Missy every single year in the New York Times since as far back as the year 2000.
I was touched by their dedication.
I closed my eyes to send them good thoughts wherever they are.
They could have been the people sitting next to me,
staring at clouds,
drinking coffee,
I’ll never know.

My mind wandered in the way minds do when the shadows of trees wave at you in the early morning.
I was in that space of just waking up and looking at all of these stories.
I haven’t read obituaries in years.
And here I was.

A friend of mine and I joke that his type of girl is someone who would have their wedding announcement in the New York Times.
I thought about that.
My birth announcement wasn’t in it, my wedding announcement wasn’t in it, and I thought for a moment, if hopefully very far away from now, if my story would be among these others in the Times,
if some 14 year old goth girl in Florida would write a poem about me.

When I was 6, my Grandma and Grandpa lived near a cemetery and we would go for walks there because of the beautiful gardens.
When we walked, I used to say the names on the tombstones out loud
because I wondered how long it was since someone had uttered their name.

I said their names like prayers.

And maybe that’s why I kept reading this morning…maybe that’s why I kept reading about the life stories of the 89 year old writer, the 77 year old longtime New York City sculptor, the 87 year old traveler, the 94 year old architect…..

and then I came upon the Filmmaker.
The shadows stopped waving on the pavement in front of me.
I forgot about them
because of a name.

A name I knew.

A name of a fellow filmmaker and artist in Brooklyn that I knew 10 years ago.
Without thinking, I brought the Times to my face
maybe to bring his printed name closer
maybe to shield my expression from the world around me in that moment.
Old friend, no paragraph in the world could ever say how you shined.

I thought of ripping up the obituary,
like I did in private when my best friend Jeff passed away in 2006.
As if that would signify to the universe a request for a “do-over”,
shredding the faulty draft,
a request for a re-write of this history.

But it didn’t work then.
It won’t work now.

I watched the world keep moving around me.
They don’t know how to stop in times like these.
They just don’t know.

They just don’t know.

I folded up the paper carefully.
Put it on the counter of the coffee shop.
Thought of his family,
of his children,
of his dear friends,
of a life lived,
and of making the best of our time here always.

Rest In Peace, John.
I will not let the day simply go by….


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