.. The Electronic Lifeline

The bulk of my daily communication during my stay in Southern California after my mother's death was via e-mail. Providing both instant access and the convenience of being available at all hours, it allowed friends all over the country, even the world, to express their support. I was touched by the volume of short, heartfelt notes I received. And I was ever grateful to be able to express my own emotions and describe my experiences to a widely varied audience. And to do so at whatever hour I wished. It began with the announcement of my Mother's death, which I sent out before flying to California.



Date: Wed, Jan 17, 1996 12:07 AM EDT
From: Miamc
Subj: Unhappy news
To: GFD82@rnc2.rosenman.com, EbethSchoe, Miamc, lewis@jpmorgan.com, MRFREDL, nuly30a@prodigy.com, dkatz@interport.net, mbgc85a@prodigy.com, Rhonda.Angel@harpercollins.com, Mdeastwood, mmadden@pfizer.com, BalletNYC, YEARLYS@ip3gate.usa.com, sdross@ix.netcom.com, galbert@vnr.com, Mbroder518, sjharms@ix.netcom.com, kaoru@bis-hq.sony.co.jp, CathyLeC, klecompt@filenet.com, JSVMellin0, mrosenthal@kpscal.org, awia@gorge.net

To my friends,

For those of you who haven't heard my news, my mom passed away on Saturday the 13th. I'll be in Riverside for at least a week starting tomorrow afternoon. The funeral isn't scheduled yet, but it will certainly be later this week.

She was ill for the last 18 months, although she put a brave front on it and constantly insisted that she'd be getting better. She died quickly, at home, without spending time in a hospital or nursing home, which she dreaded. For that I am grateful.

I'll be checking my e-mail, for distraction as much as for information, so please do write me, or feel free to call either my machine, which I'll check, or my mom's house: (909) 683-2632.

The next few days, being in her house and at the funeral, will be the hardest, and I'll appreciate any moral support you can offer.

Thanks,
Mia




The responses started to arrive almost immediately.



Date: Tue, Jan 16, 1996 2:13 AM EDT
From: CJFowler
Subj: Re: Got your call . . .
To: Miamc

I was so sorry to hear your news. I had no idea your mother was so ill. I know there is nothing I can say that can make things better but my thoughts are with you. And please, if there is anything I can do please let me know. If you want to come up here next week or whenever you have an open invitation to stay at my house . . .

Even if you just want some time away before going back to NY you are welcome. Lord knows I am practically never here.

Hope all goes as well as possible. Send me your number. All the best.

Cathy




Subj: Your mother
Date: Tue, Jan 16, 1996 5:59 AM EDT
From: michael@hot.sf.ca.us
X-From: michael@hot.sf.ca.us (Michael Mellin)
To: Miamc@aol.com
Mia,

I was saddened to hear about your loss from Cathy. You know I'm thinking of you and sympathizing. It must be a very difficult time for you. I hope it's some comfort that your friends share in your unhappiness.

Love, Michael




I began to realize how many of my friends and acquaintences had faced the same trials recently. Was I as supportive of them? I'm not sure.



Subj: Re: Unhappy news
Date: Wed, Jan 17, 1996 12:34 PM EDT
From: galbert@vnr.com
To: Miamc@aol.com
Mia,

I was very sorry to get your message. It must be very difficult to be in the house without your mom there. I know that going to my mother's apartment after she died was very difficult, especially after the funeral. The cleaning out of the closets, etc. can be quite a trip; try to find some fun in it, which we did by making fun of some of the awful clothes, etc. that my mother had. (She had some truly astonishing 60's dresses in neon stripes which she coordinated with matching shoes and oversized earrings! What a hoot!)

I hope you're not alone and that your brother or friends can help with the arrangements, etc. Since I can't be of any immediate assistance, just let me say that my thoughts are with you. I'll light a candle at St. Francis Xavier church; it's a nice ritual.





Date: Wed, Jan 17, 1996 3:01 PM EDT
From: Mbroder518
Subj: Thinking of you
To: Miamc
Dear Mia

I am (we are) so so sorry to hear about your mom. I can't imagine anything being more difficult to cope with. Please know that Michael and my thoughts are with you and that we are here for you if you need anything or just want to talk. Although they weren't parents, losing Michael's brother, my best friend from childhood, and Lucas in '94 was truly unbearable. Just remember that, in time, one does feel better and can focus on the happier times with our loved ones.

I'm so glad your mother didn't have to go into a home or hospital; there's a lot to be said about that and I'm glad that brings you some comfort.

You are very dear to us Mia, and if we can lend any support or comfort, you know you've got it.

Melissa and Michael




Subj: Re: Unhappy news
Date: Wed, Jan 17, 1996 11:56 PM EDT
From: sdross@ix.netcom.com
X-From: sdross@ix.netcom.com (Scott D. Ross)
To: Miamc@aol.com
Hello Mia,

I'm very sorry to hear the news about your mother. It sounds as if she died with dignity which isn't so easy in this day of science. I'm am sure you are both pleased about that.

. . . I never met her, but if she was half the person you are she was quite a lady.

Scott




Subj: Unhappy news
Date: Thu, Jan 18, 1996 9:39 PM EDT
From: NULY30A@prodigy.com
X-From: NULY30A@prodigy.com (MS KAREN T HOWE)
To: Miamc@aol.com
Mia,

I am so sorry to hear your news. If you need anything, please let me know. Please know that my thoughts are with you and that you are so highly thought of by all of us. I am so sorry. It is a blessing that your Mom passed away at home. After having special people in my life pass away in hospitals, being at home is all you can ask for. I send my wholehearted wishes.

Karen




Subj: Lots o stuff
Date: Fri, Jan 19, 1996 12:53 PM EDT
From: lmisch@etec.org
X-From: lmisch@etec.org (Liz A. Misch)
To: Miamc@aol.com

Hi. How is CA? the family? Hope things are going better now that everyone is together. When do you return? Did you drive?--Elizabeth S. has offered to pick you up at the airport & I'd like to know when is a good time to have that drink. . . .

Take care, Liz




Date: Sat, Jan 20, 1996 4:36 AM EDT
From: Miamc
Subj: Re: Lots o stuff
To: lmisch@etec.org
cc: Miamc
>Hi. How is CA? the family? Hope things are going better now
>that everyone is together.

Yes, a bit. We had a memorial service this afternoon, which helped a lot.

>Elizabeth S. has offered to pick you up at the airport & I'd like
>to know when is a good time to have that drink.

That's sweet of her. I'll touch base with her about it. I'm going to stay here through next weekend (the 27th/28th) and possibly a few days into the week after. That'll give me enough time to go through everything and spend some time with myself here.

Mia




Liz's interest in my return was more intense than she let on. We planned to get together for dinner the Friday after my return to New York. In fact, she had invited more than a dozen of my friends to surprise me. While one invitee did let a hint slip, I was still pretty surprised, and very honored that so many people would come.



Date: Fri, Jan 19, 1996 6:41 PM EDT
From: JSVMellin0
Subj: No Subject
To: Miamc
Mia--

I was so sorry to hear your news about your mother. I am sure things are very difficult for you now, and remember my feelings in similar circumstances. You've been unfortunate not to have had your parents for longer. The transitional aspects are so jarring, even if the loss itself is expected. And whether or not expected, the loss does introduce a large absence in one's life.

I know what a strong person you are, and how such strength can be stressful if people tend to lean on you. I hope you will be cutting yourself plenty of slack for the next little while.

Please know that I'm thinking of you, Jane




Sometimes the messages said more about the sender than the situation. Yet, a sincere note about legal matters is more meaningful than rote sentiment.



Subj: Unhappy news -Reply
Date: Fri, Jan 19, 1996 11:27 PM EDT
From: YEARLYS@ip3gate.usa.com
To: MIAMC@aol.com
Mia

I hope things are going better in California. The weather forecast is for Floods here today and cold again tomorrow.

I spoke to Ken and asked him to call your machine and offer to give you advice. Since he is a lawyer and his father died last year, he has gone through what you are now experiencing.

Stewart




Date: Sat, Jan 20, 1996 4:36 AM EDT
From: Miamc
Subj: Re: Unhappy news -Reply
To: YEARLYS@ip3gate.usa.com
>I hope things are going better in California.

Considerably. We had a pleasant memorial service this afternoon, and the paper ran a good-size obituary this morning.

>Since he is a lawyer and his father died last year, he has gone
>through what you are now experiencing.

My oldest brother is the executor named in the will, and he's starting to get nervous about it all. He determined that the attorney who drew it up is still in business on Tuesday, but he hasn't called him yet. Instead he's making lists of things to do like "get control of x bank account," "get control of y CD." We tried to gently observe that he needs to call the lawyer for help with all that, and he got annoyed.

But, that stuff aside (I know it'll all work out eventually), I feel like we've make the first major steps toward closing matters here. I'm sort of looking forwared to spending a few days going through things here.

It looks like I'll be here through next weekend (27/28th). We're hoping to bury Mom's remains with Dad's next Saturday--no ceremony, but Bruce and I want to be there and he can't get back here until Friday night.

Mia




Subj: Re: Unhappy news
Date: Sat, Jan 20, 1996 2:11 AM EDT
From: sjharms@ix.netcom.com
X-From: sjharms@ix.netcom.com (Steve Harms)
To: Miamc@aol.com

Mia, I'm so sorry to hear the news about your mom. I only wish I had some magical words that could help you feel a little better.

I bet being in Riverside again will be strange. Oddly enough, Steve happens to be there too. He left last week to do some work for his clients. He'll be headed back this way on Monday. Too bad I didn't read your email earlier, I hear they're having a hell of a party tonight with all of our (Steve and my) old friends. I'll bet a party would sound pretty good about now. Oh, it's only 9:30 out there, hey if you get this message tonight you can still call. Riverside is only 20 minutes away from Rialto where he's staying with friends. . . . I wish I could be there too. I could use a party right about now myself.

If there's anything I can do, just type! . . . Take care. Be happy that your mom will always be with you. (But be careful in case she's actually watching!)

Sue




Date: Sat, Jan 20, 1996 4:36 AM EDT
From: Miamc
Subj: Re: Unhappy news
To: sjharms@ix.netcom.com
>I only wish I had some magical words that could help you feel
>a little better.
Just knowing you're out there helps.
>I hear they're having a hell of a party tonight

We had a memorial service for Mom today, then dinner at my oldest brother's in Corona. I think it would have been bad form to skip out on the family, especially since yesterday and today were the first time in years we were all together (and probably the last for many more years, the way we behave).

Already my brother Bruce has flown off (business in Florida). I'm here at Mom's house with my brother Ralph who I haven't seen in years. It's funny, though, he hasn't changed.

>Take care. Be happy that your mom will always be with you.
>(But be careful in case she's actually watching!)

I'll bet she is! Bruce and I feel like whatever we do with her house and her stuff would be okay with her. And no one else seems to be interested in anything here, anyway. We're having friendly competitions for some of the furniture and stuff (and laying claim to anything that the other expresses interest in, of course: "You can't have the stapler! I *need* that stapler. Mom said I could have it!"

I'm looking forward to some quiet time here after my brother Ralph leaves on Monday. I need it to say goodbye.

Mia




Subj: Re: Unhappy news
Date: Mon, Jan 22, 1996 12:21 PM EDT
From: king_lewis_unix@jpmorgan.com
X-From: king_lewis_unix@jpmorgan.com (Lewis King)
To: Miamc@aol.com
Mia,

Gay and I just yesterday learned the news of your mother's death and we are truly saddened for your loss.

>She died quickly, at home, without spending time in a hospital or
>nursing home, which she dreaded. For that I am grateful.

I understand. Reminds me of my grandfather who lived in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. A carpenter to the end, he had a heart-attack and lay down with his hammer between his knees and died. Hopefully I'll either keel over after receiveing a 360volt shock from my futzy old tube amp or something.

>The next few days, being in her house and at the funeral,

We assume by now the funeral has occured...we wish you strength and courage in the coming days. As this death leaves the house unoccupied, this means there are lots of tasks to do and things to get straightened out or put awright (I'm sure even more than I can imagine). At times it will seem like a monumental or impossible task (it always seems that way). On the other hand, you are someone with extraordinary abilities and we have faith that you can get through this.

Please know that we are standing by as your friends and want to help if we can.

With heartfelt sympathy,
Lewis and Gay




As time passed, my focus turned more and more to posessions--what to do with them, what to keep, who wanted what.



Date: Mon, Jan 22, 1996 6:33 PM EDT
From: Miamc
Subj: Re: Unhappy news
To: lewis@jpmorgan.com
Lewis & Gay,
Thanks for your note.

Lewis, my brother and I unearthed a goldmine--or should I say vacuum?--of tubes deeper in the pile I'd scratched back in September. This week I'll dust them off and have a closer look. If you have that wish list you sent me before handy, send it again--and what are the numbers of the really valuable ones?

Well, I have to press on with some real work. Know that I appreciate your moral support very much. I'll be in touch, and look forward more than you know to that weekend in New Hampshire next month (and I've already made it clear to Dan, Elizabeth, and Andrew that I expect to be pampered).

Thanks again,
Mia




Subj: Re: Unhappy news
Date: Mon, Jan 22, 1996 7:47 PM EDT
From: king_lewis_unix@jpmorgan.com
X-From: king_lewis_unix@jpmorgan.com (Lewis King)
To: Miamc@aol.com
> Lewis, my brother and I unearthed a goldmine
Wow!!! -Lewis




Date: Tue, Jan 23, 1996 1:28 AM EDT
From: Miamc
Subj: Re: Unhappy news
To: lewis@jpmorgan.com

I was particularly delighted to find the strobe light that I used to play with as a kid. It's not a disco strobe, but a piece of testing equipment with all kinds of settings. But it works and generates the same effect. PARTY!!!

The woman who came over each day to check Mom's blood sugar and stuff came by this evening. We had decided to give her the blood sugar test kit (her son's diabetic). Mom's death hit her hard, especially since she just lost one of her other elderly clients. I can't imagine her job--caring for dying people. Anyway, her visit was pretty depressing, so I indulged in a big gin and tonic (coincidentally, the drink of choice for me and two of my brothers). Am I slurring my typing?

Mia




Friends in the area helped me regain some perspective, while distant friends allowed me to quantify it.



Date: Fri, Jan 26, 1996 3:50 AM EDT
From: Miamc
Subj: Re: Sailing meeting
To: EbethSchoe

I had dinner tonight with Kirk and Cathy in Laguna. Kirk was pretty tired, he just flew in from a week of travel. I had a chance to use Cathy's scanner while she was picking him up at the airport, so it was a productive visit. Then I decided to come back to Riverside because a) They hadn't seen each other in a week, and b) I need to get an early start in the morning and I wouldn't do that there. But it did me a lot of good to see them--I didn't know how much I needed it.

Yesterday I was looking through the paper and saw an ad for Two if By Sea, and I had to remind myself that I'd seen it. It was wierd, like for a couple days last week I was on automatic. Thanks for being there to help me through it.

Mia




Subj: Greetings
Date: Mon, Jan 29, 1996 5:25 PM EDT
From: msjogren@banmail.ml.com
To: miamc@aol.com

I wish I had logged on to my Prodigy account before today, and further that I had actually dialed back in to send the message I composed off line at lunch in response to your e-mail.

Our thoughts are with you many times in the past few weeks. The card expressing those thughts went by snail-mail and should be awaiting you upon your return.

I hear that you are not likely to make it to the (boat) show this weekend. I hope you are able to surprise us and come. You might enjoy crawling over all of those new boats and finding that next irresistable toy.





Subj: Re: Unhappy news
Date: Tue, Jan 30, 1996 9:32 PM EDT
From: kaoru@bis-hq.sony.co.jp
X-From: kaoru@bis-hq.sony.co.jp (Kaoru Kijima)
To: Miamc@aol.com
Mia,

I am sorry to hear your mom's passing away. I really appologise not having send some words soon. I also had a difficult time by separating from my boyfriend. Yours and mine are different type of difficulty, but we both need time to be healed.

Please take good care of yourself. I pray for you!!

Kaoru




At last it was over, or rather, I'd done all I could. I would heal no more so far from my own home, and I could not face packing another box of memories or china.



Date: Thu, Feb 1, 1996 11:07 PM EDT
From: Miamc
Subj: I'm coming home
To: GFD82@rnc2.rosenman.com, EbethSchoe, Miamc, lewis@jpmorgan.com, MRFREDL, dvuc97b@prodigy.com, dkatz@interport.net, mbgc85a@prodigy.com, Rhonda.Angel@harpercollins.com, Mdeastwood, mmadden@pfizer.com, BalletNYC, YEARLYS@ip3gate.usa.com, sdross@ix.netcom.com, galbert@vnr.com, bfeldman@wmc.com, JuliaF, uscednkx@ibmmail.com, lmisch@etec.org, awia@gorge.net

Thanks to you all for the kind notes and mood enhancement over the last couple weeks. As you may know, I've been in Southern California since January 17th going through my mother's house and preparing to ship some things home. It's been a long journey though our family's history, and I'm looking forward to getting home and back to a more normal routine.

I'll be back late Sunday night, February 4, so after that you can reach me back in Forest Hills.

Thanks again for all your loving support,

Mia






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*If your note to me isn't here, please don't think I didn't value it. I had to edit some, and I may not have kept every message. Return

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