Wishing the Cliche a Happy Death

"Sarah's gone." My husband addressed the back of my head as I worked at the computer. He was just back from the library with a few videos.

"What do you mean, 'gone'?" I asked without turning around.

"Dead." He was on his way up the stairs. "She died on Thanksgiving."

Sarah was a neighbor I would see regularly because I walk every day and she walked her dog every day. She was always good company and good conversation. Working at the public library in a small town, she was always good for some gossip. Seeing each other was always a pleasure, however brief. I knew her the way people know their neighbors--intimately and not at all.

A slender woman who had smoked, her habit left her with a grievous cough that grew like a black cloud that eventually engulfed her. After a week in hospice care, she went home to her brother for Thanksgiving and died there.

It's strange, humbling, and eerie to come home from a short vacation to find out someone you expect to see every couple of days is dead and gone. All the cliches bubble to the surface--life is short, enjoy each day, live without regrets, you never know...

Sarah came back to mind this week when the friend of a friend now dead for six years contacted me via email in the hopes of finding our mutual friend, whom he had been seeking for the past two decades.

Via email, each of us, though strangers, shared happy reflections of our friend. How he made us laugh! Remembering made us laugh all over again. Even now. I cried like a baby after I heard from this man; even now I have an email message from him waiting to be opened and addressed. I can't bring myself to it just yet.

Life is short, enjoy each day, you never know.... What are cliches but dead words--turns of phrase the meanings of which are lost on us because we use them too much?

Ironically, death invigorates language. Death can challenge our imagination to reorder priorities, to put love and joy ahead of everything else. The folks who brought the shredder to Times Square that anybody who chose to bury old griefs and petty grievances and consuming disappointments could do so created the perfect confetti for the New Year. Happy New Year to you. May you know every blessing in 2008. Live well.

(I've been dabbling with some short stories that deal with this theme. They are here.)


  1. HI SANDY!!this is a quick pass by so sorry I've no time to read but I shall browse again 'next year' ;)

    HAVE A BLESSED NEW YEAR! ~regards from the Netherlands


  2. Hi Sandy, a very happy new year to you. The clock in my laptop says it is the 17th minute of year 2008.

    I want to thank you for your wonderful and encouraging comment you wrote on my post on me body painting my nephew into a tiger. Your comments made me smile to myself, the entire day. Thanks for making me smile the whole day. I wish I can make some one smile the whole day. Your words mean a lot to me. Have a very wonderful New year.

  3. Hi Sandy, It's very wonderful post. Wishing you a very Happy New Year, Healthy, Prosperous New Year and a year that fulfills all your wishes


  4. Anonymous4:24 PM

    Kill these cliches, too...expect the unexpected, no way to know, it could be anytime. Finding this out was sad...

  5. You are truly a gifted writer! As time permits I intend to read more of your archived work.

    Thanks for your frequent visits to Country Captures and teh very best to you and your family in 2008.

  6. Anonymous5:58 PM

    Sandy, it is your deep sensitivity which makes all of the difference in your writing. I will spend more time with your short stories, which are in fact somewhat longer than mine.

    The bleak, cold, emptiness of personal loss must be utterly unbearable for atheists. My sister and her husband declared themselves Ann Randians and atheists, and so they and their kids (17 and 12) no longer know God.

    Death is something that is imposed on each of us. First, we see others die; and then we die. Atheism is a self-inflicted pain, wrapped up in despair.

    Your librarian friend is getting used to shushing the harpists in Heaven.

  7. Anonymous6:06 PM

    Oops, forgot: Happy New Year, Carlsons! (In Russian, it's С новым годом, which means "With the New Year". Not a great literary Dostoevskian mouthful, but I like the way it sounds: "Sss novyim go dom" with an accent on "nov" and on "dom".

  8. Sandy, I so know what you speak of here. Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend.

  9. Wonderful post...it drew me for a few reasons.."cliche"...my 16 year old son turned down champagne to toast in the new year calling it "a cliche"...which I thought was profound and mature for his age!! And secondly...life is short, oh so short as I've learned through walking the cancer journey...appreciate every moment and make each day "the day"...your post moved me.

    Happy New Year to you!

  10. Hi Sandy,

    I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your neighbor.

    I agree, life is short and it's always best to take advantage of each day and be grateful for our lives.

  11. This is my first visit to your blog, and I am so glad I found you. So refreshing.
    I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. It is amazing how your life can change in an instant. Hopefully this new year will bring much more good than bad times.

  12. I agree Sandy. Life is very precious and you have to live every day to the full and appreciate what you have. Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.

  13. wow. blog, poetry, short stores & more! =)

    Life is short indeed. And with that, I think that's what makes life so valuable indeed.

  14. ".....My wish for you is to have no regrets as you wander and sometimes stumble throughout your life. That you create the ability to pause and to feel, the delicacy in moments...."


    Thank you for this post. We all need to be reminded what a blessing our lives are.



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