After a few weeks of blog inactivity and unanswered e-mails some fellow bloggers began to wonder if something extraordinary had happened to me.
I might have been ‘renditioned’ to some foreign state and denied all communication with the outside world.
Conversely I might suddenly have won millions on the lottery, bought myself a South Pacific island and been lying about smashed out of my gourd on coconut hooch whilst lissome dusky wahinis attended to my every whim. Or perhaps I’d fallen down a well.
However, in the reason-driven liberal world those who expressed concern regarding my whereabouts and condition universally conjectured that I’d probably been hit by a truck.
To the larger world I’d ceased to exist. Yet I still existed, I was just temporarily almost invisible.
Let me explain:
In late May my widowed mother was rushed into an ICU.
My eldest brother Ian flew back to the UK within hours of the news. I had to wait four days before I could take an "affordable" flight, my other brother Julian had to wait six days. None of us knew how the future would unfold.
Our mother was released from the ICU but was confined to a bed with a modest number of tubes stuck into her and oxygen as needed. If she recovered she would obviously require 24 –hour care, or she was simply We three going to die. After two weeks of daily visits our mother said she’d had enough and asked the doctors to let her die.
No evangelists showed up to fight for her "right to live". No lawyers for the hospital filed any motions. No Member of Parliament offered a diagnosis and Tony Blair did not comment or interrupt his schedule one jot.
We spent the next week and a half dealing with the funeral, the requisite municipal and governmental notifications and the estate. It was like ‘wedding-planning’ in reverse.
With everything organized as best as we could manage we left the probate process in the hands of the lawyers and returned to the US.
Living in the UK was not cheap. To give you an idea, ten gallons of gas cost $40. At the time Britons saved money by flying to New York to shop just for jeans and sneakers!
Every day spent in the UK cost us twice what we'd spend in the US and as we also weren't earning anything the effect was doubled yet again.
When we returned to the US the three of us were not only broke, we were in mor edebt than we had ever been. We three brothers could barely help ourselves , let alone each other. I no longer had a job, I couldn't pay the rent, my phone was cut-off and I was overdrawn.
When someone dies they cease to exist. But one can cease to exist without actually dying. In many respects I had ceased to exist.
It doesn’t take a spectacular event such as war or earthquake or flood to make it happen.
The only thing that maintained my existence was the concern of others—a few close friends and some sympathetic strangers with the wit to relate to my particular situation. Humanity and common cause prevailed over the rules and dogma that in general define our individual and collective lives and the nature and quality of our respective existence.
Though I ceased to "exist" for a while, I was not completely dead. Just because a person disappears, it doesn’t mean that they don’t still exist.