YEAR IN REVIEW: 2019, THE YEAR THAT LITERALLY SEEMS TO BE DYING IN A FIRE.

Time for me to review the year that was. Let’s be honest: this isn’t going to be a cheery gagapalooza of cheeriness. 2019 was a terrible year, where everything was overshadowed by one moment so deeply traumatic that we will be struggling with its aftermath and connotations for years to come.

But bad should be recorded with good. That is why we journal. To lay down our own truths, and share our lives, no matter where they take us. I mean, that and nob gags, obviously.

So, read on if you wish, forewarned and foreskinned  forearmed:  this year contains more on the truths side and less on the usual level of nob gags. And let the wind grip the ashes of 2019 and blow them into the ocean.

Continue reading “YEAR IN REVIEW: 2019, THE YEAR THAT LITERALLY SEEMS TO BE DYING IN A FIRE.”

BREAKING A SPINE WAS EASIER

Today marks twelve weeks since our son Blake took his life.

There are few, if any, physical signs of our ongoing pain. My weight has ballooned again. Luscious wears a tiny urn, filled with perhaps 1/16th of a teaspoon of Blake’s ashes, on a chain. Connor’s attitude, work, and marks at school have plummeted. Erin has become focussed on her approaching move away from home to an obsessive extent. As a family, as individuals, we are… fractious. If you glance, you might think we’re coping quite well, actually.

But nobody else in our town, outside of our family unit of four, is counting our time for us. Nobody else compares what is to what was. For them, time blurs and smudges. The cause is easily forgotten, or overlooked. Only the symptoms remain. From past experience, I know the phase of “Oh, how terrible” is passing. The phase of “Still?”will soon begin.

I suffered a serious car accident in 2001, as a result of which, I fractured several vertebrae in my spine, along with several injuries that still affect me to this day. If they flare up, they alter the way I walk; my capacity to lift, carry, stand and sit; my mood; and even my ability to hold a decent conversation. If anyone asks, I can simply tell them– car accident, cracked spine, flaring up, bad day.

Oh, dear. Poor thing. So sorry.

We don’t get that with grief. There’s an expectation that, at some time — always unspecified, but always soon or by now — you will get over it, move past it, move on. As if a broken place in the Universe is a simpler fix than a broken bone. I took four months away from work when my first wife died, and even then, it wasn’t enough to cope with the stress of returning. It was several years before I was even fully functional, never mind coping and ready to turn my thoughts to being a completely rational member of my community. There are still members of the Australian SF world who will leave a room when I enter, because I was in no fit state to interact properly when they last saw me, and that gulf between the way I was and the way I ‘should’ have been resulted in too much bad karma and too great a hit to their perception of me. I have destroyed entire blocs of relationships through nothing more than the effortless feat of helplessly drowning in public.

Blake killed himself in the last week of the school term. We had one week away from work, and then the two weeks of the holidays. We were back on the job shortly after term four started. That was as much time as the Education Department could give us, and even then, we were ‘lucky’ to have the holidays in there as well.

It’s not enough. Nothing could, realistically, be enough. We won’t be whole again for an uncountable period of time, and even when we are, we won’t be the people you knew. The shape of us will have changed, forever. It will affect the way we walk; our capacity to lift, carry, stand and sit; our mood; our ability to hold a decent conversation.

And, still, we will be subject to “Still?”, as if a broken place in the Universe should be healed by time and some sort of psychic cast. Like a broken bone.

A broken back was easier.

It’s only been twelve weeks.

 

FOR OUR BLAKE

It was eight weeks ago today that Blake left us. Today, Luscious and I had these done.

 

Tattoo Both

“Me hath the main of much bereaved.” (Sonatorrek, Stanza 10*)

 

My chest, Luscious’ arm. The vikingr compass he wore above his heart.

For our boy.

 

 

(*This comes from the translation I read at Blake’s funeral. If it’s incorrect, or you have greater knowledge, please don’t tell us right now. It’s not our time to hear it.)

HELP HOLLY

Everything has been tough since Blake died, but for his partner Holly it’s been complicated by Real World ™ difficulties that have made life doubly hellish. Not only did she lose her job for the crime of mourning her partner, but thanks to a ridiculously short vacate notice and housemates who have chosen to cut and run rather than step up and take responsibility, Holly is left holding a financial can she can’t manage, never mind cope with.

The Triffitt and Battersby families have done what they’ve always done, come together to help one of their own. We’ve started a Go Fund Me Page to help Holly get back on her feet.

We can’t bring Blake back, we can’t get Holly into a new home, we can’t give her a job. But we can reach out to you, our friends, and ask that you help Holly in this time of desperate need. 

If you’ve got a couple of bucks to help a young woman who shouldn’t have to cope with the emotional load she is carrying dig herself out of a financial hole she shouldn’t have to bear, you would be helping in a way that will have very real consequences.

Click here is you can spare a buck or two to help Holly out.

A BARDING OF BLAKE

One of the things that defined Blake was his love of Dungeons and Dragons. When he moved out of home, I gave him my original set of dice, as I wasn’t playing at the time. He had them with him when he died.

One of the conversations we had, as a family, after his funeral, was around finding a way to commemorate him within the game he loved so well. We had his plaque, but somehow it felt important that others be allowed to have this aspect of his passing, too. I don’t know why his plaque, out of everything, but there it was: we wanted anyone who wanted to, to have a plaque of their own. So I hit upon the idea of creating a plaque as a magical item, and releasing it into the wild. That way, people could have a way of including Blake in their own games.

The idea has grown into two linked items, and here they are. McTrippy’s Plaque and the Night Lenses incorporate several of Blake’s unique facets: his weird plastic sunglasses collection; his love of the Lythari class; his unique, strong charisma; his compulsive need to travel; his ridiculous enjoyment of setting comedy traps within games. They are, I hope, perfectly Blakey.

I’ve uploaded them to The Dungeon Master’s Guild, so hopefully they’ll be on that website and DriveThru RPG soon for all and sundry. But if you’re a reader of this blog, and a player of Dungeons and Dragons, they’re here for you now, should you wish to use them.

It’s something, I suppose.

 

Download McTrippy’s Plaque (pdf)

 

Credit: These cards were created using a Creative Commons template from the Binary Adventures Blog.

28 DAYS LATER, or ON COPING, or NOT.

Jeff Lacy walked to the ring as the hottest prospect in boxing. he’d been compared to a rampant Mike Tyson, to Apollo Creed, to everything young and brash and good-looking about American sports. He’d been anointed the next big thing, and was almost un-backable in the betting room. Joe Calzaghe was older, slower, past it. Eight years as champion had taken their toll. His hands, never tools of one-punch knockout power, were brittle shells, particularly his left, which he’d broken in his last bout and was convinced hadn’t healed properly. You couldn’t find anyone in the American press, and few in the British, who gave him a ghost’s chance against a fighter predicted to dominate the super-middleweight landscape for the next decade or more.

12 rounds later, Calzaghe was elevated to the legendary status he would never relinquish. Lacy was a hollow shell. Hypnotised by the nearly 1000 punches Calzaghe had thrown, concussed by the 350+ that had landed, the victim of one of the rarest feats in boxing– a perfect shut out round, in which he landed exactly zero blows to his opponent– Lacy was forever beaten. Gone. Destroyed. More than his body was broken that night in 2006. His spirit was ruined. He was never the same boxer again, never the same man. The abyss had not only stared back, it had bitten his soul in two. It was one of the greatest beatings in boxing history, and the man who lost it was forever lessened.

What does this have to do with Blake? Continue reading “28 DAYS LATER, or ON COPING, or NOT.”

PAREIDOLIA: BLAKE

Cattle die and kinsmen die,
thyself too soon must die,
but one thing never, I ween, will die, —
fair fame of one who has earned.
Havamal 76, from ‘The Poetic Edda’

 

Blake tribute dim16.9 (1)_Moment

 

The kids and I flew back from his funeral yesterday. Luscious is in Perth until Thursday, when she will return to us. Perhaps it’s time to talk about it.

On September 21st, my bonus son Blake lost the battle, and took his own life. He was a week past having turned 25 years of age.

Continue reading “PAREIDOLIA: BLAKE”