Endings & Beginnings

by jkatejohnston

17 November 2013

Dear Max,

My friend Chantal Lovejoy died. She was only seventy-four or seventy-five. That seems young to die these days. And it was unexpected, at least to me.

It feels like I’ve almost always known her. Her sons were my first friends who were boys. And she and her husband were my first friends who were grownups. It feels strange and sad. And at the same time my mind has plenty of room for all these practical and perfectly cheerful subjects: travel plans, what to wear, how and when does one trouble the recently bereaved for fashion tips, the anticipated delight of being by myself in a hotel room, the food—those Lovejoys always have great food, but how can that be true without Chantal? And aren’t you supposed to bring a casserole over when someone dies? Possibly not if they are French, which she was.

And my mind is very busy figuring out why nothing like that is ever going to happen to my parents, at least for a hell of a long time. They were so young when they had us kids that they’re not really that far ahead. So they need to live practically forever.


Notes from the other end of life. Cuixtli and Isaac spent the night, and this morning in the early dark they were lined up on the couch and Isaac was reading Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets aloud. Rapt attention. A cheerful fire. One fleece blanket to cover them all. After Captain Underpants they stayed on the couch, each looking at his own book. Then Enzo said, “I call Cocoa Puffs!”

I got one of those variety packs of sugared cereal: serving-size boxes of Cocoa Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks and Corn Puffs. They each grabbed two boxes and were shaking them like maracas. Now they’re at the kitchen table eating breakfast and making combinations.