Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

Just difficult news coming in via messenger. It used to be the paper mail. Or phone calls. But it makes no difference to me. Communication: the medium isn’t the message. I got a notice on messenger when my brother let me know my grandmother had died. It didn’t hurt more or less. It hurt. When my mother died, the blinking dots on my computer screen β€” waiting for my brother to say more β€” didn’t make my emotions more or less complex.

In November, when I woke to see the message from B’s husband about her terminal diagnosis so out of the blue. I was grateful not to have two thoughts in my head β€” how do I respond with him watching/listening to respect his feelings, and what the hell is he saying?

Yesterday: M, now, too. Diagnosed with a cancer that moves through her body. I see the message while I’m in class. My colleague is presenting the choices for next year’s musical to the students. Rent is one of them. He explains, “This song is about what you’d do if you were told you had one year to live.”

I start crying.

No one knows all of the reasons why. And this moment is not supposed to be about me – for so many reasons – it is not about me.

This morning a different kind of message pops up. My brother, awake on the other end, still in yesterday. Our dead mother’s estate isn’t going to let us go without a final dig into our wounds. I watch the three dots blinking while he explains and hits enter.

That sounds melodramatic, I know.

I was sketching wasps yesterday between classes. Thinking about how there are some species where all of the females lay eggs, but then they kill each other’s offspring until only the queen’s eggs are left. The remaining larvae are fed meat. Then they spin their cocoons and transform. Six legs, two antennae, five eyes.

Last night my head was filled with cracking and popping. The white noise of a fan. Most wasps don’t see well in the dark. And they can’t see the color red.

Some wasps navigate by moonlight.

When the queen wasp dies, the colony continues.

The average life span of a queen is one year. The workers’ three weeks.

There are, however species of wasps that are solitary. These females have an average lifespan is six weeks.

And this is my process diary. Processing. Lately, the white noise here is deafening.

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  1. Sorry you’ve had more bad news come to you. Would letters rather than digital missives allow us to acclimatise better to the changing world? Sometimes I think so, because carrying that piece of paper around with us would somehow allow our fabric to change with it. Wasps make paper, after all.

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