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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

That Time

Such strange occurrences--the person in question's therapist (whose husband I know very well from Al-Anon, and she also used to be my therapist for a short time) happened to be in a local coffee shop and hung close to me for a few minutes as I talked to my neighbor friend from Lompico; she was obviously listening to me as she rather slowly put fixings in her coffee.  Wonder what that was all about.  Hm.

Anyways, on to the task of the day: I went to the Ben Lomond Market for some mashed potatoes, weirdly to eat something that Asha might have liked (her last meal on earth was Chinese chicken salad, persumably from the deli--horrible to think about her buying it, not knowing this would literally be the last thing she ever ate--and she liked a "special meatloaf plate" from there also--the closest thing I could find was a dinner plate they make during the month; presumably they will serve it next month).  Part of my devotion to getting inside Asha's life a little can be seen in the fact that I am a nearly-vegan vegetarian, but I am going to sample a little of the meatloaf because I want to understand why she liked that particular thing.  Usually stuff like that which is heavily spiced, cooked, etc,, doesn't really taste like meat anyways, just...well, meatloaf.

The light is beginning to change in the San Lorenzo Valley, taking on that pale-white-and-golden aspect which I have seen nowhere else; I used to live in Watsonville and the quality of autumn light there is much more spectacular, a champagne-gold Rembrandt light.  Here in the Valley, the summer-falling-into-autumn light is also lovely, a harbinger of change.  Summer seems overlaid with a delicate veneer of autumn; the nights are a promise of colder weather to come.  This is a season of change: back to school, the smell of wax crayons and pencils and kindergarten alphabet paper in my life again with Thistle--the evocative going-back-to school scents and colors of a little girl's school supplies, denied forever for Richard, Asha, Anina, and all the people who loved them.

Anina would have been seven years old, seven going on eight. probably a second-grader by now.  To imagine what was lost, in bits and pieces, can eventually create the whole mosaic, the expanse, breadth, and depth of lost lives and all that ended with them.

This is how I step carefully into her life, as delicately as possible, as if touching my toes into deep, icy creek water.

Writers must do this sort of thing.

I drove to where McClish dumped Asha's car after searching on Google Maps last night--the place was much farther away than I thought, nearly at the junction of Love Creek Road, where the madman drove through the night to the place where he hid her body.  I kept feeling like Will Graham from Hannibal, saying "This is my design."  I now see how interesting that particular device is, to get an idea of the killer's motivation, get inside his head, a sense of how quickly he had to get rid of things: the area is rural, but not extensively so, and there are houses everywhere.  There could be no screams, no loud noises, nothing.  He took her to a place where she could not be heard.  Did she try to drive her car away, did he block her?  Why did no one hear anything?

Anyways, yes, the light these days has definitely changed, and it helps me to enter into that time: September, when Asha disappeared, almost without a trace.


Asking

I was researching legal documents last night on Justia and found information on Michael McClish, all right:  a motion dismissing his writ of habeus corpus at some point after he was convicted of rape. The document described the rape in full detail. His reason for attacking this woman?  Pardon my language, but Mr. Poster Boy for Adultery accused this woman, with whom he had a relationship, of "fucking someone else".

Great.  Once again, the idea of a person as a possession.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Going for the Center: Why Write Asha's Story?

I have a lot of anxiety over writing, something that I have struggled with since the time I began to write stories, when I was ten years old.  I used to ask my mother for notebooks, something she regarded as quite curious, because she was used to getting other things for my brothers and sisters.  Even though my stories were truly silly things, starting with poems about cats, and moving as I got older to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights derivatives (central character: governess who saves the day), I still had some anxiety over the story writing, or the ballpoint pen illustrations.

 I would give a lot to have those today.  A friend of mine from my undergrad years spent a hilarious Facebook chat with me as we went over the titles of our stories and poems from when we were in our late teens and early twenties (mine were pious little things, but his were great:  one play was called The Tender and the Blind, and it involved me, the main character, giving him--the other main character--a kiss on stage, because at that time, I did not want to kiss him in real life.  Then, at the end of the play, I would go out in the snow, metaphorically, lay down, and die. Nice (but okay, we were still basically teenagers). I was cracking up so hard when we talked about it that I couldn't see the keyboard.

As a writer, I always have to find my true north, or some version of it, early in the process.  I keep asking other people what I am doing, writing this.  It's been eight years since Asha died.   The murder has been long solved, though her killer maintains his innocence.  If he grants me an interview in Soledad, I want to look into his face and hear his alibi.  However, this is not why I want to write this, to  cast any doubt on the fact that he killed this woman.

I've taken endless walks and spent much time thinking about the heart of this story.  Then I remembered something by Michael Tierra, a local acupuncturist and a true healer, that approached some essence of this real-life tragedy.

Michael wrote this letter to the Santa Cruz Sentinel shortly after Asha's body was found:

Like many in our Ben Lomond community, I was profoundly saddened and shocked on learning about the death of Asha Veil the 28-year-old friendly checker at Ben Lomond supermarket and her 61/2-month old unborn infant, of which she was so happy and proud.

It is a sad testament of our times that many of us inhabit a world of fear and distrust. In that sense, Asha may have been of a passing world that at least, in our idealized imaginings, seemed safer. It is particularly disheartening to think that the very aspect of Asha's virtue, her innocent openness, exuding happiness and joy, may have attracted one to such a brutal act. It's the familiar tragic theme of despoiled innocence and virtue where in some twisted way one twisted individual tries to overpower another in a vain attempt to possess their soul, in this case two souls, Asha's unborn baby girl, through unconscionable murder.

Asha was an honest person and by all descriptions, a kind person (my dealings with her were all of kindness--I flashed on a memory the other day of the last time I saw her.  A little girl ahead of me was trying to buy gum and did not have the right amount of money, and Asha reached in her pocket and got the right change for her).  She was honest with her husband about her brief affair with McClish; she was honest with her support system also.  In truth, she truly had nothing to hide: she seemed neither secretive, nor dishonest, and incredibly resourceful.  On the other hand, McClish hid his affairs from his wife and maintained his double life by threat and violence, and then, ultimately, murdering someone who would detonate his cover by the mere fact that she was essentially asking him to take responsibility for his actions.  She cared about the well-being of her daughter above his "cover" and his story, and then the monster dropped his mask and destroyed them both.  I keep saying that her story is mythic, and it is, in a tragic and terrible sense.

So much of this book is trust that the process is going to go somewhere.  I have to admit that I am afraid and elated and feeling like I can't do it, and wanting to go full steam ahead all at the same time.  I feel both that I can't do it, and that I must do it.  

The trick is to just keep writing.




Resting

After waking unwell, I start wondering again why I am entertaining thoughts about returning to work.  Last night CG, forgetting about my eyesight, asked me to test a telescope lens for him. He suddenly pointed it at the kitchen light, which sent a needle of pain through my head. I fell asleep with a headache and woke with a migraine.

I feel better now, but concerned.  I dreamed last night that I was in a chemotherapy office, receiving Cytoxan, which is the strongest chemo protocol for my condition. I am not willing to trade my completely pain-free, illness-free existence right now for regression back. My body and mind have endured enough.

Could I be happy without my job? I realize I will have to give something up in order to raise Thistle and keep my health okay.  All that work (80 percent of which was grading for hours and hours each week) got to be too much.  I am a writer first. Even if I never publish a thing again, I am still a writer.

So, decisions. I know that, whatever comes, I will make use of what I decide and live with my choices.

I also am glad I planted the little rose to commemorate a baby I lost. It helps to go out and just look at it. I took the silver angel charm out because I did not want it to get ruined by watering, and did not want metal to leach in, as roses are very sensitive to such things. I put a tiny piece of rose quartz in, instead.

All that helps, a lot.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Roses

I am happy to say that the miniature yellow rose I bought yesterday is settling in nicely and should have a flower in a day or two. The unfurling bud has a very light, sweet tea rose scent, unusual for these minis. I will post a picture of the rose when it opens.

Two photos of the current late-summer roses:

Angel Face rose, water-spangled

Dreamweaver, Intrigue, Chicago Peace, and Angel Face taking a final bow before autumn



Bellydance Pictures

Here are some shots from my last bellydance show. I was so happy! Photos by Daev Roher.

I am extremely grateful to be in a place of my life where I am feeling healthy again and able to dance.

I have lost over 20 pounds since December.

Zaghareet for beautiful and graceful Inna!
Such a happy day!
During our slow and slinky moves, though you can't see it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Rose For An Angel

I found and planted a miniature yellow rose for Angel Devi Rose, the baby I miscarried in December 2009.  I found the yellow rose at Safeway, as I know they carry miniatures there. It was the very last yellow one.  I then went into the drugstore next door to try and find a pot. They had none (I did find one at another store), but the minute I walked in, the following song started playing over the store speakers (sorry about the idiotic ads that appear right at the beginning of the song):



A Fine Moment

My great achievement as a poet, getting into Poetry magazine (I still can't wrap my head around it all these years later), is now accessible via a link.  No matter whatever happens to me as a writer, this was a very proud moment.

Joan McMillan, Poetry, Sept 1998

Angel Devi Rose

















Writing about Asha Veil brings up my own feelings about my final miscarriage at age fifty in early December 2009.  When I write about Asha, I begin to cry from the deep well of a pregnancy loss I never really mourned.  For myself, these losses have carved a space of grief in me that all griefs spring from, forever. I think I am also connecting this to Richard Veil and the unimaginable grief of losing his wife and his precious little daughter.  I must come to these places in order to write Asha's story.

I was only briefly pregnant when I was 50.  I had a pregnancy scare a few months before and was frightened to tell my partner at the time; I had two positive pregnancy tests, but the second was a fainter line and I felt the pregnancy was not going to take, though I hoped.  I did not know what I would do.  It was a very shadowed time in my life where I felt that I would not be loved and supported in what would likely be a difficult pregnancy with attendant health problems.  I kept it a secret; I remember literally curling around myself in bed, as if trying to protect my womb and hold the baby.   I wish with all my heart I had told the father of this baby, but I was afraid of him since the earlier pregnancy scare, though I would never have admitted this to myself then.  I miscarried alone and told everyone I was having a very heavy period and needed to rest.  After that loss, my PMS, already legendary, became apocalyptic.

I have had two miscarriages other than that one, and a stillbirth.  All the miscarried babies were honored with names: Charles August (CG's and my baby, so wanted and so loved), and John Thomas (first miscarriage when I was 25, a very deep loss that really affected me and my husband).  My stillborn son, whom I saw briefly and had baptized, was named James Alan.  James I knew was a boy; the other babies were named for what I sensed.

I feel strongly that the baby I lost at 50 was a girl, and I have finally decided to honor and name her, so I have chosen the name Angel Devi Rose.  I think that is a pretty name, and roses figured largely in my time with her birth father. I also used to think sometimes that he looked like an angel. Devi is the name of the great mother-goddess, with many faces, aspects, and incarnations, and she is worshipped all over India.  This week, I will choose and plant a miniature yellow rose for her.  I have roses in my garden for all the pregnancies I lost: a delicate white-pink Angel's Wing rose for John Thomas, a miniature pink rose (unknown name) for Charles August, and an Angel Face rose for James Alan.

Yellow roses are also an important symbol for her birth papa, and so this will be to honor him also, even though he will not know about this.

I will plant Angel's rose in a nice container and put it next to the garden statue I have of a sleeping fairy. I might get a little angel statue for her flower pot.  It is all I can do, and I think it will put a little closure on one of the saddest times in my life.  It was a lonely loss, and yet I am glad there are still things I can do to honor this brief life.

This time of writing about Asha Veil and all the attendant, terrible losses is holding a mirror up to my own, and I think, though deeply emotional, it is a process where many old griefs can be honored.





Thursday, August 21, 2014

Valhalla

In Norse mythology, not only warriors went to Valhalla in the afterlife.  Women who died in childbirth also were allowed entry there, carried by the Valkyries, a reward for incalculable heroism.  I consider this tonight as I think of the son I gave birth to so long ago, laboring for twelve hours to bring him into the world, though I already knew he was dead, and had known for a few days. He would have been twenty-eight years old. Every grief I have had since then, and will have, arises from the wellspring carved by his brief life and his death. Time brings with it a way to hold such a grief with a measure of grace, I think.

The little shell in the picture was made for me by my friend Deborah; it was chipped in the Loma Prieta earthquake.  The obverse is a white, iridescent glaze.  This memento is all I have of him.


I have long had a very strong affinity with Dana Gioia's poems about his son, and so I will close with his poem, Planting a Sequoia, from his magnificent book, The Gods of Winter.

Planting a Sequoia

All afternoon my brothers and I have worked in the orchard,
Digging this hole, laying you into it, carefully packing the soil.
Rain blackened the horizon, but cold winds kept it over the Pacific,
And the sky above us stayed the dull gray
Of an old year coming to an end.

In Sicily a father plants a tree to celebrate his first son's birth -
An olive or a fig tree - a sign that the earth has one more life to bear.
I would have done the same, proudly laying new stock into my father's orchard,
A green sapling rising among the twisted apple boughs,
A promise of new fruit in other autumns.

But today we kneel in the cold planting you, our native giant,
Defying the practical custom of our fathers,
Wrapping in your roots a lock of hair, a piece of an infant's birth cord,
All that remains above earth of a first-born son,
A few stray atoms brought back to the elements.

We will give you what we can - our labor and our soil,
Water drawn from the earth when the skies fail,
Nights scented with the ocean fog, days softened by the circuit of bees.
We plant you in the corner of the grove, bathed in western light,
A slender shoot against the sunset.

And when our family is no more, all of his unborn brothers dead,
Every niece and nephew scattered, the house torn down,
His mother's beauty ashes in the air,
I want you to stand among strangers, all young and ephemeral to you,
Silently keeping the secret of your birth.

Dana Gioia

Tired; Sunflower

I am tired today after spending a lovely afternoon with my daughter and granddaughter.  There is a seasonal trolley here that runs to the beach in a loop around town, and we rode it, had a snack, etc.

I will close tonight with a picture of a sunflower and a bee which I took earlier this month.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rethink

Dear person who still has a problem about my (brief) need to be hospitalized on the Behavioral Health Unit (after I was sexually assaulted), and whose willingness to reveal it to the whole world is drifting back to me every few days.

Since you are making this very public now (really, take a tip from Frozen and let it go...I'm personally going to, because I'm tired of this), I can say just this:  yes, I am bipolar.  I have PTSD and have to be careful about that.  I spent a short time in the BHU for trauma after being hurt.  However, the problem I have doesn't have the potential to have me arrested and put in jail.  It requires medication, and it requires therapy, but it's something I can live with, even thrive with.  For that, I am immensely grateful.  It's similar, but worse, to the time when I learned to ice skate and did really well, considering I am in my 50s and didn't grow up skating.  What did I hear, though, nearly every time we went to the rink?  About the first time I skated and how horribly I did.  I could evolved into Peggy Fleming writing the entire text of War and Peace on the rink with the tip of my blades whilst en pointe, and still have heard that I did so badly the first time.

Just saying--people are doing the best they can, and it is not your place to provide a judgment on those who seek mental health treatment, even in a hospital.  You are not immune to needing such a place, either--nobody is.  I am not the only one with a serious condition that needs attending to.

Glass houses and stones do not mix.  We can all say bad things about each other, but there comes a time when that should stop, don't you think?

Pictures of Dance






I  have been very busy today cleaning out my office at the English department (I will be reassigned another if I return in Spring, which is what everyone wants me to do, if the reaction today was any indicator---lots of hugs and wishes for continued good health).  My work is like family to me, for which I feel very fortunate.

I have written another couple of pages on Asha and spent a couple of hours doing research; I'm trying to get everything into organized folders.  Amazing that, in the age of the Internet, all this research can be kept on a computer, so unlike towering stacks of paper, newspaper clippings, etc.  Perhaps I am entering the Digital Age after all.

Here are pictures of me dancing with Shekinah, the student ATS bellydance group in Santa Cruz.
I am in the green top and green skirt in both my pictures.  It was fun to put my hair in braids, a style I have not worn since I was a very young person!




Monday, August 18, 2014

dance day


Performed my first real performance in American Tribal Style bellydance, all improvisational.. I am exhausted..so much so that I did not remove my makeup until just now!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ugh

I had to spend twenty minutes today (captive audience) listening to a person going on about people who suffer from depression and what deficient people they are.  I couldn't help but think they were a perfect match for the person in question--they sounded alike, and are both right-wingers, one of them masquerading as left.  I mean, you can go on all you want about Republicans and the environment, etc., but show yourself to be devoid of compassion for the people who are truly in need, and I have no patience.  I hope time and perhaps experience with life teaches them lessons.  I know the person I listened to today is young, and a little scared and misinformed; the other one really should know better. I mean, not to judge, but how can you live like that?  How do you know life is not going to bring you to your knees, too?

Speaking of soulless voids (there is a continuum, and the following person is at the top of the scale), I opined with someone last night as to whether the woman Michael McClish killed was the first one.  He did get convicted of rape before he was convicted of the murder, and threatened that woman with a hatchet, dangled her over a ravine (he seemed to have a thing for ravines, I guess), etc.  I have to wonder and think about a couple of the unsolved murders of women in our county (Juanita Nelson comes to mind--she was in an early state of pregnancy when she disappeared, and detectives believe her body was dumped in a canyon, too.  They do think they have identified her killer, but have not named him.  He confessed to her murder, to two of his prison buddies).

The reason I wonder is because of how efficiently he killed Asha, dumped her body (insects on her body, hate to say, pinpointed that she died the same night she was missing), got rid of her backpack, etc..   Looking at phone records of when he checked in with his wife, and when Asha also spoke to a friend just before leaving her place of employment to talk to McClish, it took him only about 45 minutes to commit the crime, find a place to dispose of Asha's body, drive up to Quail Hollow Road, which is not a terribly short distance from Love Creek. considering that he was at the top of it, dump her backpack, and arrive home. There is a just-under-fifteen minutes window of silence between everyone's phone calls when the murder itself may have happened. Makes me wonder if Asha was not the first, given how calculating this all was...perhaps he had just been working it out for days.  He was seen beforehand near the place where he would later dump her body.  I thought tonight I would check missing-person files of women in Santa Cruz.

All speculation, perhaps all smoke, but part of writing a book like this.


Friday, August 15, 2014

To Work or Not

Readers, I am almost ready to create a poll as to whether my reading audience thinks I should go back to work in January 2015.  I am really scared.

In November 2013, within the course of three weeks, I had to leave my teaching job, was put on new meds for bipolar 2, went on chemotherapy for lupus (which had turned life-threatening), and then left someone I cherished and loved because of several unacceptable behaviors which I knew would never resolve.  It was not a breakup; it was an amputation for me, a total evisceration of my sense of reality and my sense of worth.  I am still recovering from it.  I feel love still for the person I left; I miss them; I often feel it was the wrong choice and that I should have insisted on counseling before making one of the most painful decisions of my life.  

At any rate, this post is not about him.  It is about returning to work.  Apparently I might have to have a work start time of 9 am, which is impossible for me with my level of disability.  I can ask for workplace accomodations, but I am getting the sense that the department is getting to be a pretty lousy, negative place, if not the entire university.  I have to go clean out my office on Monday as I will be reassigned to another one in January.  It is almost a sign that I can clean out, and get out, while I can.

The truth is, I suspect my good state of health right now is due to not working.  I do have some steady income other than what I get from the university, and I will get an adoption stipend for Thistle which is fairly substantial.   CG has promised us that he will help us when he gets back to work (he is doing contract work) but honestly, the man has no health insurance, no life insurance, no will, nothing.  Not to diss him, but he is 53 and lives like he's 18, and the situation is frightening because he will be Thistle's legal parent, but has done nothing to insure her well-being if something happens to him.  One of my machinations for his co-adoption (other than the fact that he loves her and really helps raise her) is that she will be his sole heir, and at least the house we live in (which is his) can be sold and the money go to her.  I doubt I would get anything, even though I am Thistle's legal mother as of October.

This, by the way, is why marriage to CG is out of the question for me, even though we will have a child together to raise.  This behavior is emblematic of someone who cares a lot, but not enough, despite all the wonderful things he does for us.  Believe me, the image of Thistle and I being literally cast out into the world with nothing is very frightening, and a very real possibility that keeps me up at night.  It is the reason I have kept my little house on the mountain for a long, long time:  we have literally nowhere to go otherwise if something happens to CG.  It is entirely possible that he will come to his senses, but in the 12 years I have known him, those are his biggest blinders.  I hope this does not cast a negative image on a person who has done so much for me:  I often describe him as a prince, someone who should have been the head of a dynasty: he is kind, fair, commanding, highly intelligent, and a very great-hearted person.  He just has a major blind spot which probably should not exist now that he will legally become a father in October.

So, I have a Hobson's choice all round.  Work, and have a bit more money (about three hundred dollars' worth--to me, a low-income person, that is a fortune), but potentially worsen my chronic illness.  Don't work, and try to pay into Obamacare because frankly, MediCal sucks, and I need to make sure I always have excellent healthcare.  I would have time to write my book, concentrate on dance, and be with Thistle.  I will never work a formal job again if I leave my university job, as I will retire at that point. 

I wish I did not get into these situations.  However, I have been disabled with lupus since I was 33 years old, and did not work again until I was in my mid-forties.  It has limited many of my choices in life, in terms of employment and money.

Still, I would rather be poor than dead, and leave Thistle without me, because I am the one person in the world she has ALWAYS had steadily, and abandoning her because I arrogantly think I am not mortal is food for thought.  We give our life up for our children and put them ahead first, always.

Perhaps I just answered my own question.


Driving Ben Lomond

I am still very sad over Robin Williams' death.  Today, his family stated that he was in early-stage Parkinson's.  Plus, his heart surgery apparently contributed to his depression.

He was human, like every one of us.

I will probably write more about him as time goes on.  It is all such a tragedy.  He was certainly in a very high-risk category.

The terrible events in our country right now, especially in Ferguson, weigh so heavily on me.  I fear for our young people (the young man murdered in Ferguson was on his way to college and so excited to be getting an education.  His family has emphasized that he was not a troublemaker in any way.  I am heartbroken for his family and friends, and the horror of what our country is coming to).

Perhaps writing about this young woman's death eight years ago might help shine some light in the world.  I drove through Ben Lomond tonight, up to the turnout at Love Creek Road, also through Asha's neighborhood.  She chose a place to live that was quite near the McClish household.  I wonder if that was deliberate, or just chosen because it was close to work, or both.  I am not sure she really had an ongoing relationship with McClish--seems to me the fling with him was a very limited event.  Apparently Mr. Wonderful wanted her to have an abortion, was truculent and angry with her, etc.  Have to delve into more court records and such before I start to try and talk to people.  I am going to start with people I actually know and fan out from there, keeping in mind always that this book is for Asha, Anina, and Richard, even if I weave my own experiences into it.

I was a single mother briefly with my eldest son before becoming one full-time in 1993, and some of my memories have been triggered by being in Asha's neighborhood.  As he did in 1993, the father of my son refused to pay child support; I had no car, no money, and a little boy to take care of.  I applied for a teacher's aide job at the local middle school (I walked to the interview after arranging a babysitter at my home).  I had not worked in some time, but had experience from work in the same field when I first came to Santa Cruz.  I thought I had nailed the interview, and the school was just a short walk from where I live.  I had also arranged daycare for him; I took the bus to an in-home daycare (run by a wonderful woman whom I came to know later), and then to a local children's center, the very same one Thistle attends today, albeit at a different site.  I enrolled him in the children's center and waited, sure I would get the job--which I did not.

I was terrified, broke, and did not want to tell my family in Los Angeles about all the stuff going on with me.  I ended up going on welfare and food stamps, and this kept a roof over our heads.  I still had childcare for my son; it turned out I could work one afternoon a week at his school and get one afternoon of childcare free.

Being taken back to those days begins to force me to look at the role domestic violence has played in my life, even to the present day.  I can look at the fear of those early years now with some detachment.  I was a 23 year old trying to be on my own with the child whose life I had sworn to protect, and did, honestly, not a very good job of...but he has grown to be a fine man, anyways.

I guess my point tonight is that I am trying to remember what it was like to be afraid, alone, and pregnant, as I was at 22 here in Santa Cruz.  Asha was so lucky to have a husband who adored her and who said he would have raised the child no matter who the father was.  I wish I had known there were such good people in the world, back then.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

National Talk Line/Suicide Prevention Line

I would like to share a resource tonight, and that is all for the evening.  I am dipping into some very sad, shadowed material as I research my book.  I went down the street where Asha used to live, and it was so pretty, just a simple rural road with nice houses and gardens along the way, a cliff with a sandy slip-out (there are a lot of small sandhills in the area, and a major one not too far away), and, of course, redwoods and maples I am starting to get a feel for how she lived, what she saw every day, and want to do these things before I approach people who knew her.  It is sad and I have to withdraw from Asha's story and be gentle with myself for the next few days, as Robin Williams' suicide has really, really saddened me.  My grandfather, a successful actor and stuntman, killed himself at 63, in the same way as Williams, and though I have had years of therapy over it, I connect at the heart level with the loneliness and the sense of pain that must be with someone at the brink.

The National Talk Line/Suicide Prevention Line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You will be connected with a trained counselor and you do not have to be in a crisis to talk.

1-800-273-TALK

National Talk Line/Suicide Prevention Line