"(We've) created an artificial world ruled by speed and efficiency, optimized production and consumption... We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation and reflection."
- Nicholas Barr, What the Internet is doing To Our Brains
Another memorial to a fallen friend. Another afternoon of tears and laughter, nostalgia and pain. Haven't we had enough of these yet?
By the time you read these words, the party will be long over. Another Whistler Pique family wake. Can you believe it? Marlene is no more. That great font of happy wisdom; that enthusiastic lover of all things great and small. Max's Perfect Partner. The woman we learned to admire and trust through the word-prism of his weekly missives. GD's muse. His friend. His best and greatest critic. So sad. So hard to say goodbye.
Why? Why now?
I knew she'd been fighting a fierce battle with cancer. I knew her chances of success were less than promising. But I had so much faith in Marlene's zest for life that I refused to see the truth. I even ignored it back in March when we got together for dinner. She looked great, I thought. She wasn't going to die. She was going to beat the odds and live.
I was wrong.
And now she's gone. But as moving as it is, the story of Marlene's final journey can only hold our attention for so long. Most of us will have gone back to our daily grind by now. Time marches on and all that. I mean, it's not like we can all put our lives on hold and mourn her passing for weeks. Right?
But for those touched personally by this tragic turn of events, the journey has only just begun.
Believe me, I know.
So weird to see old Max join our little bereaved men's club too. Three for three. It's like some bizarre novel written by a cruel god. Who will be next? Who will next feel the pain of this crazy story maker?
And I can't help but reflect back on a much happier get-together. Can't help but think that time has been a harsh mistress for those who dined with me that night...
The year is 2007. The event is the annual Pique Christmas dinner at La Rúa and there are six of us at the head table: Bob and Kathy, Max and Marlene, Wendy and me. We're playing the magazine "elders" this evening. But none of us feel particularly old. We feel invincible.