Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A year passes since Linda left
My friend Max the drunken severed head looks a lot like me, has a wife with the same name, and his life is remarkably like mine. But he's turning over the blog to me, Max Cheney, for today, since I want to talk about something that has no jokes, and no horror--except, that is, for the genuine horror I feel right now.
Life has the power to frighten far more than the stories and images of terror often celebrated here. Today I am forced to face the horror that my friend Linda Miller passed away exactly one year ago.
Lives are measured in years; we celebrate birthdays and usually feel joy in them. So the one year anniversary of my friend's dying is powerfully painful to me. Now, her friends and family who loved her, when thinking of her, will measure backwards from her life as it recedes in nearness. Each annual remembrance will be more poignant because each year we grow closer to old age, a season in life that was denied Linda.
Her friends and family (and she felt her friends were family) won't forget her. Sometimes, in observing someone's death, people say nice things, often in lavish terms. You can tell they are self-editing, not talking about that person's flaws, failures or sins, yet they are thinking of them.
Yet I can say with full candor that Linda was remarkable for her lack of most of the common foibles--selfishness, self-pity, keeping grudges. The friends and family she left behind were amazed at her generosity, determination in the face of tragedy and violence, and patience with others. She looked for ways to like everyone, if there were some she didn't, she kept quiet about it and focused all the more on being thoughtful to as many people as she could, keeping herself balanced with her easy sense of humor, and passion for the arts and her art.
To commemorate her loves and her talent, I am sharing for the first time some early art of Linda's, found this summer by her mother. These were all done in the early 1980's, soon after Linda left high school. The pictures are not all of the best quality, some are photos and some are scans; the scans are sometimes just of part of the art, which was larger than the scanner.
First, a drawing of Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman from the film Midnight Cowboy.
Next, Laurence Olivier from Richard III.
A portrait of Rasputin.
An illustration of Carl Sandburg's poem Grass.
And last, a self-portrait, from a time when she had long hair.
I'm am pleased her art graced the latest issue of Scarlet: The Film Magazine. I know she would be.
Finally, as her friend and favorite author Ray Bradbury just celebrated his 89th birthday, I thought I'd also share a drawing she did in 2008 for a Bradbury foreword to an upcoming book on the Chandu films. Linda would be pleased with my sharing it, I think, even though she generally was fairly modest about her talent. It's a very well designed illustration, and it's interesting to see that she uncharacteristically made a stylized rendering of the fictional Chandu. It serves to better contrast with her affectionately flattering, yet photo-realistic portrait of Bradbury.
Halloween is coming, her favorite holiday, and mine, and of many who knew her. A day for celebrating the supernatural and our shared fascination with it.
I don't pretend to know anything about the supernatural, or even whether or not it exists. Linda believed, and as her friend, I believed in her. So for today at least, I have faith that Linda is out there somewhere, happy as autumn approaches. And on what otherwise I see as a horrible date on the calendar, that thought will cheer me all through the day, and through the night.
Coming this week: New pictures of Linda and the full article I wrote about her for SCARLET magazine, as well as regular posts on other subjects.