Returning to my blog after some years away, I am publishing a personal post on the death of my sister, a bridge over my recent silence.
This is a blog about mysteries, about murder mysteries, and so, in its way, about death. The great mystery writer, Dorothy L.Sayers, as we all know, gave up writing murder mysteries at the time of the second world war, disturbed at the thought of entertaining through murder when the world was absorbed in killing on a massive scale. I have always felt some uneasiness myself with the use of murder for entertainment, and yet I have often read murder mysteries for my own amusement (though I have never been actually amused by horror), and I have even written murder mysteries myself.
But in the last few years I have been dealing with death in my own family, not murder certainly: My only sister died slowly of a rare lung disease, and I found it impossible during this time either to write or read for pleasure the literature of murder. I am emerging from this time, and I will go back to thinking again analytically about murder mysteries, if only because they are such a major feature of the reading, TV and movie entertainment of our times. One can surely ask oneself why this is and I am going again to take up this question.
But first, I am going to take up the question of my sister’s death. When people are dying of “natural causes” we do not talk about murder of course. But dying of “natural causes” rarely seems natural to the people who are going through it, and I have lived in the last couple of years with questions of how the individual deals with “natural dying,” and how society deals with the dying individual. Here is my story of how I experienced my sister’s last years, when I was traveling back and forth between New York City and a nursing home in Caerleon, South Wales.
A Book that Explains Everything
In memory of my sister, Marjorie, who died on February 23 a year ago. She didn’t live to see spring last year. The photograph was taken in her own last spring.