A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 100: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 41

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series soon.

The final chapter, “The Scribe,” opens with comments about the end of the Red-Ship war that trail off, revealing themselves to be in Fitz’s retrospective hand. His “current” circumstances are noted; he and Nighteyes have been joined by a foundling, Mishap, brought to them by Starling on one of her irregular visits to where man and wolf have made a quiet, lonely life for themselves, and taught by Fitz as best as he is able.

An apt enough image, really.
FitzChivalry by Calealdarone on DeviantArt, used for commentary

How others in the narrative fare also receives attention. Patience has taken over Tradeford, which has become an agricultural hub. Burrich and Molly live well, having had more children together and started breeding horses. Kettricken was delivered of a prince, Dutiful, who seems to be growing well if solemnly. Chade has emerged into the public eye and seems to be enjoying it greatly.; he is the subject of Starling’s major work, with which she is pleased.

The Fool was delivered to Buckkeep by Girl-on-a-Dragon, who joined the work of the other roused dragons against the Red Ships. He did not remain long, but fled.

As for Fitz, he and Nighteyes spent years wandering before returning to Buck Duchy and taking up residence near Forge. Fitz cannot help but reach out with the Skill, despondently, and he continues to take drugs to number himself to that pain. And, as the text ends, he and Nighteyes dream of carving dragons.

I wish I could take credit for having had the foresight to plan things such that the end of the book–the end of the Farseer trilogy–and the first hundred entries of this rereading series coincide as they do. It was pure chance, however; I am not prudent enough to undertake such planning, as my efforts at fiction attest. That is not to say I am not pleased by the coincidence, but it is only that.

As I read the chapter again, I find myself once again feeling contented. The ending reads as satisfying, even as it does set up more material for more work to come; Dutiful’s reign and the Fool’s flight both foretell works following them, the which Hobb delivers and to which I will turn soon enough. (I am going to take the holiday weekend off, however.) But the sense that the world continues after the events of the novel adds to the verisimilitude that marks so much of Hobb’s work; even in apocalyptic situations, things continue afterward, and the apocalypse seems to have been averted for the Six Duchies. Nor is it the case that things are always happy and pleasant for those who work toward such ends, as my day-job shows me all too clearly, and the fact that Fitz endures, largely alone, wracked by his competing addictions, while not necessarily comfortable, seems more true than would be the case if he returned so quickly to glory and honor as other novels might have had him do.

The project is not the “Farseer Reread,” though, but the “Robin Hobb Rereading,” and there are more works, not only in the Elderlings corpus, but outside it. Next, I’ll start in on the Liveship Traders novels–after Memorial Day, which I plan to spend with family. But it’ll only be a short break, after all…

Could you help me mark the Monday holiday?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 99: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 40

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The penultimate chapter, “Regal,” opens with “The Catalyst comes to change all things” before moving to Fitz and Nighteyes wearily surveying the aftermath of the dragons’ battle. As they consider what to do next, they find Will, still alive though near to death. Fitz delves into him through the Skill, seeking his connection to Regal so he can make one final attempt on the man.

The image fits, even if the book is wrong.
Assassin’s Apprentice by DiKra on DeviantArt, used for commentary

Fitz finds Regal numbed by drugs against pain and tremors and raging in jealousy at Verity. Fitz Skills into Regal, then returns to his own body. There, he keeps vigil over Will until the other man dies. And after, Fitz and Nighteyes begin to wander.

He reports what he perceives of the efforts Verity and the other dragons undertake against the Red-Ship Raiders and the islands of their homes. Kettricken and Starling are delivered safely to Buckkeep, where Patience greets them. Then Verity goes out to face his foes in person, devastating them with the fury of his attacks before the other wakened dragons join him in an orgy of destruction that continues into the fall.

Regal, notably, lends his full aid and support to Kettricken, enacting many favorable changes as he steps aside in favor of her and Verity’s heir whom she carries. And he dies from an attack by a large rat soon after.

Honestly, the present chapter seems a good enough place to end the book. The major plot-lines are completed, the peace of the Six Duchies appears to be restored, and a time of rebuilding is promised. Were it a more “normal” fantasy novel, that might well be the end of it–but Fitz is not a “normal” fantasy protagonist, as I have argued in more than one place, and so it makes sense that another ending might be in order.

If I look at the novel as belonging to the Tolkienian tradition, though, I find that Fitz overlaps a bit with Frodo in the chapter. He appears to renounce (specific forms of) violence, and he steps aside from acclaim rather than seeking what could well be called his due. It is not an exact parallel, of course; it could hardly be expected to be so. But it does offer a nice little touchstone back to the prevailing fantasy tradition in which Hobb writes (with differences, certainly). And that is not the least helpful of things.

It’ll help me if you send a little my way.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 98: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 39

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The following chapter, “Verity’s Dragon,” opens with a note about the mistakes made in Tradeford’s dealings with the Red-Ship Raiders. It moves thence to Verity kissing Kettricken goodbye, making ready to enter his dragon along with Kettle. There is a final conference about what is to follow; Verity will return Kettricken to Buckkeep, Starling accompanying her, while Fitz and Nighteyes remain apart. Fitz knows he cannot risk returning to Buck, having already been executed once. The Fool obstinately determines to remain with Fitz, as well, though Fitz is suspicious of the Fool’s reasons.

It’s a good look. Verity-as-Dragonby John Howe, from The Plenty, here, and used for commentary

Farewells made, Verity and Kettle enter the dragon. The dragon wakes, rises, and takes Kettricken and Starling on its back before speeding off to Buck. Fitz watches them go, then misses the Fool, who has gone to Girl-on-a-Dragon. The Fool realizes the impossibility of waking that unfinished statue and agrees to help Fitz pack for a return to Jhaampe. Fitz makes to retrieve pack animals, only to be informed by Nighteyes that they are under attack.

Burl assails the Fool, and Nighteyes assails Burl in turn. Spilling the blood and calling through the Wit awaken Girl-on-a-Dragon at last, carrying the Fool away as Burl dies. And Will attacks Fitz, in turn, Regal guiding him and summoning the strength of additional coteries of Skill-users to help press the attack on Fitz in anticipation of carving his own dragons to become the savior of the Six Duchies and the conqueror of the Mountain Kingdom–and other lands yet. More soldiers join the fracas, and Girl-on-a-Dragon returns to assail Regal’s forces.

Will flees, and Fitz and Nighteyes take the opportunity provided by the dragon’s return to stake out a likely avenue of further flight. Their stakeout is rewarded; they intercept but do not stop Will as he makes to flee through a Skill-pillar, and they are dragged along with him. Melee resumes, and Fitz and Nighteyes hold their own admirably, but they soon reach their limits.

Again, though, blood and the work of the Wit awaken one of the carved dragons, which acts towards Fitz and Nighteyes as a hunter in the same group. Fitz and Nighteyes realize the trigger for the dragons’ awakening, and they rush to rouse the other dragons, marshaling them to their aid and Verity’s. They send the Fool, still astride Girl-on-a-Dragon, to lead the others to Verity and remain behind where the dragons had been.

The end of the book is fast approaching at this point, and it makes sense that matters would seem to rush towards completion therefore. Fitz does seem to do better in the fight than would be expected, especially given the injuries described and the tendency earlier in the novel to have him suffer from his wounds. Adrenaline and the strange workings of multiple magics may be accepted as explanations, however; dragons awakening and consuming life more directly than as food has to have some other effects that might well not be noticed in the moment and ill-remembered afterwards.

And I had something I was going to write, but it escapes me at the moment…

I could still use your help to keep doing this.


A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 97: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 38

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The following chapter, “Verity’s Bargain,” begins in a note regarding the inland Duchies’ experience of the Red-Ship raids before moving into the party facing an end to their efforts and lives. Fitz contemplates their mortality before dozing off.

Ah, for such quiet nights, but such are not to be…
Fitz, Nighteyes, and the Fool by Lady Frickinda onDeviantArt, used for commentary

He is wakened by Verity looming over him. Fitz accompanies his king to confer about possible next steps, and Fitz volunteers to give himself over utterly in exchange for a final vision of Molly. Verity reluctantly agrees, and Fitz sees Molly tend to Burrich before the two confess their acceptance of Fitz’s death and their mutual love. Then Verity takes Fitz.

It is not what Fitz had expected. Rather than pulling his life from him to put it into the dragon, Verity exchanges bodies with Fitz, who hobbles around in the older man’s form. Nighteyes inquires after the event, and the Fool greets him, taking a bit to recognize him. Once again, the Fool is drawn towards the statue of a girl on a dragon, on which he has been working as Verity and Kettle have on their dragon. Fitz gives some of his pain and memory to the same, earning successive remarks and rebuke from the Fool, Nighteyes, and Kettle. The last quickly recognizes what Fitz has done for Verity and commends him for it.

After, Verity returns to Fitz, and the two consider each other before Verity puts them back in their right bodies. They confer, Verity noting that Kettricken will bear his heir and the Farseer line be preserved. He moves off to consider what he has been able to recall, while Fitz makes to wash. In the wake of it, Starling approaches him. She reiterates her offer from before, and, after some hesitation, he accepts it.

In the wake of their intimacy, Nighteyes reminds Starling of the Wit-bond as they make to return to the group to quicken Verity’s dragon.

It is clear that the book is hastening towards its end and the trilogy’s in the present chapter. Similarly clear is the setup for a sequel series; engendering an heir, particularly through magical means, portends more to come. And the narrative function is far from opaque, as well; the chapter reads like a pause before a headlong rush into other action, not setup for Freytag’s climax–that is long past, both in the book and in the trilogy–but rather a juxtaposition of contemplation and gentler humanity with much less pleasant, much less human and humane things to come.

Because there are, after all, still foes on approach, as well as a greater threat that is treated in the Asimov-invoking chapters’ openings and that still needs to be addressed. The Raiders are yet raiding, and stopping them was the whole point of Verity’s expedition and the sacrifice he is making…

Throw a little bit my way?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 96: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 37

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The next chapter, “Feeding the Dragon,” opens with a note about the progress of the Red-Ship raids against the Six Duchies, with raids striking into the central regions of the kingdom while few troops remained to repel them. It continues with Verity and Fitz returning to the party, which has anxiously awaited them. Nighteyes exults in Fitz’s return and in being able to convey need to Kettricken. Kettle reveals that Verity had taken her to the Skill-river to enhance her power, at which Fitz grows jealous and protests his treatment.

The Fool’s fixation…
Girl on a Dragon by Crooty on DeviantArt, used for commentary

Reports of events and findings are exchanged, and the party deploys itself in response to the new information. Fitz tries to get more information from Verity and Kettle about the dragon, and they answer as they are able, but words do not suffice, and Skilling is too perilous in the circumstances to attempt. Kettle does note to Fitz, though, that Verity refuses to give him to the dragon, despite Fitz’s offer and Verity’s ability.

Less comfortably for Fitz, she also notes to him that he does have memories of his mother, despite his protestations. She also notes to him that Molly is beyond his reach, now, and ever after, the time in their lives when they could have loved as they did having passed. Fitz grows angry with the news and moves to confront Verity, who takes the anger from him and puts it into the dragon. Fitz is left with a better understanding of things in the wake of it. Verity also thanks Fitz for helping him to feel again, to have food for the dragon he carves with Kettle.

Stymied, Fitz retires for the night. The next day, he hunts with little success with Nighteyes and Kettricken, though they fish successfully. After, realizing that Verity has stopped work, Fitz rushes to his king’s side, the rest of the party joining. But though the carving is done, the dragon does not quicken, and Verity despairs. He and Kettle soon fall to sleep, exhausted by their work, leaving Fitz and the others to tend to them.

The comments in the present chapter about the insufficiency of words are interesting to read, coming from an author, whose craft depends entirely on the appropriate arrangement of words. Hobb writes in other places about the importance of getting words right, as I have discussed elsewhere, so it is perhaps surprising to have the admission that words are not enough.

But that it is a surprise does not mean it is untrue, of course. Words are slippery, for one thing. Back when I had students to teach and thought I could do well at that work, I would talk with them about such things, looking at the word “blue” and noting the many meanings it has even when restricted to color. That there is so much variation in so simple a word shows that there is space within words as between them, and much lingers in those spaces.

And there is this, too: Hobb writes in a milieu that admits of forces and powers not present in the readers’ world. We who read her work do not have access to the phenomena at work in the Six Duchies; we do not have the experience of things that would allow us to understand words that fit them. It works well, thus, that there are not words given for what happens.

Help me give the mothers in my life a good weekend?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 95: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 36

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The next chapter, “The Wit and the Sword,” opens with a gloss of the history between the Six Duchies and the Out Islands, naming the leader of the Forging Red-Ship Raiders: Kebal Rawbread. It moves into Verity’s refusal of Fitz’s assistance in carving the dragon; Verity knows Fitz does not know what he offers and refuses him on those grounds. A following exchange leaves Fitz ashamed as Verity and Kettle leave off work for the day.

That’ll sting.
drawing 4 from Fitz and Fool coloring book by AlexBerkley on DeviantArt, here, and used for commentary

As Fitz checks up on the rest of the party, he finds himself drawn to check in on Molly and Burrich through the Skill. He finds them in the midst of an attack, and while Burrich defends them as adeptly as could be hoped, he is one man against many. Molly, however, uses her knowledge of bees and their ways to drive off the attackers in fear, saving Burrich and Nettle. Verity pulls Fitz away from the unintended Skilling with more words of caution.

The next morning sees Fitz and the Fool confer before they, Nighteyes, and Kettricken go out into the surrounding woods to gather supplies. When they return with fish and firewood, they find that Verity and Kettle have made progress on the dragon, and Verity summons Fitz to him to begin a task. He is to return through the standing stones–Skill-pillars–to the garden where the other carved dragons rest, there to attempt to rouse them.

Fitz goes, and he finds that the dragons seem more to have alighted where they rest than to have been carved in place. While he is about that work, he spies some of Regal’s forces and realizes his peril and Verity’s. Fitz makes to eliminate the immediate peril, setting a trap for the soldiers that have come. One falls to his machinations, and another to a suddenly arrived Verity, who accepts the surrender of the third, tasking him to herald is imminent return. The soldier, Tag, flees on the errand, and Fitz and Verity return to the quarry.

There are another few instances of deus ex machina in the chapter, both occasioned by Verity–his emergence from the Skill-pillar and his resharpening of his sword. The latter, at least, receives some lampshading in Verity’s comment that he “should have known [he] could do that,” so it does not rankle as much as might otherwise be expected, even aside from the issues about the device noted in the previous entry in this series.

Perhaps more important is the reconnection to the greater narrative milieu the chapter presents. Much of the discourse of Hobb’s novels hinges on foreshadowing and precognition, and both the names Kebal Rawbread and Tag, son of Reaver, first noted in the present chapter, factor into future novels in the series. It might be remarked, somewhat cynically but not without merit, that Hobb is setting up for sequels to a trilogy that should be bounded and contained (and the Farseer trilogy does work well as an isolated thing), but it is something that makes sense within the greater context of the narrative milieu.

And it is good to have more to read.

Help me celebrate Star Wars Day?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 94: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 35

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The chapter that follows, “Kettle’s Secrets,” begins by commenting briefly on the Witness Stones outside Buckkeep Castle. It moves thence into Verity’s return to work; Fitz and the Fool return to the statue of the girl on the dragon. It registers oddly to Fitz’s Wit, and the Fool touches the statue with his Skill-impressed fingertips. It goes badly for him, and Kettle rebukes them both harshly when she arrives there shortly afterwards. When Fitz rebukes her, in turn, Kettle demurs slightly.

He’s got the touch; he’s got the power…
Silver Fingers by AlexBerkley on DeviantArt, here, and used for commentary.

After Fitz tends to the Fool, he reports to Verity and Kettricken, who sits beside him while he continues to scrape at the statue he has made. As Fitz reports, Verity leaves off his work and resumes more of himself, which appears to hearten Kettricken, in turn. The rest of the group joins them as Fitz continues his account, and Verity notes, somewhat absently, that Regal listens through the Fool.

Fitz pleads with Verity for aid in the wake of the revelation; Verity denies it as irrelevant and reaffirms his need to complete the dragon alone. Kettle argues against the stance, noting that dragon-making has been collaborative in the past. She also declares her true self and circumstances, to some disbelief. Verity directs Fitz to assist Kettle, and he attempts it unsuccessfully.

The Fool joins the two, putting his Skill-stained flesh to the task. In a glorious communion that takes in Fitz, the Fool, Nighteyes, and Kettle–who has resumed her former name of Kestrel–Fitz helps her to free herself from the punishment that has been imposed upon her. In the wake of it, Kestrel aids Verity’s work, and Fitz and the Fool confer. Fitz purposes to join his king in the work.

Of particular note in the present chapter is the revelation of the titular Kettle’s secrets. While Hobb does do much to foreshadow that the old woman knows much, the specifics of the reading do threaten to come off as something of a deus ex machina, which can easily be taken as an annoyance by readers. Of course, the Elderlings novels partake heavily of the Tolkienian fantasy tradition, even if other antecedents work more strongly in them, and so they partake of the medieval European. As such, they fall under a rubric about which I have written before, one that admits of a tradition that readily invokes such a device. And while the direct comparison between a novel of some heft and episodes of a children’s cartoon may be a bit of a stretch, that does not mean the underlying idea is a bad one. Namely, although Hobb’s Elderlings novels do not operate in an analogue of medieval Europe, they emerge from and participate in a tradition that showed up abundantly during that period–as Douglas A. Anderson points out in Tales before Tolkien and that many others have pointed out at length and eloquently–so that the presence of something like a deus ex machina is not a reason to take on a particular literary atheism.

It’s May Day!
I’m not in distress;
Help me keep it that way!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 93: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 34

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The next chapter, “Girl on a Dragon,” begins with notes about the dearth of Skilled people to aid Verity before moving into an interruption of discussion. The Fool touched Verity’s Skill-overlain flesh, and Kettle tends to the Fool, directing Fitz to attend to Verity. Fitz does so, learning more from Verity about the work he has been doing to carve his dragon. When Kettricken enters and embraces her husband, Fitz is called away.

King Verity Farseer and Queen Kettricken by ElenaSilvagni on DeviantArt, here, and used for commentary

While Kettricken and Verity confer, the rest of the party and Fitz talk. The Fool is altered by his contact with Verity, his fingertips marked with the Skill that suffuses Verity’s hands and arms, and the implications of that marking are noted. Kettricken and Verity emerge from their tent, and Verity begins to eat in a way that shows it has been long since he did so. Kettle announces that they will remain on site to assist Verity, his success being the only hope the Six Duchies has in its current crisis.

As the evening draws on, the Fool relates to Fitz what he learned from his contact with Verity. The idea is that Verity will carve and waken his dragon, going thence to fight the Red-Ship Raiders alone. The dragons themselves, the Fool understands to be the Elderlings of Six Duchies legend.

That night, Fitz wakes early at Nighteyes’s insistence; Kettricken has been gone longer than she ought. They find her with ease, and Kettricken confides in Fitz the sadness she feels at the current situation. She does so near the carved image of a girl on a dragon, and Fitz feels something taken from himself suddenly.

After, Fitz speaks with the Fool again, who is testing the limits of his new abilities. They confer about their situation and the Fool’s plan to visit the girl on a dragon. The Fool also reports to Fitz much of what had led to Regal’s efforts to gain the quarry and the power dormant therein.

There is an interesting bit in the present chapter: the comments that dragons are Elderlings. It is an issue that will come up in later novels in the corpus, and it is the case that some of the ideas established in Assassin’s Quest come up for reinterpretaion. That is to be expected as narrative milieus evolve under their authors’ pens; Tolkien’s own work was hardly immune to it, as his son’s editorial comments make clear, and the successive editions of rules-sets for the tabletop roleplaying games that account for so much engagement with fantasy and medieval/ist ideas are also indications of change in progress. Still, one of the pleasures of doing a rereading is that things remembered from earlier readings are reconfirmed, and writing about them in such wise as this helps to fix them in memory, allowing for more work later on.

Things are tight here as in many places. If you can throw a little bit my way, I’d be obliged.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 92: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 33

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The next chapter, “The Quarry,” opens with notes about old tales from the Mountain Kingdom that depict ancient creatures of power. It moves on to skip several days, until Fitz’s party reaches the quarry of the title; the remains of the work once done therein stand as ruined cyclopean altars to masons long dead. They begin to make camp as Kettricken despairs of finding Verity, and Nighteyes finds a corpse. Investigation reveals it is one of Regal’s coterie, Carrod, killed through the Skill–but still in the quarry.

Verity’s Dragon by Sassar on DeviantArt, here, and used for commentary

The party begins to search out the quarry more thoroughly, finding partly-completed carvings of dragons. They also find Verity at last, and Kettricken has to be held back from rushing to him and immolating herself in the embrace of his power. Verity is haggard and distracted, and Kettricken flees from him under the weight of her own emotions; Nighteyes follows her. The Fool sets about setting up camp, enlisting Starling to help; Fitz confers with Verity as best he can, getting little information from his king but giving him a lengthy and detailed report in his turn.

Conversation makes clear that Verity is focused on carving his dragon, to the exclusion of eating and sleeping. Kettle and Fitz prevail upon Verity to take a short break from the task and attend to himself for Kettricken. And as the traveling party confers during the preparations, Kettle makes clear the scope of Verity’s still-incomplete achievement, as well as the likely threat to it that Carrod had posed as he died.

The idea of the call of the Skill as addiction seems to push itself forward as I read the chapter once again; Verity’s sleepless fixation on his task and the vagueness of mind that accompany it align with what I see from some of the people I help serve in my day-job, at least. And, as I write this entry in the midst of the coronavirus (I and mine are well as I write this, thank you, though my wife and I both count as working “essential services,” so we are not able to stay at home, really), I cannot help but see a parallel to current circumstances. Many people are fixated on the novel coronavirus, not without cause, and such has affected my sleep and eating, as well as others’. Nor am I immune to vagueness in the present situation, as I am probably making clearer than I ought as I write this entry.

It is, of course, not entirely appropriate to read the text against today when it was written more than twenty years ago, now. It cannot be responding to what had not yet then happened. But it is not entirely inappropriate, either; one of the values of any work of art is that it does speak beyond the circumstances of its own composition. And if it is the case that I am the target audience for such a text now as I likely was then, that does not mean I do poorly to hear what it says now, even against a different background noise.

Help me and mine keep on going?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 91: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 32

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

A chapter titled “Capelin Beach” follows. It begins with a brief comment about the Wit before moving into the party’s progress. It is not pleasant; the Fool is particularly annoying under the effects of elfbark. Kettle again assumes authority over Fitz and seeing to his mental stability.

A bond, indeed.
Evergreen by Lalawu29 on DeviantArt, here, used for commentary

When, at one point, the party stops, Nighteyes relates to Fitz that Kettricken has spoken to him through the Wit. After, the Fool makes conversation with Fitz, asking after Molly. Fitz notes a town near where she currently lives, after which the Fool seems to pass out; Fitz takes it for a game and stalks off. It soon after emerges that it was no game; the Fool was asleep and, when roused, was addled. Starling asks Fitz about the matter, and Fitz notes his conversation with the Fool. Nighteyes comments thereupon through the Wit, and Fitz realizes some of the import of what the Fool had said to him many times before.

Fitz makes to confer with the Fool again, laying out something like a final will and testament. The conversation reveals that the Fool had not been the earlier interlocutor, at least not consciously; he reports having been somewhat distant from what he thought a speech in dream. Nighteyes opines on the connection among them and makes a suggestion that the Fool answers, confirming the strength of the bond.

There is perhaps something elegaic in Fitz’s recognition of the carpe diem principle. He knows at this point that his survival is not expected–not that he has necessarily been expected to survive a great many things previously, and irrespective of the fact he has been dead. The realization or reminder throws into stark relief the times he had pushed things aside in favor of tending to them tomorrow, not from simple procrastination, but because he allowed other things to matter more in the moment. Admittedly, there were many times his task at hand demanded full and immediate attention, but it was not always so, not by any means.

Rereading once again overly affectively, I have to consider the times I have made similar decisions. I have been better about it than I might have been, I know, and I have been better about it than many in my positions have been, but I have not seldom set aside time with family in favor of working time or in favor of some other kind of activity. And if it has been the case many times that my presence made things far less enjoyable than they might otherwise have been–I am curmudgeonly, and it has been remarked that “nobody can have a bad time like Geoff can”–it has also been the case many times that I have not bothered to try. More and more, I regret it, as I do many things. Nor do I expect that I am alone in that regret.

Send a little somethin’ my way?