Messages in the Medium

1907 - 2007It's been a muddled and gloomy week, but I guess that's to be expected. My grandmother was just a few months shy of 100, and at that age every new day is remarkable. Even so, death, when it comes, carries an element of surprise that's difficult—and perhaps impossible—to ever fully prepare for. It's final, and inarguable, and leaves behind a strange silence.

I still can't explain the odd appearance of German months in the archives the other day. Although it's certainly possible to change the blog's language, this is a global setting and so would affect more than just the month-names in the archives section. But I've been around computers long enough to know that software sometimes hiccups, and although the results may seem inexplicable, there is, in fact, a perfectly logical reason buried somewhere among the layers. It may be excruciatingly difficult to find, and perhaps not worth the effort, but it's in there somewhere.

So we can chalk it up to coincidence that the software hiccup would result in German, and not one of the 95 other languages, or language variants, that might have appeared instead. We can call it a fluke of timing that this would have happened immediately following my German grandmother's death. And it may have been simply an artifact of this particular combination of glitches that allowed me to fix the problem without touching the global settings, which is, after all, where language changes are made.

On the other hand, maybe there are no coincidences. Maybe coincidence, like chaos, is just our way of saying that we are unable to comprehend the complexity of a thing, or otherwise discover the true underlying causes of it. Maybe coincidence is a word with which to label the manifest mystery, and dismiss it before it has the chance to disrupt our daily affairs.

Next week, I think, will be a blur. There are the services, and the people, many of whom are seen only occasionally, when someone has died. I suppose a reunion by any other name is still a reunion, although it seems a bit sad that death should dictate the timing of it. But there are also graduations and birthdays, which can't—and shouldn't—be completely sidelined by sadness. Life, as they say, goes on, although it can certainly get a bit blurry at times.



  1. So sorry to hear of your loss. I agree with your observation that Death carries an element of surprise that is impossible to prepare for. As for the strange appearance of German in your archives, I don't think it was a "mere" coincidence, but more likely a correspondence. Fascinating ... and thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Thank you, Craig. I think of it as a correspondence, and she couldn't have picked a better way to do it, either.