the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

I Could Write

I could write about what’s on my mind, but you don’t want to know. These words would create a slowly-cooked stew of disturbing images of sickness, illness, and dying, a stubborn refusal of my FIL to eat or drink or live anymore, the complete denial of reality by my MIL as she faces the inevitable after decades of companionship, a stew seasoned with my own angry emotions, feelings of frustration about my own marriage, fear of being trapped, all served with a hefty dollop of mental exhaustion and a need to live fully, to break away, to ask the lonely-looking thirtyish Russian nurse visiting right now — as i write this on my iphone — out for coffee when she is done taking his temperature, to make out in the car, and then later fuck her until we can’t fuck any longer, right on the bed next to my dying FIL, and then fuck again slowly as we listen to the calming, gentle songs of James Taylor on the radio, because he would understand what I am feeling, and my FIL would approve, and so would my father, looking down from heaven. Life is now.


  1. Jurgen Nation

    These are the times when it’s absolutely essential you write.

  2. sweetsalty kate

    I was wondering this morning if death can ever be dignified. Witnessing it, going through it. I don’t know. We’re all so damned terrified, even when we’re 93.

    I’ve got nothing to add, and not much in the way of words to make you feel any differently. It’s a slog, dealing with a family that grieves, and abiding with death. It’s exhausting and sad and it makes the world stop and spin faster all at the same time.

    But it’s a beautiful slog. An important one. It matters that you’re there. And someday, soon, you’ll return to your life with something new. Conviction, perspective, rest, fresh intent. Who knows what. xo

  3. Finn

    Life is now. Go, do.

  4. Heather

    It is true….we must live for the now. But so many of us pick at others—being completely ugly, for the sake of…of what?

    You’re doing well. You really are. All things considered.

  5. jess

    This is so beautiful.

    The intensity of all of it, the fucking away.

    I love it.

  6. magpie

    death is hard, but it happens, it must. writing through it is good.

  7. wn

    this squeezed my chest a bit…

    this business of dying…of grieving…of being sick…it is all consuming…on everyone involved.

    it is important, it is life-changing…but it is also consuming.

    i don’t feel like i’d be betraying any confidences when i admit to you that my thoughts have never been so raw (and vivid) as during the hours i sat beside my mother in the hospital.

    our roller coaster keeps cresting and falling (yesterday, a seemingly effective round of radiation)…yet this disease….this business of dying…occupies a small permanent place in my life right now. sometimes i wonder if it is here to stay.

    live the best way you know how….

  8. Jen

    This is a lot to handle and you handle it so well. one day at a time is all we can do. you are really never alone. 😉

  9. churlita

    I hope things get better for you all and that you are able to live in the moment.

  10. V-Grrrl

    I think you should skip the Russian nurse and go for a barista.

  11. mamie

    ach. no words for you, just sending thoughts your way as you experience this. i know this is not what your trip was going to be, but maybe it is what it is meant to be?

  12. wendy

    I’m am sorry that so much pain was the catalyst for this very fine pc of writing.
    very very fine. a prose poem.

    it is a gift of the pain, but it does not take it away.

  13. anymommy

    I thought about you and all your family is going through as I sat at my grandma’s funeral two weeks ago. Death is really, really hard. Obviously. But still.

  14. Anne Arkham

    Sex can be the opposite of death. Big hug to you. Beautiful writing here.

  15. Jane

    I want to know.

  16. Karl

    Ugh, sorry, man.

  17. this new place

    I was incredibly close with my grandfather growing up, he was like a parent to us, when he died, it was so devastating and kind of a long haul leading up to it. I was 23 and had just met someone about a week before and were in the VERY early days of courtship. I went to where he lived and we had a campfire in his back yard and drank heavily and then stayed in his bed for about three days. I didn’t go to work. I didn’t return phone calls to anyone. We just did it. I remember the feeling, I always will. The suckiness of it and also how good it was.

  18. Jenny

    wow. more familiar to me than one might expect. i like this post a lot.

  19. The Mister

    That… was AWESOME!

  20. Quick Hand Sally

    I love being shocked, having my breath taken away. It is so rare when its done so honestly.

  21. Loukia

    So, what are you waiting for? Just do it! And well written and well said.

  22. Slow Panic

    i can’t stand watching people deny death that is right in front of them.

    so well written and well said (and yes i stole taht form loukia

  23. Lisa T

    Love your raw honesty. I’ll be back.

  24. 180|360

    finn wrote exactly what i was going to.

    great post, neil.

  25. schmutzie

    Yes. I get this.

  26. slouchy

    fine writing, neil. i continue to think of you as you navigate this extraordinarily difficult situation.

  27. JanePoet ~ JP/deb

    You’re right Neil – life is now. There is little more difficult that dying a slow death, literally or metaphorically.

    Sending peace & love,

  28. kelly

    Like a swift wordy backhand…God, sex, Death wrapped up in a brass knuckle – bravo. I felt alive reading that…now I better go do ‘something’.

  29. Emily

    Just catching up with this. I am sorry you are dealing with all of this.

  30. Blaiser

    Yes. Prose poem for sure. Hope you are hanging tough.

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