I’ve been trying to think for the past few days about what to say about Mary Crockett Hill, who I am not ready to talk about in the past tense. Her daughter Isabelle wrote a wonderful remembrance. (I’ll add the obituary link when it’s public.) I’m also linking to the gofundme to help her family with some of the expenses ahead. Here’s my favorite picture of Mary, taken during a perfect day in the woods.
My last words to Mary, aside from an update on my radioactive cat, were: What has 8 arms and 8 legs and 8 eyes?
I’ve spent the past nine months intermittently texting her jokes. Bad ones. Because sometimes when there is so much to say, you don’t know where to start. So you start with pirates. And a guy walking into a bar. And sometimes a pirate walking into a bar.
But you hope that between the punchlines and the arrrhs, she knows what you really mean.
I’m lucky enough to have spent time writing with Mary (and to her, and sometimes at her).
She is someone who looks (take that, past tense) at the same things as the rest of us. But she takes the details and generates some sort of metamorphosis, turning them to liquid and then sending them back to us, solid. And by then the thing – a mountain, a patch of lawn, a beetle, a whisper – is truer than true. It’s moving or devastating or funny or devastatingly funny. It’s art.
There’s more Mary has to say, and I’m hoping somehow that can still happen. There is more I have to say to her, too. The still unsaid things.
One thing that did not go unsaid are the words “I love you.” That’s a gift from Mary, because she says it (and gives it) pretty freely. She said it to end conversations long before she got sick. Which means I always had the chance to say it back. “I love you, too.” Too. The second part of the equation.
Now I’ll just have to say it first.