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Paul Puppe

He was born a few weeks after me, an August baby, but we didn't meet until kindergarten - University Place in Tacoma, 1968. Very bright and happy kid, with fine icy-blond hair. He was sweet, but you couldn't tell him that, because he was a guy, so you told him he was cool. And kind of a shy, sly fox. Yeah. We went to school at Narrows View Elementary for seven years, then to Curtis Junior/Senior High for six more. After I went off to college in Bellingham, I lost track of him, although I heard reports through the Network of Moms - he was in the military, got in a spot of trouble (didn't all us first-wave Gen-X'ers drift in and out of trouble through the eighties, though), sucked it up and got it together, got married (a couple of times, from what I heard), and had six (!) kids. He was a great guy - my mom ran into him a couple of times over the past few years, and she always made sure to tell him what I was doing, and let me know what he was doing in return. He got it together, he was doing well. Great husband, great father, great guy.

Unfortunately, my mom didn't tell me that he died early in March this year, of stage four stomach cancer, after an excruciating eight-month battle. She told me tonight, during an impromptu phone call home during the rain storm. I got most of the details from remnants on Google - already, he's disappearing from there, too. He was only 44 years old.

No, this isn't an April Fool's joke. And I feel so fucking bad, because I didn't know - I would have gone home, I would have emailed him or called him - anything, anything, anything. I didn't know.

I'm so sorry, Paul. I'm so sorry.

Marine Autumn

I owe you marine autumn
With dankness at its roots
and fog like a grape
and the graceful sun of the country;
and the silent space
in which sorrows lose themselves
and only the bright crown
of joy comes to the surface.

--Pablo Neruda.


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