Before everything blew up, she gave Skylar the comics from the Sunday paper to look at. Skylar must have told her about the cartooning unit she did last week at art camp. Anyway, once Nana was gone, probably not to return for some time, the comics lay on the kitchen table forlornly. Two hours later, I started reading them as a way of distracting myself from the emotional gravity of the evening. One made me laugh out loud.
That got Skylar interested in reading them. I looked for something appropriate for her, but was shocked at how few strips were comprehensible for children. Most presumed either an experience of adult life or an understanding of our historical context that pre-teens lack. And the general tenor was considerably darker than the comics of my youth. Doonesbury, the most consistently "real" strip when I was Bean's age, actually seemed light-hearted when compared with some of the newer ones I read.
Eventually I came to Funky Winkerbean, a strip I had read many times before, but had never tried to size up. My recollections were that its humor fell on the "soft" side of the comic spectrum. Beyond that, however, I didn't bring any expectations to yesterday's number. That's part of the reason why it floored me:I had already ruled the strip out for Bean by the time I got to the second frame, given its adult theme. But I never expected it to bring me to tears. I've always been moved by the serious moments within comedy. Tonight, though, the negativity still floating in the air, coupled with the realization that the comics I was reading might be Skylar's last gift from her grandmother for a long time, made me especially vulnerable.
Right before I went to show the strip to Kim, she was talking about how Russ would comfort her whenever her mother behaved badly. Earlier today, I had a talk with someone about cancer survivors and then ended up playing Sufjan Stevens's "Casimir Pulaski Day" for Skylar on the drive from the Tucson Museum of Art to the Cancer Center to pick up Kim. Somehow, all the energy generated by those superficially unrelated moments has become a vortex of sadness right now. I can't even wrap up this entry in my usual fashion. But it felt important to share.