By Quenby Moone


There aren’t words for the confusion I feel about stepping out on the internet stage again. After living at our father’s house for the summer while he slowly sailed out to sea, my brother and I are stumbling into daylight as if from battle: scarred and weary and dazed.

It’s really bright out here, did you know that?

Lest I get ahead of myself and start writing cheeky little numbers which seem utterly inappropriate considering my last essays and Dad’s recent departure, I will close the chapter on Dad with this: the invitation to his memorial which doubles as his ticket for crossing the River Styx and beyond into the cosmos.

I started a graphics business at the moment when Dad came down with a touch of Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer; this is the only piece I’ve created since he was diagnosed. I’m glad. I never had the chance to focus on business, so I could make this ticket and memorial unfettered, with love and attention to absurd detail which makes me so happy and made him so proud.

Plus, everyone should have a ticket. How will we ever be guaranteed a spot with the nymphs and naiads if we don’t plan ahead?





Ship departs perpetually and eternally. No worries about missing your boat.





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QUENBY MOONE used to be a graphic designer who wrote once in a while. After her father came down with a touch of Stage IV prostate cancer, she became a writer who did graphic design once in a while.

She's written a book called Living in Twilight (no relation to vampires - unless dying of cancer is a part of Edward's story) in which her design skills came in handy, and includes some of her stories featured on The Nervous Breakdown.

64 responses to “Epilogue”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    What a wonderful daughter you are.
    Beautiful, Quenby. Just beautiful.

  2. Judy Prince says:

    Quenby, a wonderful tribute to your father—-both because of the beautiful artistic composition as well as the fitting thoughts. This, especially, is moving, as it expresses what he believed in most of all: ” . . . our humanity and our great ability to love and be loved . . . ”

    I’m remembering a hospice-cared dying man’s concluding thought about dying: “It’s like walking from the living room to the dining room.” I find it comforting, natural, and even a bit funny. Neat to imagine not only a smooth and comfortably familiar transition, but to think of dining—–of the feast of a new view and environment which, nevertheless, remains so near the old.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      I remembered the quote about walking from one room to another because you shared it once before–it came in handy an awful lot because I shared the thought with pretty much anyone and any thing that was around. A great gift that line, so I thank you and give proper attribution!

      It was a bit like that. Casual at the end. Poignant but simple.

      Except for all the stuff left behind. Whoa.

  3. You start your letter by explaining that your dad expected you to write something about him on the occasion of his death, but of course I think you both knew that it would never be easy, no matter how much you practiced. When you know something is going to happen, sometimes that can be the hardest thing to write about.

    But you did it beautifully. This really was a lovely tribute. Not only the writing but the graphics. It’s a touching, fitting piece of work.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Thanks, David. It wasn’t easy to write, but being pro-active I wrote some of it beforehand, actually at his bedside when he slept. What a strange thought now! But when my brother left I was trying to record as much of what was happening for him as I could. I cribbed from my own work, I guess! Is that wrong???

      And let me just say that I’m exceptionally glad the plane didn’t go down. I’m sorry you ended up in purgatory, but if you had been holding a ticket like Dad’s, things could have been a lot different! Although there would have been naiads…

      I’m very, very glad the plane didn’t go down.

  4. dwoz says:

    It’s amazing what you find out around here. If I’d known that it was only 20 francs to buy a first class ticket, I’d have bought mine ages ago.

    Now today there’s just the problem of finding some francs.

    Cheers on your passage, Quenby. I lost my own dad 25 years ago. Strange, un-moored time, as it is for everyone. Don’t fret, your compass will begin working again on it’s own, soon enough.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      You know, you just pick up any ol’ change left lying around, I think. I found all these francs in Dad’s top drawer before he died, and having read that the Greeks put a coin in the mouths of their loved ones for the fare with Charon, I figured Dad better pony up. I didn’t put it in his mouth, though. Just to be clear.

      We did wrap him up an other-worldly care package in which I put the francs, so he did pay the ferryman. A bargain at half the price!

      You were a young, young man when you lost your father; my husband lost his father when he was a boy. That’s much more difficult to go through, I think. It was hard, but we made sure Dad had the best exit we could provide. That’s the best thing in the world.

  5. Gloria says:

    The boarding pass and certificate are lovely and they brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful and funny and sad and, to be honest, brilliantly designed. You’re one hell of a graphic designer, Quenby.

    Glad to see you around these parts again. Sorry it’s under such heartbreaking circumstances.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      My heart is okay–we did things as well as we could so that we ensured that. I come across a million things which remind me of Dad but if we can’t have him now, we did it right at the end. I guess there’s nothing else but that!

      Thanks for the compliment about the design; I love old ephemera, and I love creating alternate historical records. The Interdimensional Federation made its debut with my son being born; I made him a passport. It only made sense that the Interdimensional crew would be involved in our departure from earth. Dad would have been glad to have been involved in the great Interdimensional Bureaucracy.

      Ah, Dad.

  6. D.R. Haney says:

    I’m crying and shit.

    That’s all I’m capable of saying for the moment. Sorry. I wish I could do better.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Tears are an awful lot. Thanks.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        No, I need to thank you. This is one of those TNB pieces that I’m always going to remember reading, Quenby. It’s truly one for the ages.

        • Quenby Moone says:

          Man, that is some sort of hefty compliment, my friend. I’m moved and flattered and altogether…um?

          I remember meeting you on my first post. The long exchange about Whitman, doing a little detective work on the provenance of the recording, having a good yuck or two–that was a big moment for me. I felt a part of something bigger than myself and I was giddy and weirded out. That I could return the moment in some other way is big. Thanks.

  7. Jesus, this is just gorgeous. Everything.

  8. Inspiring – inspiring me to live better and to love better.

    There are ways you’ve described how you grew up – how you had books everywhere and how your Dad made your house seem like a palace because it was filled with art, book, laughter…
    This has inspired Greg and I quite a bit in these past weeks, where we have scaled our life down to a smaller house with less stuff (not that I want to make this comment here about us – this is about you and your dad – but… you’ve really inspired us.)

    Thanks, Quenby – for sharing your father and his influence with us.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      It’s true! The pictures of that tiny little house always look so strange, because the house never felt small. All of our friends growing up concede that it was this strange little idyll, even though it was dusty and cluttered and apparently about the size of a shoe box. It certainly didn’t feel like that.

      I’m glad Dad could inspire that in others, even through a memorial! That’s really saying something. I aspire to the same magic in our house; god knows we’ve got the clutter and the dust.

      Thanks, Steph. Can’t wait for you to visit my clutter and dust someday.

  9. This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Hey, Q.

    I love this and I loved your dad. He was hilarious, kind and raised brilliant amazing children. You guys do him proud.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      We’ll do it in high style when we come out next month, tip a glass to the old goat. By the way, how politically incorrect a painting do you want?

      • Are we talking The Cleveland Painters Union version of Creation?


        I don’t know, something inappropriate enough to put over my mantle?

        • Quenby Moone says:

          Definitely! I believe someone has, rather remarkably, claimed CREATION MYTHS!! I can’t actually believe it will hang in someone’s house, but Dad’s friends were friends with him after all. So I’ll have to find something else inappropriate. I’ll take a little peek through the archives!

          If I can’t find something inappropriate, I’ll just have to go with strange. He did strange pretty well too!

  11. Judy Prince says:

    I need to give proper attribution to that line, then, Quenby. It comes from _Glimpses of Heaven: True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey_ by Trudy Harris, a hospice nurse. Brief chapters tell of her patients’ last days and their families’ reactions. Sounds like a downer, but it was wonderfully comforting. I’ve just ordered the book again (bcuz my other copy’s in the States).

    You say: “It was a bit like that. Casual at the end. Poignant but simple.”

    “Except for all the stuff left behind,” indeed! The rush of clerical/legal/housekeeping/social-interactive stuff that must be done. A full good cry is what I needed. And some time alone after so much activity and emotional intensity.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Dad was extremely efficient in making sure the i’s were dotted before he left, but still, good grief! What a lot of stuff there is left behind! I need a personal assistant!

      Nice mutual attribution we have going on here. I like it.

      • Judy Prince says:

        “Nice mutual attribution we have going on here. I like it.” Me, too, Quenby.

        You’ve nailed it here perfectly: “Dad was extremely efficient in making sure the i’s were dotted before he left, but still, good grief! What a lot of stuff there is left behind! I need a personal assistant!”

        I immediately inherited a similar situation, and a couple folks wondered aloud how I had the courage (or something) to do all the gut-wrenching phone calls, the complicated paperwork, the difficult decisions. But when there’s no choice, you just slog ahead.

        I kept putting off the memorial service, didn’t want to face that as an extra hellish reminder of the pain. At last I asked the advice of a dear friend whose wife had died shortly before. He said, “Have the service right away,” and I’m glad I took his advice.

        Throughout the experience I learned to appreciate family and friends who were willing to do the tough bits like visit the dying person, sitting with him to “spell” me a couple hours to run errands or just get away from the work and sorrow of caregiving, and coming to the memorial service and the house afterwards, whether to help out or just “pay their respects.”

        I also learned that some family members, and thankfully they were few, take advantage of the situation after a person’s death.

        Yet the most difficult emotional times were remembering him as we’d last seen him alive, his physical emaciation. It took awhile before those memories faded.

        The grandest and most enduring part of all is remembering, even now, the steadfast courage and upbeat spirit of the dying man. He was a beacon to all of us, an example of the survival of the spirit.

  12. This is one of the most tenderly beautiful and original of documents. I take my hat off to you, on summoning the will to do something like this in the face of your grief. It’s really inspiring.

    • I agree with Alexander. I’ve never seen anything like it. Imagine someone a thousand years from now finding the document and considering that people might actually have purchased such tickets for a transdimensional voyage of the spirit. Wonderful.

      • Quenby Moone says:

        I would LOVE IT if some archeologist would study the great INTERDIMENSIONAL trend. How awesome would that be to completely mislead the historical record? I’m going to make a point of it. From here on out, I’m making it a mission to create alternate histories which could be perceived as real.

        Oh, wait. Those guys are called Steam Punks.

        Thanks, Nick. It means a lot.

        • I hadn’t talked to my dad’s widow in ten years. I just picked up a phone and called her out of the blue two days ago. It was a joyous phone call.

          Our dads’ spirits are soaring.

        • Quenby Moone says:

          I can’t tell you how happy this comment makes me! It’s such a strange thing; Dad’s friends have been crawling out from every nook and cranny, many of whom I don’t know, but they’ve all been so lovely and great and it’s a strange reunion of sorts. I’m glad you had one too. Lovely.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      I think in the face of grief doing something like this helps, so really it makes sense. I guess in that respect I had an outlet, somewhere to focus all of my thoughts about Dad and dying and moving on. I don’t know what a CPA or a computer programmer would do under the same circumstances! So it’s lucky that I’m quirkily inclined? Or that I can’t help but make every personal event into some sort of paper event?

      Ah, well. Thank you. Your praise is high and I’m grateful.

  13. Marni Grossman says:

    This is just brutally gorgeous, Quenby. Breathtaking.

    I’m so so sorry for your loss.

  14. Irene Zion says:


    I’m going to need some time,
    maybe a long time,
    before I can comment.
    Please excuse me.

  15. Mary Richert says:

    Oh, wow, Quenby. I am so sorry for your loss, but I think your dad passed in a really loving and loved way. I think you did exactly what all of us hope we are strong enough to do for our parents and what we hope someone will do for us.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      That’s the key, right? Good grief, who is going to be there when we really need the help? It’s a thought which gave me pause quite often throughout this whole situation, especially when I would take Dad to radiation therapy and there were often men and women there alone, with only attendants to help them. So alienating and depressing. No families or even friends there.

      I was grateful that my brother and I could be there for him when he needed it most. There’s no guarantees for the rest of us in this world, that’s for sure.

      Anyway, thanks Mary. Lovely to hear your thoughts.

  16. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Quenby…. Just, “Quenby”. It’s embarrassing – I’m at work, trying not to weep but feeling foolish and disrespectful for not giving in to the tears. Your work was beautiful as were your words. Fantastic artistry and understanding. My condolences to you and your brother for your loss but my congratulations at sharing such an incredible perspective and love in your lives. Safe travels and new joys to your father, until you meet each other again.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      He’s having a joyful time frolicking with the naiads, I’m pretty sure.

      Thanks, Anon. I’ll take the sentiment if it’s a lousy time for tears. Believe me, do I ever know about that.

  17. Matt says:

    I have no words. Just tears.


  18. James D. Irwin says:

    That was bizarre and strange and incredibly, incredibly beautiful.

  19. Irene Zion says:

    After a year living inside
    a bubble with your
    dad dying
    a little at a time,
    the light has to be so bright outside.
    The sounds have to be too loud.

    While you were inside
    loving and learning
    from your dad,
    you created an extraordinary
    piece of art
    along with beautifully appropriate words.

    How right your dad was
    that you and your brother
    could do anything together,
    and what a gift it was
    for him to give you,
    that faith
    that love.

    He didn’t forget anything
    and neither did you.
    You have made a tribute
    any parent would take with him
    and keep with him
    inside his soul
    during his sail
    and to his new existence
    on the other side.

  20. Richard Cox says:

    Quenby, this is one of the most beautiful and original tributes to a loved one’s passing I’ve ever had the privilege to read. How proud and noble your father must have felt to raise such loving and brilliant children. This is special and amazing and touching.

    Whenever I read posts or hear friends talk about the difficulty of raising children, I like to joke that I never want to have any of the little rugrats myself. But this tribute to your father demonstrates the magic of bringing into the world a child who might love and dignify her father the way you have.

    I’m sorry for your loss, but happy to see you have lived it with such grace. Thank you for posting this.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Being a child in his house was amazing. I think my brother and I would both agree that we lucked out. And the return of the gift is of course trying to create the same wonder with our rugrat. It comes with a series of challenges: they whine, they puke up on occasion, they’re slobs, and they have an amazing propensity for tuning you out when you’re really trying hard to be a grown-up. But these mundanities are all we parents feel comfortable talking about. If we oozed all our romantic pie-eyed notions about having a rugrat, you would kill us.

      Or think we were pathological liars.

      Anyway, I think that though they’re complicated little buggers (my dad would agree–I was a real pistol) there was nothing he was more satisfied in his life about than having kids. I would have to agree.

      Even after the nagging.

  21. Greg Olear says:

    The boarding pass is gorgeous, QB. Really really great.

    Your father sounds like the coolest man, and your relationship with him is inspiring. It really is. Steph and I were discussing this the other day.

    I hope you and yours are holding up. Death is never easy, no matter how prepared you are for it (ie, if you have the coin for Charon or not).

    • Quenby Moone says:

      You know, it makes you think about planning, that’s for sure! I will keep a coin around, just in case.

      We’re sad without him, and I’m of course reminded of him constantly with all his papers and stuff everywhere, but I can’t fault my brother and I for doing our best to honor him when he was still here. It was an amazing experience. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it was amazing.

      Love to your chilluns, those big, school-learnin’ kids! Give ’em a squeeze from nutty ol’ Anti-Q.

  22. Jo Elenbogen says:

    Quenby……beautiful thoughts on your father. I have saved it on my laptop to read every so often. You definitely inherited his artistry. I’m new to Facebook so forgive as I try to discover this whole new world in cyberspace.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Hey, Jo. Lovely to see you on the Breakdown.

      I hadn’t put it on Ominous Rabbit because I was waiting until I had them printed and mailed out to everyone first; you’re definitely in the list. I got them back yesterday, and Jane and I are folding, stamping, etc. You’ll have a hard copy, too.

      Facebook is bizarre. I have such a strange relationship with Facebook I even wrote an essay about it. If you take it slow, it will make sense. Or not and then you’ll forget it ever existed!

    • Jo Elenbogen says:

      back to Facebook.

  23. Simon Smithson says:

    I think anyone who received such a tribute as this could be judged as living a good, full, life, who enriched the lives of others, and who loved and was loved deeply and truly.

    No one can ask for more than that.

  24. Lorna says:

    Quenby, this was so very touching. I read it last night, but was so full of emotion that I could not comment. What a great tribute to your Father. May he rest his soul in peace now. Sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this exrtraordinary journey of love and compassion. Bless you.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Thank you, Lorna. I’m moved that it’s moving to others who didn’t know Dad; it means he did something right! Dad was an art professor and art historian so he believed in the power of art to make people react, think, change, reflect. It was a great gift he gave thousands of students; I’m glad I could make one gesture to return a smidgen of the favor. Thanks for writing.

  25. Jo Elenbogen says:

    Quenby. Again I am new to this. So I will respond here since there is this empty space waiting to be filled and somehow I created it. I sent you something on the Nervous Breakdown. I don’t know if I did it correctly but hope I did. I think it is fitting that you are having a memorial for him in Denver/Boulder. He lived a huge part of his life there. By the way, he was an incredible Art History professor as well as Fine Arts. I loved to take his classes in Art History. They were definitely not boring. And that is a gift to a student. I am so amazed at the varied styles of his painting. He could paint reality as well as abstract as well as illustration, etc. He really enjoyed our 1967-1971 class. We were truly those 60s misfits and eclectic characters. We had him laughing in delight almost all of the time. I remember you as a baby being carried either on your Dad’s back or Janey’s. You were a familiar sight around the University of Colorado Denver Center.

  26. Pat McClain says:

    What a wondeful tribute to your Dad! The artistry and beauty of the graphics as well as your writing,again has moved me so…I send Hugs and hope someday the hugs will be in person! My best to you, your family and Chris!

  27. Jeffrey Pillow says:

    Quenby, my sincerest condolences for the loss of your father. It is easy to see the measure of his character in your words. I have read each one you shared with us and on your website. I know how deep the loss of a father can be and what you have written will carry his memory forever forward into the generations ahead.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Jeffrey, I remember that you lost your own pop under similar circumstances; I’m surprised and moved you would relive it again through my own experience. But I guess that’s what makes us what we are: the need to make sense of the senseless and to reach an understanding with loss.

      Thanks. I appreciate it.

  28. Hyrum says:

    That is by far my favorite style of book. It works so well with my mind that the last one I read I almost needed a counselor to convince me I have never traveled to Egypt (and yes almost means I had to see her, but NOT for the full year of weekly visits)

  29. […] She’s written beautifully and lovingly about her late father and his battle with cancer.  We learned about his love of books, and how he introduced his oft-tired teenage daughter to the miracle and wonder of coffee.  And we were there at the end, when she gave him his boarding pass to cross the River Styx. […]

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