In case you missed it — Ben’s Diary from the September issue.
TATYANA TERASOVA SEDLAR, rest in peace. Alex and I are up in a blazing hot Portola Valley, California, a rural, tony suburb of San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. The occasion is the memorial service for beloved Tatyana, the beautiful Siberian/Russian woman, also of Ukraine, who was my close friend and who died two or three days ago.
She was married to my friend Eric Sedlar. I knew her for about four or five years before she met Eric, a stunningly smart software genius at Oracle. I have said before that she was beautiful with gleaming blue eyes, a perfect smile, and flaxen hair—on top of regular features, a razor wit, and deep insights into America, even though she had been here only a short while when I met her. She died of (apparently) an accidental drug interaction. Everyone here is in deep shock and pain. I miss her keenly every moment.
Tatyana’s mother and father are here from Ukraine, along with her brother, whom she often discussed.The parents are staggered with pain.
Worst hit of all, of course, is Eric. The man is visibly coming unglued with loss and torment. Their daughter, Anna, was here playing with her grandmother, Tatyana’s mom, a few minutes ago. I think she is inside with her nanny now. Eric just lost his own mother a year or so ago, so he is laid low.
It is too hot here out by the pool of Eric and Tatyana’s immense home. Way too hot. Plus, there is a photo of the deceased from maybe six or seven years ago. She looks impossibly beautiful. She truly was impossibly beautiful. Torture to look at that photo.
Eric spoke briefly. A stupendously beautiful friend of Tatyana’s, also from Russia, spoke movingly. The woman (I later learned) is a highly accomplished polo player, but her real skill is in love and friendship.
We were all sobbing, and I had to move back to the pool house because of the punishing heat.
I spoke at length to the polo player after the service. Up close, she was much younger than I had realized. As I said, she was suffering terribly, but was so beautiful that I could hardly pay attention to what she was saying. Still, her excruciating sense of outrage and loss shone through her beauty. And, again, the Russians know how to make gorgeous women. So do the Poles and the Irish.
My wife is English. She’s the best. She looked magnificent in her black suit. Even in tragic moments like these, beauty makes an impression. Beauty is beauty and not to be denied. It has its own compulsions, even in death.
After the event, Alex and I went to visit our dear pals Al and Sally Burton at the home of their lovely daughter, Jenny, and her husband, Tom, at a fabulously cheery and airy house in Woodside, another tony suburb. Jenny has four large dogs that follow her everywhere, which was endearing.
Al and Sally are in their eighties, but looked well and were alert. They are friends as good as anyone could have. My life would have been much poorer in every way without them.
Then up to San Francisco to appear before a friendly, lovely group of mortgage bankers. I kept thinking that if they were as cheerful as they are with business as bad as it is, they must be able to fly when business is good.
A MORNING SPEECH to the mortgage bankers, then a flight to Dulles with beloved Alex on United to speak early tomorrow morning in National Harbor, a new attraction near Washington, D.C. We stayed at the immense and lovely Gaylord Hotel. We got lost wandering around looking for a place for Alex to smoke, but otherwise it was fine.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?