Six Degrees of Shadrach

by

I really did not want to write about this tonight.

Sometimes I get frustrated with myself and think that I should be further along in the process.  Forgetting completely that the process is not linear and that it is a process.

I got a call from a very dear, very close, very loved friend last night right before doing my Wednesday night deal.

Her father committed suicide last night.

Baby, I am so sorry, I am so sorry for your loss, for your heartbreak, I just wanted to smother you and hold you and hug you and all I could do was say let me help, let me hold your hand, let me be there for you.

So, I am.

I am getting to be of service.

I will be house sitting for her and her husband while they travel toward the family and do what families do at times like this, gather, like wild geese at midnight, soughing with their cries of pain through the whistling midnight air high above the earth.

They got on an airplane this evening at 10 p.m. and headed to the East Coast.

I got done with work tonight, muffled, my heart aching for them, and rode my bike home.  I had an assignment to do, some sitting that had to be done.

Challenging at first to sit, to be still to let myself get into the rocking chair by the window and ignore the texts and the calls and the Facecrack updates and just be.

I pulled the book down from the shelf and looked over the first five proposals.  Had I left anything out, had I shared all that I had to share?  Was I setting my foundation with mortar or sand.

I left it all out on the kitchen counter in Noe Valley with Carolyn, my trusted advisor, and then went to work.  I did not have the time to take the hour before work.  I went in, told my GM I was taking a long lunch off site and when one o’clock rolled around I punched out and got in my friend’s car and drove with him up to the Castro.

My darling sweet girl, sitting in piles of photographs, packing, sifting, red tear-stained face, aching heart, oh, love, I feel your loss.

I got the keys to the house, the instructions on how to feed the fish, where to take the recycling, how to separate out the kitten from the big adult cat.  I got to hug my friend, I wish I could have just hugged her a little longer,  a little stronger, a little harder.

But I left her knowing that her house and her babies, because your kitties and your fish are your babies, don’t let any one tell you different, were going to be ok.

I will be up in the Castro for the next three weeks until they have taken care of all that has to be taken care of.

I pray that she remembers to take care of herself.

She is very much in my heart right now.

Very much.

I got a lift back down to the bike shop and frankly, I just quietly did my job.  I put a smile on my face and a polite wall up.  I just did not have a whole lot to give.  I did what I had to do and left right on the nose at seven p.m.

I rode home with the chill fog whirling around me.

I associate fog with death.

Five years ago when it would get to overwhelming at General I would walk to the window on the third floor of the ICU and I would watch the fog swirl down over Twin Peaks.

Shadrach lay quietly, a cathedral of love, in the locked doors behind me to the left.  I would turn off my phone and press my face against the window and feel that cold fog pressing over the hill and onto the hot red pain of tears streaking down my face and I would just try to breathe.

And here I am again.

Losing myself in the hollowed out hills of pain.

I have learned an awful lot about love since that time and loss.  Loss by the way is not loss, but an opportunity to make space for more love.

If I could just catch my breath.

If I could just sit.

Sometimes I would slide down onto the floor of the hospital corridor and lean into that window and if I had remembered to turn off the phone and there was a lull in the visiting hours I would have moments of serenity.

I did not know that was what it was.

It was either that or shock.

I was hollowed out.

I met Shannon on the AIDS ride training three years ago.  I did the AIDS ride for Shadrach.  She and I bonded, became friends, and now here I am taking care of the epicenter of her life while she goes to bury her father.

I met Jefferson at the Decompression party that Shadrach threw at his loft in the Dog Patch.  Jefferson was my wing man, my steady right hand, the arms I collapsed into when I could not hold the grief any longer.  Jefferson took me to Burning Man.  Jefferson is prodded me into doing the AIDS ride, where I met Shannon and her soon to be husband Alex.

Jefferson is now my boss and still my good friend.

I rode my bicycle past the gorgeous Annie, who I met five years ago, sitting behind me, in a dingy room in the Mission, weeping my eyes out over my friend laying in state.  She went to Burning Man, grew up, went back to school graduated, moved in with her boyfriend and only gets more lovely with time.

It really felt like that, he was lying in state.  He was with us for a week before they harvested him and spread his joy over the world.

David Allen.

John Ater.

ACK.

Shadrach introduced me to John Ater one dark and wonderous night at the corner of Castro and Market.

John Ater for whom I cannot ever express my love and gratitude enough for.  This gentle bear of a man who held me and let me sob on his shoulder, who took my abuse, and wiped away my tears, sometimes with a roll of paper towels.  Sometimes with the sleeve of his shirt.

John who taught me how the fuck to grow up and own my dreams.

John who gave me something I get to pass onto others–the gift of being loved and lovable and worthy of love.

Shadrach you gift giver you.

I sat for an hour.

Tears drifted down my face like the soft heart of sea salt fog and now the fog is not a death, but a balm, a separating and a love, a soothing embrace.

I recall a ride I took recently, we rushed over the hills up into Noe Valley and the fog, dense, wet, heavy, drifted in drowsy with sea salt and the pull of the moon high hiding behind the masses of clouds and vapor.

I was overwhelmed by the near invisibility and the fast rush of the cycle as it climbed the hills.  My heart in my mouth, I just closed my eyes and held on.  I was carried where I was supposed to go.

Church and Market.

And Elizabeth said to me, “Go write down those things that are easy for you to see the go(o)d in.”

My cat Uni purring

Fresh flowers in a mason jar

The smell of verbena

Clean sheets

My rocking chair (same chair I sat in tonight)

The smell of wood burning

Dancing

A really hot shower

Coffee

Hummingbirds when they are perched

Salt

The drive to Sky High Orchard through Devil’s Lake State Park.

The fog rolling over Twin Peaks minutes after sunset

Ice cubes

Cold water when I am thirsty

The way grass feels on my bare feet

The giraffe that winked at me at the Decompression party

The way Madeleine’s arms felt when she was five, heavy, sweet, wet from the pool, the whisper of her voice as she kissed my ear and said, “I love you.”

The sunset from the rock of Gibraltar when I was five

The low-lying mist burning off over the cornfields in the morning

Sitting by myself in the dark looking at the lights on the Christmas tree and that feeling that always comes over me

Finding shells on the black sand beach when I was four

Reading Watership Down for the first time

Arthur as a boy in T.H. White’s the Once and Future King

Lizz’s hugs

Singing to Storm when she was a baby

Talking with Alex on the phone

Not recognizing myself in the mirror.

Having dreams and knowing that as long as I stay sober I will be graced with love.

Shadrach kissing my forehead at Room to Grow and making me laugh

Last line of the first list, 10/21/05

Shannon I love you.  Shadrach I love you for all the amazing people who are in my life because of you–Wendy, Fred, Paine, David Allen, John Ater, Bradley Merle Smith, Tom Jarman, Matthew, Jayne, Jefferson, Claudia, Barnaby (thank you, I still get amazing compliments on my memorial tattoo), Grecia, Scott Hirsch, Robert Cameron, Mark Henry, Tricia, Jackie, Calvin, Kevin, Zefrey, Megan Miller, my God the list is so long and I can’t remember it all.

I just feel you all.  I feel you in the whisper of fog and the kiss of moisture on my forehead and I open my heart and thank God from the bottom of it for getting to know him better.

I have an arch way, a solid rising ring of love to walk beneath.  My mortar is set, my heart beating fresh alive, outside my rib cage burning with the divine and the salt of pain and loss which invigorates me and fills me up, renders me whole, despite feeling split asunder.

Thanking God from the bottom of my heart that I get to know him better.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

 

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