It’s amazing what the mind recalls. June 14 marks the twentieth year since our friend Steve R died. And though I’d have to put effort into remembering what I did yesterday, I vividly remember the details of that summer day.
I recently told a friend that when someone I love dies, for a while afterward, it’s as if time slows down. And though unexpected death is shattering, most of my experience with loss hasn’t been that way. In fact, it has been my honor to be present when several people left this world, and I do mean honor. Whatever one’s beliefs, there’s something quietly sacred in those moments of a last, peaceful goodbye.
They are also private moments, and though I’ve written about Steve’s death in poetry, mentioned it online, and shared some of the details with friends and those who love him, I hope I’ve never infringed on that privacy. Today I received a card written by his mother, from both his parents, and it reminded me again of their integrity, their sweetness, and their love for their son. They still miss him. They always will. I will, too.
After leaving the hospital that day, our friend Geraldine and I went to tell Geof that it was over. We picked him up from work, tried to eat something, and ended up at Geof’s apartment. I remember Geraldine whispering to me, “Whatever he wants to do, just do it.” I nodded, and that’s how I somehow ended up doing a Tarot reading for Geof at his request from the cards pictured. (Geof loved anything Egyptian, and the Egipcios Kier deck is based on Egyptian symbols, letters, and hieroglyphs.) Tarot cards are not something at which I have any actual skill, but I’ve always considered them a way for a person to self-evaluate, much like meditation, dreams, journals, even therapy. To me, it’s another tool of discovery.
Although getting out the Tarot cards was a good distraction for us all–a chance to stand back from the emotional intensity of that day–I remember Geof’s reading as being extremely difficult and complex. When I took these cards out today to get a photo, I couldn’t understand why. They seemed pretty straightforward as I flipped through them. Then I looked at the book, and I noticed how small the print is, how dense the information, and I realized that it’s those words again–they’re always adding layers and possibilities, conflicts and challenges, more questions than answers.
Honestly, I don’t know why I love words so much.
I just do.
Thinking of you, Steve, and sending boundless love your way, and all good thoughts to Geraldine, Geof, and all those who miss you still.