Tag Archive: Death of a best friend


lately I see death as light, not the stuff that comes from our eyes and brain but the stuff that makes up the substance of existence. We are moving there along with all creatures, along with the elements, whatever is not empty space and apparently “empty space” is the most prevalent element “known” in our existence.

Here in the play of our world, our planet, what we know and don’t know all leads to this shooting of light. The bonding of one being to another births grief at its ending all dependent on the acceptance of what is inevitable and the degree of vulnerability. Vulnerability in the sense of the ability to feel deep compassion and love.

Grief as a spiritual substance allow us to grow. It allows us to cherish our emotions and to live without selfishness. In the face of a society that does not encourage acceptance in preference of dilution, pushing aside, forgetting or obliteration with any means of other substance or diversion perhaps it is rare to see death and loss as a great giver. But it does give, from death we see how we are all the same, not so different from the flashing lights I see death as…. zooming in some namelessly tiny particle at a speed that has no meaning.

I have been changed for Good

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Grief as Spiritual Space: Part 1

My Hospice therapist mentioned last time I saw her that we in “modern society” attempt to push away grief as undesirable, esp for our dead or otherwise departed…. this for those who occupied great meaning in our lives. Instead, she suggested that we honor the people, animals…. that have moved us. Honor their place in our lives and even, surprisingly, honor their loss.

This song is for Jolyon…. someday I will write a piece about him… seems I’m not yet ready. He was a good man, full of life and high spirits. He was a challenge. The path of sadness and pain was never hidden. He loved with the greatest joy and the gifts of believing.

What’s the Use Of Wondering (Carousel)

No more cuddling in bed, laughing about new discovers, arguing in philosophical rambles, no more going out to breakfast at “our” spots, laughing together, walking in the rain sharing an umbrella, getting mad at the dirt you brought in or wondering what we will do today…. you this…me that…. playing with the dogs together, you bringing the coffee and the conversation, sharing our day…. what did you do… and really caring, going out hand ‘n hand, celebrating, crying, laughing, getting mad and getting happy, grabbing a bite to eat, did you get your water, always being late because you forgot something, packing the dogs and us off for drive, a visit, a hike, exploring, an adventure… new discoveries, going shopping, wondering when you’re ever going to get off the phone, wondering why you have to be so nice to everyone, watching you fix things knowing I could do it better and faster, calling you a million times ’cause you won’t answer the phone, wondering where the heck you are, meeting at midnight, going for a walk at 2 am, propping up pillows, giving a shoulder massage, just doing stuff together…. a lot of stuff together because we like it, waking up to a new day that is ours. .. . . . .. . No more of this….. no more shared times, no more arguments, no more kisses, no more of that feeling happy and content to just be in the same space…… No more learning about the world from you, hearing your appreciation of me being me….. Why on a holiday? …. Just because. A holiday alone is every other day alone. Alone with memories. Alone with missing.

The Memorial for Forrest Lewis was the largest gathering Three Springs has hosted. I heard some 200 people in attendance. Tears, laughter, rituals, food, memories, Forrest songs and stories carpeted the community; there was even a skit and a telling of Forrest jokes. Everytime I turned I swore I saw my friend and was about to tap him on the shoulder, give him a hug, tell him how much I missed him and what did he think of this big party in his honor? I sat in the spot that I’d known him to occupy, waited till the end when the kitchen was empty just as he would have done to snack on the plethora of potluck dishes. I met more of his friends that day than I have ever known; shared with his family and faces I’d not seen in an eon. I told my story and was gifted with hugs. They filled me where I was hungry, with questions, with comments, “oh that’s what Forrest was like before I met him, before he came here, before his transplant,” they told me their stories, they gave me their love. I connected with his world, the people he loved; our loss blended into celebration of how he’d come and gone.

The North Fork (and surrounding) community is strong, living among them would be an experience yet I couldn’t help consider talks with Forrest, his disappointments and joys and compare them to the remembrances of the day. I tried on his eyes, his feet wandering, gazing at the land. What Forrest would think, what he would say? I think I know.

I left late, retrieving Olympia and Mason, busy rummaging among the snacks, yanking a hundred stickers and burrs from Olympia’s coat, pulled on the LT headlights which were dim. I was moving, and pulled again, now the road ahead was inky. A car passed and I darted behind it pulling and twisting the headlight knob recklessly. A strange sensation swept me. I chased the only other car on the road, holding to its ray of light. I knew it was foolish, like a Disneyland ride, the Mad Hatter or some evil ghost the kind that I’d been afraid of as a child. Afraid of the dark. Felt like Forrest was sitting on my shoulder, playing one of his games, saying, go ahead now; you go and keep up with him. There was wind coming from the wing window but I hadn’t remembered I opened it as I groped in the dark flipping switches and driving faster than I had any right to hearing the sound of loose gravel past curves and shadowy trees. When my GPS beeped the turn-off for Matt’s house and I was alone in empty darkness checking my eyesight for the rough dirt road I couldn’t see, I pulled once more just for the heck of it, wondering if I could use my flashlight strapped to the front bumper to find the way, and wolla the lights popped on, the brakes responded with a musical groan.

Something told me it was a right of passage, a parting gift from my dear friend, a heralding of all friends; I shouldn’t forget that the road holds surprises, that an ending is fantasy given the point of observation from which we view time, that fear of the unknowing (darkness) may be nothing at all, that we are closer now with space dissolved, with the mortal parts of us in the past.

…………………………… Word Press Trouble: Trouble seems to be in the new update for Firefox not loading the javascript windows . . .anyone know how to fix this???? Am using a differnt browser temporarly but this one is acting weird very hard to use… need a fix for Firefox

On The Porch at Matt’s house in North Fork, CA

A sweet cat, a friendly goat, chickens. . .lots to explore. Was very very hot.

My best friend died the day before yesterday. He was 47 years old and had a liver transplant having been diagnosed with a rare disease Primary sclerosing cholangitis sometime around 1994-5. Forgive me if I don’t remember the exact date; he and I were classmates at the University of California in Santa Barbara studying geography at one of the best geography campus in the country. We took all the earth system science classes before climate change hit the news ways. Forrest was brilliant, acing the complicated interweaving of our planet’s physical systems. His shortcoming was computers, but everything else melded together in perfect symmetry—he’d explain things to me, we studied together. Turned out he had a crush on me. We’d lope across campus at a quick pace to cover the distance between classes. It was there, right at the bike crossing when he told me about the diagnosis: PSC, but he made me say the whole name.

I got hit by a bicycle and bruised my arm and nicked my ankle.

Forrest was hit by something much worse.

The treatment for PSC is liver transplant.

Years passed with the diagnoses locking down. Lots of drugs and hospitals all of which Forrest hated. He sickened turned yellow, actually orange, bloated, weak, was often in pain, could barely eat, yet he’d smile, he’d laugh, he’d get out the telescope to study the sky. He was a geographer to the core. He never missed listening to Car Talk or watching an episode of Jeopardy. He had a child that loved dinosaurs. He moved to North Fork to be near his son and lived his life. He got sicker, and sicker and sicker. The medical social system was cruel. He had to fight for everything and Forrest is not a fighter, he was made of love and curiosity. They make you wait when you need a liver transplant until you’re almost dead before your turn is approved for the surgery. Forrest almost died on the table, we didn’t think he’d survive but he did.

He did!!! We were overjoyed! But recovery was difficult, Forrest needed frequent aftercare treatment, he needed a lot of pills….pills he didn’t want to take. He developed severe depression.  In a man who was inherently cheerful and full of life this was a shock. It was bio-chemical but it changed Forrest. They treated the depression and it helped but he wasn’t the same, he started to worry and fret about things. He started to over-do, he was everyone’s fix it guy, especially if it was mechanical. His collection of cars were like living creatures to him–each with their own soul, their complicated history that he cherished.

He finally found love, he was missing this for a very long time…romantic love.

A few years ago I was ready to purchase the 6 acres that Forrest lived on in North Fork. We decided to share the place. I wanted land and a home, Forrest wanted to remain where he was in an aging double wide on a gorgeous parcel. He’d help me build a house and he’d pay me rent. I made the seller / landlady a good offer, she laughed at me, demanding an inflated price which she never got (her final sale years later was lower than my offer.)  Lots of bad things happened, she drove Forrest off his home, she showed us how evil lurks waiting for expression, her devilment was the death of her husband, it unleashed a raging greed. Forrest had to leave and that drove him nearly crazy, he went to live with his girlfriend but was forced to give away too many of his precious cars and other vehicles and equipment. Honestly the place was a mess; Forrest had lost his neat gene, it  dissolved with toxic accumulation of ongoing medications and treatments. The place could have been cleaned up with some help. Believe me, I know how hard it is to do everything yourself, on your own.

Forrest and me looking at property for me to buy

Then finally things started to really improve, Forrest was able to buy a plot of land with the help of his folks. Forrest could not work a traditional money earning job, nor pursue a vocation, nor utilize his brilliant mind because of the enormous cost of medical treatments…it was necessary that he remain on funded aide to pay those bills. He dreamed of doing his masters, maybe more but it didn’t happen. Getting the land was an anxiety ridden tortuous process but he preserved. The land was inexpensive as it needed extensive clean up. He toiled, he labored, he joined work parties and shared, he did everything for others in the hopes they’d do a little for him. He’s the collective, cooperative, potluck, home-grown local music and drum circle bonfires with friends type. Honest, sincere, he meditates in silence; yes, sometimes moody and sensitive. He’s a go-getter…. oh I keep forgetting to say “was” Forrest will always be alive to me.

Forrest really hears a person when they speak, he asks questions rather than dictating what another thinks, he weighs things before giving an idea and his ideas tend to be brilliant or at least in line with a persons true self. There is laughter and goodness. He pays attention and uses his brain, his shortcomings revolve on his internal processes. I’ve seen him get bogged down working himself into an endless loop with a problem that requires a solution he doesn’t like.

So once he obtained his property something wonderful happened. Forrest became Forrest again, there was ground under his feet. Something to give him pride and confidence. This happened recently; he showed me how he cleaned up the parcels…two of them together making a 5 acre spread right in the center of California in North Fork. He had everything to live for, things were smoothing out with his girl friend, the future was looking bright. The last conversation he and I will ever have, he told me that I too needed to get property, it made all the difference, it gave him happiness and he was sure it was what I needed too. Working on your own place, building what you want, what you need.

Not yesterday, but the day before he planted roses on his land, he worked hard in the sun. It’s hot in North Fork this time of year; there was a lot of hard labor to be done. He came home to take a nap, woke around 8 o’clock feeling dizzy, then he lost consciousness. His girlfriend performed CPR heroically until the medics arrived; she was there with him, she said it was a peaceful death.

There are scores of us in shock, maybe hundreds, Forrest was well loved.

He got to see the LT, he liked it. I expected him to be around to continue to read my blog, to continue to share his rants, his joys, his discoveries, to continue to listen when I felt lost, to be the one who knows all about me and who understands. His girlfriend’s home is crowded, her family have gathered ’round, friends are pouring in support. I am alone. I miss Forrest and it’s only the beginning.

Only one more thing, Forrest and I had a falling out. there was a long time when we didn’t talk every week or every other week.  It only ended recently, I was sad about it, but now I know it was practice, it gave me practice for the long haul ahead.

Yes these walls are made of Straw Bale!

In his youth

He kept that look all his life. . . it would turn into a smile 🙂