November 17, 2008

No One Can Take Their Life

My heart is full and my eyes well over remembering my beautiful friend John, his heart of gold and his angelic face, his ongoing quest for truth and his service to so many.

John, only 30 years old, was hit by a train in the wee hours on November 7. We could say it was a suicide and who really knows? It seems likely and the facts are: man in the dark, train, impact, death.

And if it was a suicide? Even in his apparent overwhelm and self-doubt, I always trusted him to know what was best for him, and I trust him still. I do this without condoning a violent end to any life; rather, I trust him, knowing that what he was experiencing in his mind had to be very, very violent for him to want to end it in this way...for him to be unable to turn to another way.

I feel what I would call a loss today, and yet what a gift to my world he continues to be.

One morning last week, I was feeling some regret that I hadn't stayed in closer touch with John more recently, as if that would have made a difference. So I did The Work on the thought, "John took his life," and I saw how I think life is ours to give and take, and that life means individual if the death of his body means he died. John is the Life, as are all of us; his was a dear, dear expression of the Life. I can't stop seeing him in my mind's eye and loving him. He didn't take that.

My turnarounds were "John did not take his life" and also "John took his life;" choosing perhaps the life that seemed preferable to him at the time of his death; death of the body-mind. Who says so-called life is better and higher than so-called death? Why do I see his death as a tragedy? Should he have stayed here for anyone else's sake?

"I took John's life," believing in his death as well as imagining him taking his life in different ways (I didn't yet know how he died at the time I did inquiry). I killed him dozens of times between yesterday and today.

"I took my life." If I think he's dead, a part of me dies.

One turnaround I didn't see, given to me by a friend: "John gave his life." Oh yes, the John I knew/know lived that way, bestowing his gifts so freely. I remember him when he came to Santa Cruz with our friend Rachel as part of their inquiry project; I joined them that day doing The Work with people about prejudice. Rachel and I paired up while John went off on his own, asking people if they wanted to explore; he even "accosted" one of our local characters, a silent clown known as the Pink Umbrella Man. Seemingly everyone was included in John's giving. As people share about him on the public forum dedicated to his life, he makes even more friends.

I want to share a beautiful Katie-quote about death from a long out-of-print book, A Cry in the Desert:

"We look at the survivors of the death of a beloved and we say,'Oh, it's bad.' Not true!...'I didn't do enough. I didn't tell him what I should have before he died. Who is going to take care of me? What am I going to do; he's not here?'....What they call death, I call a Celebration of Life....Death of a close one is a new opportunity to give me what they gave me and to appreciate creatively as I do it."
—Byron Katie

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.


Elizabeth said...

Blessings to you, Carol, to the eternal spirit known as John Wayne Dulaney, and all who love him.

Eloisa said...

I found out about John's death today after reading an alumni magazine from college. I immediately remembered how John was a timely blessing in my life. It all happened when I had first arrived in the college campus from Mexico, my native country. We were required to take some medical exams that costed about 40dlls. Sitting inside the clinic I wondred how I was going to pay that money. I don't know if John read my mind, but he handed me 40 dlls, smiled, and walked away. He was sent by God...and his life is a gift. I'm honored to have met him...and I know I'll see him again...

Anonymous said...

I just found this website a few days ago. I learned of John's death nearly a year ago. John was my very dear friend during my jr and sr years of highschool. Finding time for everyone he some how managed to work my prom into his schedule. I am 28 now with two wonderful children. Throughout the past ten years I have longed for and missed John. I have prayed for him more than I have prayed for myself or most around me. He and I would take road trips, walk neighbor hoods and pray beyond the numbness of our knees in order to do the work of our Father. I am not sure why my brother's life ended but if John in anyway harmed himself I know he was in a very dark place. Regardless of opinion the fact remains John's precious spirit will live on forever in my heart and everyone who had the honor to meet him.

Anonymous said...

I too had the privelage of knowing John while in I was in high school. John's spirit and love for our Father was something I admired. I longed to have that Faith and endurance to do God's work. I just recently, in the past few days, learned of John's death and was deeply saddened by it. I have thought about him many times over the years and thanked God for the blessing that John was on my life, especially my spiritual life. I could have listened to John sing praises to our King all day. Im sure his tragic death has been so hard for those that he touched, and there are many. I pray that his memory will live on and I have faith that I will see him again someday!

Anonymous said...

John was my cousin. I only got to meet him a couple of times as we were not raised together. I cherished being around him! He touched my heart and was so easy to talk to! I have a son that has his eyes!! So I often think of him when I look at my son! I did not know how he passed and came upon this site!!!!

Anonymous said...

John Wayne is my brother I still dont know what all happened alls I know is on that horrifying day I got a call from my step mother and she said there hasnt been a terrible accident and john waynes gone your father and brother michael john dont know yet I thought its would be easier for you to tell everyone I wanna find out more information about what happened to my brother