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 lives...as 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."
©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.