There is a lovely little book I have with some one hundred suggestions to simplify life. It was a throwaway book – a gift book that one of my sisters grabbed for me for a Christmas present a year or so ago, and I absolutely adore it. I’ve been reading through it – though it is small, it’s not the sort of thing that you just whip through and put another notch in your belt (or however yall count the books you’ve read in any given year). No, no. This is one you have to stew over, chew on, and meditate with.
One of the more difficult things in the back of the book helps you to work on honing your intuition. Practice, it says. Keep a journal about what bits of insight you followed and what happened, which ones you didn’t, and what happened.
The insight, being of course, that tiny little impluse telling you to do something not entirely out of the ordinary, but certianly not part of the plan. Now, perhaps this comes easy to you, but I am a creature of habit who gets cranky when flexibility is required. And so, yes, I am working on that, and I am indeed much more flexible, in that cosmic sense, that I’ve ever been before. Still, it is not always an easy thing.
And so there was this morning. Normally, I wake up at five. It makes me happy. I can be up, do all of the morning type things I like to do with plenty of time not to be rushed in doing them. I can be at work at seven, or there abouts, and take advantage of the flexibility of my schedule. Of course, part of the flexibility of my schedule is that somethings aren’t flexible – appointments, meetings, events, and such, and me without a car, I’d prefer not to have to go to and from work more than once a day. But I didn’t wake up at five this morning. I managed to hit the snooze for 2.4 hours, coming in and out of consciousness, having weird NPR dreams of congressmen having annurisms (which turned into my brother-in-law having one, yick), and young girls being molested not just by Roman Catholic priests but by Independent Baptist Ministers in the Ozarks (to which my sleepy state responded in an already written letter rant to NPR being read on the air, that damn skippy there was nothing in the Bible about it being okay to sexually touch kids, and that in fact Jesus has this crazy tendency to side with those without power – widows, orphans, foreigners, the poor, the sick, the marginalized of society. Those whose voice carries less weight. I was much more ranty in my dream.)
But the point is that when I got up, after I showered and meditated, before I contemplated the rest of the soy milk and some sort of breakfast, I had this weird urge to check my email. Viktor was blessedly unearthed, due to last night, and though I enjoy checking email and reading the news online when I have a bit of extra time in the morning, that hasn’t happened lately and as I mentioned, I am a creature of habit. But I got him out and opened him up, getting dressed as he came back to himself and rationalizing that a half hour wasn’t going to hurt, particularly when I’d already considered just how late I was going to be at work tonight. (Tonight, dear friends, is the Greening of the Church. All of my christmas albums, the chef is making chili and corn bread, and we expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 members of the congregation to stop by and help out. Everything was delivered yesterday. Seven trees, two ropes of garland, more pointsettias than you can shake a stick at… Smells wonderful.)
And so I checked my email. And found out that a friend had died last night.
He had had a pretty ugly battle with leukemia that lasted less than three years, but I remember him as I first met him, the husband of a good friend. A quirky and loving couple, they loved music and between them could play nearly every instrument in symphony orchestra, as well as fix most of them. Anglophiles, helped out by the fact that Holly’s mother was in fact, born in England, together Holly and I would knit, drink tea (or single malt whiskey, depending on the day), watch britcoms and laugh.
Rob had a great sense of humor – subtle and bitting, but not so bitting as to be cruel. There was always an undertone of love, and it was always very clear.
Though old enough to be my parents – Holly just barely, though her oldest son is just a year younger than I am, we try not to think about that too hard – they are my friends. I told Fran one day that this is definitely the downside to having a lot of intergenerational friends: the odds are good that you’re going to have to say goodbye a lot. She kindly pointed out that I could be killed by a bus tomorrow, which of course is true. I could have been killed on October 21st, on the 33.
I’m still going to go to Holly’s ordination in North Carolina in a few weeks. I’m still looking forward to it. And yet, it was when I had hoped to say goodbye to Rob, spend some time with him for what, realistically speaking, was going to be the last time.
She told me long ago, and we talked about it just recently again that she knew she wasn’t going to get a chance to grow old with him. They had only been together for ten years, and he was older that she by about that same margin. But even so, somehow she knew, beyond even the age thing. There are many parts of those conversations that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, but there’s one thing in particular that has stuck with me, and maybe always will. “When you know your time is limited, you don’t fight about the little stuff. Who cares who is right? Do you really want to spend your time angry? So we don’t fight.” And they lived that out.
That wisdom has stayed with me, and I hope one day to be able to put it into action myself, because whether we have ten years or seventy, once we get to the end all the years are going to seem slim compared to what we think we’re capable of. Wisdom, born of intuition.
Oh, Holly. Oh, Rob. In a minute when I stop crying I’ll be happy and I’ll be able to celebrate that small part of your life that I got to be a part of. I’ll procure a bottle of single malt whiskey (spey side, if I can, you know me) and I lift a glass to you.
And to Adam. Two years, today. ::blanches:: Oh God. We found him on the 14th, which means he’d died the night before. So, then, Adam and Rob died on the same night, two years apart.
I can’t actually describe how much this sucks.