Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Saying Farewell to Childhood Friends

Twenty years have gone by and I cannot comprehend the volume of time that has past. Some days it feels like a mere blink, and I am unchanged. And then the moments come where I feel as if I have burned to the ground and rebuilt myself many times since the girl I was then. The way time feels is not constant.
And yet, twenty years later, my graduating class found ourselves together again. Many of us hadn’t seen each other in that stretch of time and yet it did not stand between us. None of us were the same, but we were familiar. We’ve all had life happen. We’ve all taken uncertain paths in the search of knowledge, success, happiness. We’ve struggled through dark days. We’ve felt more complex emotions than we could have imagined when we were last together, both sorrow and joy, and all of the shades in between. It alters.
            It was a good weekend with old friends. I wanted to know if everyone was happy. I wanted to see that everyone was well.
Then there came the point in the evening where we took a moment to acknowledge our classmates who are no longer with us. It was a longer list than I expected. Some died through illness, some through choice, others through horrible accident. I didn’t know them all very well but I remembered them from our hallways. A few of them I had known about, but two names in particular were a shock to me.
One was my neighbor and childhood friend, Tracy Lee Flint, Jr. We called him T.J. growing up and he begrudgingly permitted me to call him that during high school. We weren’t terribly close as teens, having grown up and out in different directions. But neither of us forgot those days of our childhood together, playing summer-long games of mock war and re-enacting Star Wars. With his dark hair he was always Han Solo.
Another was my friend, Christina Adkins, who we called Tina. She moved away, but before then she was one of my five closest girlfriends. We were a tight bunch, all dealing with our own personal turmoils together, spending most of our time outside of school together. I hoped that someday we would all find happiness, but especially her. And I hope she did before tragedy found her. Her ending broke my heart.
I excused myself. I splashed cold water on my face to shake it off, so that I could be there with those still living, and celebrate the times we shared. I was grateful to discover that the many of the bonds we made then were still strong.
A week later, I sat on the shores of Lake Ontario, a sadness sitting in my chest, with the desire to transform that emotion into something else. We create rituals every day. They’re about intention. That’s where the magic lives. So I conjured some to let the spirit world know that I remembered those who were lost.
I used what was available around me, my voice, the water before me, and what was washed ashore at my feet. I collected pieces of driftwood, one for each of my fallen classmates, and walked out to the end of the pier, the land falling away behind me. I waited until the tides turned outward.
I repeated the names of the dead out loud, including those of my childhood friends. I wished them peace. I wished them freedom from pain. I wished their families a balm for their grief, and a return to joy.
I sang a song to the water and the wind. I wished my living classmates safe travels, health, and happiness to their last breath. I know we will lose more as the years pass. It’s a part of life, this living and dying business.  

I watched the waves carry the water-polished wood away. I watched the waves carry my prayers away, my heart brighter. I remember.

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