Friday, March 21, 2014

Any Time

The day after it had been a year since Carlos died, I felt a noticeable relief, the sense of a weight lifting. This means either that it really does take a year for a major loss to become somewhat metabolized, or, more likely, that my therapist jinxed me by saying it was “just going to be an effing hard year.”

When I was at Rainbow last Sunday, as always, I looked at each cashier, hoping my favorite might be back. More than a year ago, she switched to a different area of the store, and then she fell ill and was not seen for months, until, all of a sudden, I saw her at the cash register one Sunday last November. But her return to work was premature and I looked for her in vain until last week. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw her beloved face. We had a joyful reunion, with hugs.

It had been all the worse not to see her again after that one time in November because I knew it meant she was suffering, and therefore it was all the more wonderful to see her, knowing she must feel better, and indeed she looked reassuringly well. She told me her news and I told mine, including my rather tongue-in-cheek hypothesis that my therapist had jinxed me by predicting a hard year, but my friend said perhaps it is just that such rituals (perhaps she meant the traditional year of mourning) are important, and I suppose she’s right.

A couple of days after the anniversary, Charlie accompanied me to the weekly poetry event at the Sacred Grounds café, for an evening of remembering Carlos. The last time I was there was right after he died, and it was packed, but on this evening, there were only about 12 people there. One of the regulars told me that after Carlos died, two other members of their group followed suit; she speculated that it just makes people too sad to attend. I brought along a lot of photos of Carlos for people to look at and take away, plus the framed photo of him to put on the wall.

When I spoke, I told the story of how we got together, and reflected on what a great last year he had: his book was published, he traveled to his homeland of El Salvador once again, he had a 25-years-younger new girlfriend and also reconnected with a longtime partner who was very important to him. Excellent final year! And I read a few selections from his journal, including a lyrical rumination about a sunny morning. The beautiful words he left behind are a treasured gift.

This was probably not done; he might have revisited and refined, but here is the piece. Also I will note that, despite the “God,” he was not a believer in the traditional sense.

A Meeting of Minds 

Morning Play

God, bird chirp
cool winds
born breeze
rising from the East
circle solar beast
soaring up and up
above a linear line
appears and disappears
a patch of yellow scene
it swoops about
there’s shades of pink
yellow countries in the sky
airplane noises roaring by
tweeter tickles for the ears
yellow splotches dance about
solar panel dance floor
solar signal rising high
airplane signal written out
celestial buzz comes in and out
take a breath
for the ride you’re on
man made earth made
phenomena song


—Carlos Ramirez, 4/7/12

One person I’d been looking forward to seeing at Sacred Grounds was Don Brennan, Carlos’s closest male friend, but Clara told me that he’d had pneumonia and, after leaving the hospital, had been ordered by his doctor to rest at home for two months.

So I was quite shocked this past Tuesday when someone at Howie’s told me that Don had died the day before, a year and a week after Carlos. I thought Don, who was near 80, was going to rest up and be better! But, no, he relapsed and went back to the hospital and passed away.

Anything can happen at any time.
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