Bear Cut Rapture 1998 P. Crockett
As I found myself wandering through the valley of deep shadow, with little hope and less direction, my love for Scott burned constant and bright. From deep in my heart, I knew our journey together had not reached its end. Just as I had in the weeks before Scott's passing, I longed to share with him my experiences, to find out how he was doing, and to otherwise share the love with which I was overfull. That had not changed at all. Every day, as my sacred time, I sat down at the computer in my home and wrote long journal entries as letters to Scott, helping to fulfill my deep need for communication with him. On the third evening following his death, I wrote the following:
Think about it, love, for 6 years we did not go one day without at least a phone call, if we found ourselves in separate cities. Most of the time we were privileged to stay together. Now I am faced with not being able to talk to you on the phone, to see you, to kiss you, to get your warmth when I need it most. The very idea is too large for me to digest and too large for me to live with.
Baby, you haven't left me, have you? I know and believe in my heart that we had a relationship that was one of a kind. You were devoted to me with a passionate intensity that came only as a gift from the heavens. You helped me in so many ways to reach my potential, to stand up for myself, to push my limits in art, most of all, you gave me a reason. Life is strange under the best of circumstances, but in your arms, my love, I found always sweet, safe harbor.
In these first days, I want to salute you and to wish you "Godspeed" upon your journey, wherever it has now taken you. You are now whole, your wings rich, shiny, full and strong. God's love plays on your lips. Yes, I, in my mortal form, left behind on this Earth, send you all of my love, in the hopes it will speed and ease your transformation.
You do know, baby, that I have always shown my love for you in any way I can.
But please don't forget about me, baby. My heart is broken and torn in two. I need to know that you are out there/ in here for me. Please send me a sign, give me the ears to hear you, the heart to open up and let in your glory. For now, I live for the day when we will once again fly together. Remember me, and the way we loved each other, and please look out for me. I feel no harm can come to me. If death is the worst that can happen, I fear it not. I seek only reunion with my beloved, both warm and safe at last in the lap of God.
At this point, I'm left with memories, many beautiful memories of the time we had together. I am not ready to let you out of my life. I need your advice, your support, your input. I don't want to have to make it without you.
From here, baby, back at our old computer in our home in the physical realm back on Earth, I send you all of my love. Still, every breath I take is of devotion to you.
Please don't forget me, baby. Be here with me now and henceforth, and let me feel that love!!!
There is no way I could have known as I penned those words that my prayers were being heard, and my deepest questions were to be answered in ways I could have never imagined.
Uncovering a Treasure
Our whole experience together was dream reality was metaphor and yes I have left you with a very rich legacy at this point you don't yet realize how deep
Scott, April 1996 Channeled Writing
In the days following the death, a wonderful circle of family and friends closed tight around me in support, helping keep me tied to Earth. The wisest of them knew that nothing could really be said to take away the pain, to change the awful fact. The rest offered such words of comfort as came to mind, all of us left numb to different degrees by the loss of such a shooting star, one who had lived life so beautifully. But they were all there for me, each seeking to somehow reassure me and to let me know, in their own way, that they would take away from me my pain if it were possible to do so.
Confronted by the mystery and vastness of death, we as a society generally don't have a clue as to how to respond appropriately. When a dead body is in the house, the rules of everyday life and the routine conventions that usually guide us assume an irrelevancy, almost absurdity. Is it the fear of our own mortality? Is it the hugeness and finality of death? Are we made somewhat embarrassed by death, ashamed that another victim has finally lost his or her struggle with the grim reaper? Whatever the reasons, people in grief are often given the message, both expressly and through implication, to rapidly "move on" with their lives. Good mental health requires it, people are solemnly advised. There's no use in hanging on to the past. Life is for the living, and you've still got yours to live. Let the dead bury their own. Time marches on, don't linger. And so on.
From friends and well-wishers, I heard the typical useless admonitions. "Be grateful for what you had." "You're still young; you've got your whole life in front of you." Meanwhile, though I was sure of very little, something in the deepest part of me knew that my relationship with Scott was not yet over. With all my heart I lived for communion with my loved one, and kept that knowledge and longing still, quiet and sacred within my heart. In many ways, my love for Scott was more real to me than the surreal procession of mourning faces and bizarre events now passing before my eyes.
Those days now seem for the most part a blur of grief, pain and longing, but a few encounters stand out in my memory. I was not easy to reach, because my heart was elsewhere, but even in my soul's dark night I began to receive the messages I needed to hear as I was able to hear them. Although I could not have known it at the time, a foundation was being laid for a breakthrough. Even in deepest darkness, I was being guided gently forward on the pathway of healing.
In a sense, the start of that long journey can be marked with the discovery of a poem I found among Scott's treasures. He had been a poet and creative writer, and quite prolific. Dazed by the vastness of his absence and the "cold turkey" deprivation of the warm communion that had become such a part of my life, I began eagerly exploring and reading through his written legacy. Among the first pages I found was a brief poem he had written in his college days, I believe 1981, and typed on an old-fashioned typewriter. I had never before seen it:
starts a life
but not a
ends a life
but not a relationship
The words on the page leapt out at me and resonated deep within. I felt strongly as if I were being given a message from my loved one, a message of comfort. Now, exactly when I needed it most. But why had he written those words years before? What loss had given them birth, and what pain led to the poem's creation? I had no idea. All I knew was that Scott's insight, committed to paper years before, spoke to my heart with a message of freshness and urgency. Yes, honey, I thought, that's exactly what I was thinking. Or daring to hope.
Shortly after finding the poem, I was touched by a conversation with a friend, a respected psychologist who had come to my home to pay his respects. Sitting on the living room couch, responding to his warmth and concern, I shared with him the discovery, and told him of the kaleidoscope of emotions the powerful words had opened up for me. I wasn't sure of much, I told him, I had been shocked to my core, but I felt deep within that things with Scott were by no means suddenly finished simply because he had died. Though in retrospect this early sharing of something so precious and new might seem a great risk, I was guided by instinct.
My friend, with substantial experience over the years on the front lines of the AIDS crisis, surprised me with his response. "Things are definitely going to be different," he responded slowly , "now that Scott's left his body and is no longer in the physical. I think it's great, though, that you're staying open to the possibility of keeping in relation to him, and continuing to grow together. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise; only you can decide what's right for you." In the quiet moment that followed, he looked deep into my eyes. Even as I returned his calm gaze, I felt a stirring deep within my heart. At an early and decisive moment, my innermost feelings were being given confirmation. I could feel a door gently opening. "It's like your relationship has entered a new phase," he continued, giving voice to the sense of my soul. "The challenge for you now will be to find new ways of keeping lines of communication open to him now that he's in the spirit. But why not give that a try that if that's what you feel?"
A few minutes later my friend gave me a hug and said good-bye, leaving me just a little richer than he had found me. But that was only the beginning.
"Paul, There's Something I Really Need to Tell You About"
On the Tuesday morning following the Friday of Scott's death, I woke up and faced the prospect of the day with great reluctance. Full of dread, my heart heavy, I saw no way out. A friend who had slept over saw to it that I ate some breakfast, but I had no appetite. If life is a gift, I was thinking, I'm grateful, thanks, but I'd like to return it, please. I only wanted to be with Scott. But there I was, my other half gone and nowhere in sight, broken of heart and spirit and waiting for the next insult life had to offer. Do your worst, I thought, because there's nothing worse you can do to me. I've already lost my beloved. I returned to my bedroom and cried, too alone for words, feeling like when they got Scott, they'd gotten me too.
Over the course of the day, my spirits were lifted as a number of friends and family members visited and called to offer their condolences. One of the calls in particular touched me deeply. A good friend who had lost his sweet lover Wally to AIDS the year before called to offer his condolences and encouragement to help get me through it. He too had loved deeply, been called upon to pay the price, and had to adjust to life without his partner. Or at least so I had thought. A few minutes into our conversation, he hesitated briefly before going on to say, in a serious tone of voice, "Paul, there's something I really wanted to share with you, something I think you need to know about." After another brief pause, he continued "This may sound strange, but I've been in touch with Wally since his death. It's been an unusual experience, to say the least. I would've never expected it to happen, but it has."
I was taken by surprise. My friend, a successful and aggressive trial attorney who always seemed to me relatively conservative, was the last person I would have expected to hear speaking those words. Again, something deep within me stirred. I was all ears. "It's been amazing," he said. "The first time it happened was a couple of weeks after he died. I was just sitting on the bed bawling my eyes out and remembering him, with our pictures spread out all over the place, and I heard his voice." He paused a moment as I drew in my breath. "And I mean, loud and clear. He told me he's doing great, that he's much better off where he is. He's now complete. He told me to stick with it, and that it was my role to keep on living for a while. But he said 'Don't worry, baby, I'll be right here with you.'"
A chill passed through me as he spoke. I felt the truth of his story, and my mind was reeling with the implications. "It's not like he's speaking physically," he explained, "it's more like I can hear his thoughts. But I swear, it couldn't be clearer. And the message is so Wally. For a while, he would come whenever I called him. I guess I really needed him then. Now he only comes once in a while. But Paul," he repeated, "I just felt it was really important for you to know." We talked a little longer, but I don't remember the substance of the words. The essential information had reached me from the other side, as per plan. One more cornerstone had been laid for my foundation.
Life Goes On, Damn It
…be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer…
Reiner Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
As time passed, each day gratefully putting that much more distance between me and the awful trauma of Scott's death, my pain and my grief continued to take new form. Although I still felt fundamentally displaced, and somehow now ancient, in some ways I felt better, less like I had been physically punched and laid low by the shock. I was beginning to recover my appetite, put myself back together, and to reconcile myself, every so slowly, with the idea of continuing to live for a while. If the pain were less dramatic now, though, it seemed to have penetrated deeper within me, and throbbed with a relentless and quiet intensity. I was still entirely lost.
Grief and its darkness had so rapidly become constant companions in my life, in fact, that I began to feel a little disoriented by the unexpected intervals in which the pain began to subside. Cast into deepest shadow by the death, I had not been able to foresee that the clouds might one day part, and quickly become resigned to the darkness. Consequently, the light that occasionally broke through left me confused. Simply feeling "normal" tasted of sweet ecstasy, but also somewhat unnerved me. When I shared my feelings with a dear friend, she gently offered wise reassurance. "Paul," she said, "don't worry about looking for grief. It will find you."
And I was comforted, for I knew that she was right.
Two weeks after Scott's death, my friend and law partner Gary Franklin wrote for me a poem that came from his heart and became a great gift:
AND I SPIN
In your wake, it seems I spin
I move my feet but can't begin
to find a place where I can stand
And so I spin; they say I spin
In your wake, I ride the foam
Hoping it may lead me home
to a place where I won't have to spin
And maybe let that new day come
In your wake, I'm in a squall
Of waves that toss me high and tall
and crash and froth, then dip and boil
And still I spin, I crest, I fall
In your wake, I cast my hope
That maybe we've just missed one rope
that pulling hard will tug you in
To anchor me, and stop my spin
One overcast morning, I woke up and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked like I felt, which was hellish. My chest was covered with a rash, and my throat inflamed and sore. Since Scott's passing, I had put my own health issues on the back burner and let myself slide into a deep funk. Although I had been HIV-positive for years, I had always enjoyed the luxury of good health and never felt myself to be severely in the danger zone. The image staring back at me from the mirror, however, frankly reminded me of the possibility of my own sickness, warning me that I could not endlessly indulge in fantasies of death and darkest loss without consequence. That morning I realized that as much as I wanted to be with Scott, as much as I burned with longing for him, I was afraid to die. Or, more accurately, I was afraid of sickness.
What was to be my next step? I had no clue. Until my next conversation with my friend Daviea.
To Chapter 7