Honoring Bill. The Passing of a Great Man.
The leopard print chaise calls to me, out of the fog of memory, from its ashy grave, “Remember me”, it says. “Remember the comfort you used to take as you sat gazing out at your small piece of paradise? When you sat with me, the world made sense. Even if only for a moment. Your life was on a trajectory, heading predictably in the same direction it had been going…”
Now here I sit in a different chair in a different house but with the same cat and the same woven blanket. The intricate weave of the blanket – golds, reds, rust – gleam in the sun, catching the light, catching my attention. Instead of the caws of crows and the wind in the trees, I hear the drone of traffic and the barking of a neighbors dog. I hold both worlds as, yes, we are now happy here – and yes, I miss my life as it was before.
We are on the eve of more changes. Our beloved sponsor and mentor has died. This man, who was a gift to so many, triumphed over cancer until the very end. There are few men like this one. A giant force of love and light who was an awakening balm to so many and an irritant to a few others. Those who loved him could never understand why people might miss the point with this great man. Yet, as with any leader, he was misunderstood by those whose fears were burned by his light. “Ouch”, they said, avoiding the fact that he was pointing not at them, but at the fear they let run the show.
This man was a force to be reckoned with! Brimming with life, physically strong, tall, handsome, intensely intelligent, carrying the wisdom of the ages, with piercing blue eyes and a gravely voice. He stood for the Truth over and over and over again. If that wasn’t enough, add in his cowboy boots, a neat pony tail, a thick mustache and the best bear hug in the world. He had zero tolerance for anything but our willingness to be the gift. Through his dying days, he was that himself. Yes, he had his human moments but he always chose the light – and he always chose love. He held a high standard for the rest of us – and his thundering message will continue to echo in the ears of those of us willing to listen.
Writing these words already has altered my attitude already. I woke up with heaviness. Missing him dreadfully, wondering how we will go on without this great man – and also missing all that was before. Life has continued to change and much of the landscape of my world no longer looks the same. Friendships have altered, we live packed like sardines in another town, the IRS is still hounding us (since October!), my parents health problems are worsening. Life continues to life. And, where would Bill have me look? Certainly not at my frets and worries. He would say, “Be the gift.” And he would say that sometimes gifts come wrapped in barb wire and we are always whining “I wanted the pony! Wah wah wah!”
So I shift my mind to the gifts that are everywhere and I glance around taking stock. This purring cat on my legs, my sweet husband intently working on a project, a Silver bullet beauty who sits in my driveway, the baby 95 pound puppy who has returned to bed – our bed – as the day hasn’t officially begun for him. My friends who send love via text, the warm cup of coffee at my side, going to our meeting later to meet our people as we all feel this pain and loss and will all show it differently yet will share a moment or two of hearts and minds converging.
Change is inevitable. We can’t go back. Clinging to what was is fruitless. Life will keep life-ing. There is no rug. There is nothing we can actually count on. Each of us is doing the best we can – or at least we are if we can look in the mirror and greet ourselves and claim that.
So today, I will rally myself from my funk and join the world. I will love unabashedly and without reservation and continue to learn from our dear Bill. I will be the gift and rise to the challenge. And I will miss that man until my dying days.