Saturday, April 26, 2008

I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil

Dawn. A light rain falls on the surrounding hills and all is quiet. A figure ventures down the driveway and into the misty morning. Two are left behind aware only of solitude's harsh embrace. We fear only that which we know, that there will be no returns and that the figure ventures down and out of the mountains for the last time. Simultaneously, a second figure reluctantly steps into a car. The car pulls out and down, following the figure recently departed, leaving a tired crowd behind. The crowd knows that nothing will be the same and that an era has ended. An era has ended out of necessity, and not for the better.

Early this morning, Ross and Jennie left CAP, ending their times and venturing on to bigger and brighter things. In every place you go in life, there are certain people who define that particular place and make it what it is. Ross and Jennie defined this place in many ways.

In J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye Holden Caulfield proclaims, "Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody." I used to think, every time someone close to me left, that this was the most brilliant quotation of all time. However, now I know it to be mostly nonsense. If you took this stance, you would never take the chance of knowing anyone because you would assume that you would one day miss them. You'd never take the time to say that which matters most and your life would be mostly empty. But, this is not the way we live. We share ourselves and then we do miss people. It does not mean that we stop trying to find the people and share with the people we will one day miss. We miss them because we love them, and that is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination.

The memories of these two are seemingly so thick that we have to brush them away from our faces. There was the time we went to Flat Lick Falls in mid-February to jump in the ice cold water. I think we did this as a way to ward off cabin fever. Ross came up with the idea, as he often did, then asked, "you in?" To which I replied as I always did, "you know I am," regardless of how insane the proposal was. There were the hikes at Red River Gorge, the pizza afterwards at the small mountain pizza shop. Shopping late the day before Christmas eve. There were the trips out to the east side forged countless times to see our friends. The pool party with our east side brethren. There were the pranks played on Callista, the Rooster we put in Jennie's room as a special visitor. There was the ski trip to North Carolina with the east side and relaxing the porch on an unusually warm day. The trip to disaster relief and shingling that roof we had no idea how to do. Driving the conversion van around Tennessee (aka "the Perfect Storm-mobile). There were countless masses we went to on Sunday mornings, trips to the Mellow Mushroom in search of good ale and good pizza, the time Ross and I hit back to back dingers (Manny and Big Papi style) in the softball game. And of course, can any of us ever forget the Perfect Storm. Enough said.

We made memories up to their departure. Yesterday was Ross' birthday and last day in Kentucky so I decided we should try chewing tobacco (aka dip). You can not be an official Kentuckian unless you have tried dip. I went into the Shell station and awkwardly made my way to the counter. "May I have a can of your finest chewing tobacco mam?"
"Huh?" she replied with twisted countenance.
"You know, a can of... people chew it."
"You mean dip?" she replied.
"Yes! Yes indeed, dip."
The other man working at the counter rolled his eyes, for obvious reasons.
"Well what flavor do you want, there's apple, peach, vanilla"
The man next to her said, "give him cherry, that's my favorite." So cherry it was.
When Ross and I got back to the house we decided to 'dip' as it were. We took a golf ball sized pinch (although I think that's pretty generous calling it a "pinch") and put it between our bottom lip and our gums. (We would later learn that this was way too much, especially for the first time.) It wasn't so bad at first. Just tasted like cherry flavored dirt in your mouth. And of course you could NOT under any circumstances swallow because it would most certainly induce vomiting. We even had the energy to come up with slogans for the product like "SKOAL, when you're looking for elegance and sophistication you can spit into a bottle, make it SKOAL." Or, "SKOAL, you're dead asshole." Or, "SKOAL, when you want to feel like complete Hell, make it SKOAL." Anyways, after 4 minutes of having this huge bulge in our mouths we started to feel completely awful. I said to Ross, "I feel sick." He replied, "Do you feel sick, because I really kind of do" Our heads were spinning like you wouldn't believe and we could barely walk around. Ross spit his wad off the porch and I quickly followed suit. The next 10 minutes were spent bent over the porch rail spitting and washing out our mouths with expired power aid, trying our best not to vomit. "Why would anyone do this every day!?!" Ross asked. To which I replied, "I guess to feel like a real man...." Jennie just sat there gleefully, watching us spit and hack our way out of misery.

Whenever a member of our fair fellowship leaves us, as I have often mentioned earlier, they commission the remaining work to be done by those left behind. They do not always leave because they want to but because just as they were once called here they are now called away. As Gandalf says in his departure, "Do you not yet understand? My time is over: it is no longer my task to set things to rights, nor to help folk to do so. And as for you, my dear friends, you will need no help. You are grown up now. Grown indeed very high; among the great you are, and I have no longer any fear at all for any of you."

I think Red puts it quite well in The Shawshank Redemption, "I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend."



dies irae said...

Farewells are always tough for some, but I guess that is our hearts longing for the ultimate Communion we will have with one another. However, in the eyes of a "permanent" at CAP, it is a solemn moment to see the departure of those go who give of themselves so generously. Volunteers can leave, enter new surroundings and make friends that eventually distract them from the aching in their hearts...but for us, with every volunteer that comes there is the sobering knowledge that one day they too will continue on the journey away.

Anonymous said...

cheers mate

Anonymous said...

Fr. Russan Cole, the priest who married us, and someone you would have liked very much, used to say it was really important to say good things to people while you had the chance. As a priest, he was at many wakes, and often heard people say kind things about the deceased. He beleived we should simply take the opportunity to say the kind things to them while they are still alive. Yes, it puts us at risk, and often makes for a future lump in the throat, but it is really the best approach. Reminds me of how Gramps was actually.

Nice "hidden" quote from "Field of Dreams".

Not too many things better than back to back dingers.

Wow, straight to the cherry flavor! Gutsiest move I ever saw man!

taye said... have sufficently brought all my feelings up to the surface..what a beautiful little farewell blog for our good friends...very emotional. although i didn't shed any tears until..the part about the dip, then i kinda lost it...

Anonymous said...

as always, my dear friend... well said. you are so very right about moving on- its a strange thing. while i do miss you dearly, i know that ultimately we are all called in different directions during this lifetime and i am called elsewhere. i am simply blessed to have you cross my path along this journey.
its been fun...
even though i hate community!

a.e. nee said...

how perfectly expressed that tension between loving and losing or losing out on having ever loved at all.