Who Are You This Time
John was my best friend.
Over many a late night, drink infused, conversational introspection we talked of past lives, present circumstances and future possibilities. We strongly believed and encouraged each other in our core certainty that this mere mortality which we were coexisting in at that time was not the first instance we had been travelling together and would not be the last.
As John became sicker with time, he and I had many lengthy discussions about death, after-life, and what exactly happens to the “us” that is now and the “we” that we were sure would be coming. We had so much left to do that it seemed unfair and distinctly not possible that this present moment in time was all that we were allowed to have. And so we cemented our belief in our future selves and with the surety of youth and certainly of faith, we proceeded onwards towards John’s untimely death.
We also swore an allegiance to each other that whoever reached that place on the other side of the far horizon of mortality first, they would be SURE to posit a sign, something tangible and unmistakable, that they had indeed arrived and we were, in fact, correct in our earthly beliefs of the hereafter.
After John’s death, another friend of mine, another John, took me to a dinner at a local artist’s home, yet another John, Jean Luis (Hout). We spent the cocktail hour perusing his studio files filled with ghostly haiku images stacked by the hundreds and layered with his personal progression and history. After a lovely dinner as I started to clean up, Jean Luis said to me;
“You’re only obligation is to go and choose any piece of work that speaks to you and take it as my gift”
Immediately and without any forethought, I went rummaging through the stacks until I pulled a simple black on white haiku that read:
It spoke to me of John and our many years of thoughtful ponderance on what would become of us as we left behind this thread of mortality that we so tenaciously clung to.
It has rested, peacefully, on the wall, on my side of the bed ever since, starting and ending each of my days with a wistful thought of the man who was so much my teacher and my friend.
John’s mother, Doris, was also a major part of our lives. A singularly independent woman; statuesque, elegant, a force of nature in her own right. John and I visited her on Maui where they had both lived for many years and then, after John’s death, Doris continued to live on in San Francisco where she had come to help John make his transition out of this world.
Dave and I always made a point of visiting her through the years, going to lunch at the Cliff House, John’s favorite spot, just spending time in the here and now remembering times in the growing distant past.
Somewhere in our moving about the country, we lost Doris and even with the Google and all the new technology I could not turn up her whereabouts. She was getting along in years and we sort of assumed that she might have gone south to family or maybe even gone on to meet up with John on Little Beach once more.
Just last week, I awoke at 4am with a start, still deep inside a vivid dream I was having. John, Doris and I were sitting at a long wooden table under a palapa in Hawai’i having dinner with a large group of people, the rest strangers to me, but it was John and Doris who were almost sparking, electric, with their presence. I was instantly awake, alert and on point, something was propelling me…..out of bed, onto the computer, firing up the Google and typing in Doris’ name.
Within a moment, there was her obituary from a Riverside, CA newspaper……from just 3 months earlier. I had found her and my immediate thought was “too late”. In the obit, much was mentioned about John and her devotion to him and her care of him as well as the rest of her family. I was not sad, just curiously alert and reassured in some odd measure.
After a day or so of ruminating on this it became abundantly clear….just as Jeff Foxworthy would say “here’s Your Sign!”….this was what I had been waiting 25 years to experience. John was “there”, wherever “there” is, with Doris……and me, a me that is yet to come, sharing a meal, watching a sunset and reveling in past lives and future glories.