Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lightening Up, For Now

No more somber posts for the rest of the month. That's how I am getting myself out of trouble. If anyone is strong enough to penetrate the veil from the other side, it would be Cyn. I can hear her. Sort of. She is saying, "Okay, you stop that right now. I mean it. Lighten up, dude."

So, I have a candle burning beside me. And I'm ready to chat.

I want to tell you that after I heard Cyn was terribly ill, I talked to an old friend, LC, a doctor of naturopathic medicine. We had just gotten back in touch after years of not hearing from each other. Naturopaths treat by utilizing the body's inherent ability to heal. They go to medical schools just like doctors, but study ways to tap the body's immunity using alternative methods instead of drugs.

LC immediately offered to present Cyn's situation to his naturopathic medical school, have the institution take her on as a case. Cyn was polite. But she declined. I had left her information, printouts, etc., on alternative healing. But she was hard-headed.

Or maybe she just remembered some of the things she heard me say about the people I ran around with after I moved to D.C. from Alabama, back in the day. When I worked for a company that pretended to hire actual grownups to work there.

I met LC back then, when he was just a boy, really. He was in college, a friend of a man I worked with I'll call V. V. wore black suits and had a stern expression that made him seem as though he was glaring at everyone all the time. He worked with the company's Latin American desk, it was called. After I got to know him, he said he didn't like to take vacations because "we are Latins, you know, if we leave the country, we will be overthrown."

And he wasn't stern at all. He was the least stern man I've ever known. Someone introduced me to V. one day and told me he covered the Lima, Peru nightclub scene when he was so young he wasn't even supposed to be in the clubs. He simply bluffed his way into them.

He continued that style when he went to college, in Boston. One holiday season, he was trying to rent a car with a couple of other Peruvian students and didn't possess something they needed (a credit card, I think). So V. decided to tell the rental agency clerks that the female student with them was "Miss Peru. And we urgently need to drive her to California for the Miss Universe pageant."

V. and his cohorts stomped around the office, going outside to pretend to use the pay phone, conferring in Spanish and calling each other fake names like "Che" in fake deep voices. They thought somehow this would help their case. The bluff didn't work. They never made it to California.

The kidding continued past college. After I had known him for a while, I heard V. was telling people I was a "black widow." That I claimed to be married, but no one had actually met my husband. I ignored this. I hadn't been an editor on the foreign desk long and still was laboring under the misinformation that I was to help save the world.

Then one day I accepted an invite to have coffee with E., who had just transferred to the foreign desk. He was a Tennessee gentleman who had an impressive background as a foreign correspondent. We went down to the deli in the first floor of the building, run by some very intense men, one of whom had barked forcefully at me when I asked him where he was from: "Palestine!"

E. sat with his back to the Deli counter, across from me. We sipped coffee and chatted. E. was telling me about his time in South America when I looked up and saw Mr. "Palestine" holding up a knife with a huge, scary blade, glittering in the sun through the plate glass window.

He pointed to the murderous looking weapon, then mouthed, "You want?" I frowned. What in the world? He gestured to the knife again. This time, he pointed the tip of the blade in the direction of E.'s back. Then he used his free hand to make a quick slashing motion across his neck. "You want to borrow?" he mouthed again, with emphasis. Oh. My. God. I remembered V.'s craziness about the black widow thing. He was obviously bored and had been down there acting up.

And then, E., the lovely man I had just met, saw that I was no longer paying attention to him. So he started turning around to see why. And "Palestine" pretended to be filing his nails with the saber. I had to tell him what V. was up to, and E. laughed like the good sport he was and is, but I swear he was nervous around me for a good long while.

And "Palestine" continued to offer me murder weapon loaners whenever I went in, which ended up being not such a bad thing. Because I always was waited on tout de suite, and given extra items, no charge, after being identified as a possible serial husband killer. I mean, respect in the big city is hard to come by. I had to take mine where I could get it. I was, after all, very busy pretending to believe I was saving the world.

It was V. who introduced me to LC and his brother, French-Nicaraguan college students in D.C. They had worked with their mother, a network television news fixer in Managua and that's how V knew them. LC was funny and sweet and fell in with our group of friends immediately.

LC and I were such good friends that he was one of the first people I told when I split up with the husband no one ever much saw. Yes, readers, I allowed him to live. But LC graduated and went to medical school in the upper northwest. I remarried and had a child and we simply lost touch. When I heard about Cyn I had just found LC on Facebook. When I told him about her plight in passing, he immediately wanted to help.

We talked on the phone. It was wonderful to hear his voice. It was as though only a few weeks had gone by instead of years. We laughed and caught up and conspired to "fix" Cyn. It would be hard. She would need to change everything. Lifestyle, diet, emotional, spiritual, everything would need to be tapped.

But she couldn't be persuaded to try that route. She didn't say why and I knew I couldn't make her. Especially a Cyn, whose will was mammoth.

I don't understand why she had to leave. But I am learning to look at what she brought to us. As Spellbound said in a comment, "I have to believe she accomplished what she came here for."

So I am looking at what she did manage, at least in my life, the micro view I guess. She brought LC back into my life, for one. And I am hearing from people from my hometown I've been out of touch with for decades. I mean, my classmates have always been quick to plan a reunion. If no one was interested in a big one, we had a small gathering, at a restaurant or a home. Cyn was a big part of that, she loved a get-together, wouldn't miss one. But I am amazed at the people I am hearing from now.

Because each day brings another person, someone I knew as a little girl or met as I edged toward womanhood. All of them I thought had been lost to time.

So one by one we open the circle, extending a hand and bringing in another person here, another one there. Then we grasp hands again, making a larger circle, holding on tight and closing in and moving toward and around a tiny figure in the middle, someone we can no longer see but know is there. Because she is drawing us in, her pull unfathomable but, now, seemingly without limit.


  1. Wonderful post. Yes. When people die, I think the ones who loved them pull the wagons into a circle and fall in love with each other. I have experienced this. It is a gift the dying give us. Enjoy and use it well.

  2. Which begs the question will the circle stay fast? We have always been a tight bunch anyway. So, we will see. As always, thank you for your thoughts, Ms. Moon!

  3. Glimmer,
    I thought of you and Cyn on Saturday when Bama won. What a day. What a game! Since my Georgia was out of the running, I, of course, was rooting for Alabama.

    [Incidentally, I have the most enormous crush on Nick Saban. What a hottie!]

    I am glad you are starting to come more to terms with Cyn's death. She sounds remarkable. I wish I had known her.

    Much love to you,


  4. We know Cyn exerted influence and caused her Tide to play so well! She was I swear their biggest fan in the world. And you know that is saying something! Thank you for pulling for the Tide, too, and of course Nickie helps with that. Much love back!

  5. What an interesting group of friends.
    Love the whole black widow thing and pretending to file nails with the knife. Funny.
    Glad you found LC again and others.
    Hope you keep writing it out.

  6. Bethany -- finding these people again has been the silver lining. And I don't think I have a choice re writing it out! Thank you for reading, for bearing with me, really.

  7. I hope that the circle holds fast and life doesn't disrupt it. I believe that life sometimes gets in the way more than death.

  8. I'm going to do my best to keep it that way, Syd. It's the only thing that helps.