I have a little habit of reading the obituary column in the newspaper, a habit I picked up from my grandmother. She'd sit at her Formica kitchen table every morning drinking Red Rose tea with cream and sugar (very English) while pouring over the obituaries in the Boston Globe.
The Globe is a good sized newspaper harboring column after column of deaths in tiny lettering, unlike our local paper where most of us don't need a magnifying lens to read the print.
When I see the name of someone I know it feels like a punch in the chest and within the last month or so, I've had a couple of punches.
Last month, my friend Steve died. As an artist, he created hundreds of oil and acrylic abstracts and silk screened scarves. He also worked as a rehab counselor, dubbed himself a beekeeper--with ten or twelve hives in his back yard, had a dry wit and always made me laugh. His office walls were covered with full-sized kites -- stop light red, kelly green and lemon yellow -- with sperm-like tails stuck into position with staples and push pins. Kites have always reminded me of freedom. Now they remind me of Steve.
Steve escaped the grim reaper for a few years after his diagnosis and then its knock came back with a vengeance. The last time I saw him, it was during his remission three years ago. We ate dinner at the Cantina in Walnut Creek and talked about life, our careers, and his fearlessness about dying.
And just this morning, I read about Eddi. Eddi and I found our way to each other through a mutual friend in grad school. I used to think we were a lot alike until I read her obituary today -- she was literally classified as a genius. (no wonder she didn't understand how I could never make friends with statistics or my inability to grasp the concepts all things involving numbers...).
She had a zest for life that shot out through her eyes -- I've still not met anyone whose eyes could out-sparkle those blue dazzlers. They were a mixture of excitement, curiosity and fun -- that made me want to jump behind them to see whatever it was she saw.
We shared a teary goodbye one foggy morning at the Safeway parking lot ten plus years ago when she, her husband, and their cat moved to Washington. Then we lost touch.
Their deaths remind for me to be conscious and grateful for the everyday things in life --the tight squeeze around my neck from Sammie or JD, Baby Kyle's cuddle and his contagious giggles, a sweet kiss good night from Rick, the simple yet so important conversations with family, friends--and strangers.
Here's to staying conscious~
Writing prompt: 'When I look in your eyes ......' (write for 20 minutes about the first set of eyes that come into your mind -- doesn't matter if it's true or not)