“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”
~~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I was thinking about something last night that led to a real sense of mortality.
When I moved to Kansas City a little over thirty years ago to live with my dear friend Kaththea. I was in my early twenties. I loved her so very much I thought maybe I could be straight–could be what she needed me to be and what I thought I needed to be. This was back when I thought there was a very, very real chance that I was going to burn in hell for being me.
And I did love her. Very much. I really did.
At that time, my world was a wonderful handful of people. I had moved from a place that I had lived for nearly ten years and knew lots of people, to a place where I knew almost no one.
I knew Kaththea and her twin sister Linad. I knew their friend Dani Lites. I met her the same weekend I met them, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy World Convention in Chicago. Arriving in Kansas City to live I soon met Ed Moore and right after that, this lady he was dating named Judy. Thos five people became my real and really only friends.
We became very, very good friends. Our big thing was role-playing games. We had one called The Other People that we made up from a conglomerate of rules from D&D, Superheroes, and a couple other games. The idea was that our characters lived today, in an alternate reality, where superheroes and vampires and the occasional aliens might show up.
And we had fun!
In real life there was a wedding, three children (one was mine and Kath’s, two were Ed and Judy’s), trips and vacations all over the country (including MA, CA, LA and Texas), and so much more.
We were tight. Very, very tight.
Time allowed though for breakups (I finally came out and while the first year was rough, Kaththea and I wound up staying friends, thank God), Ed and Judy split up (and awhile later got back together, thank God) and I got into my first serious relationship with another man and Dani slipped away from our lives (she had some issues that caused her to loose friend after friend after friend, including—sadly and for the most part—us).
I get this call from the Kansas City Star. It seemed that this growingly more and more popular blogger named Dani Lites had died and they were doing an article on her. They interviewed me. And after a few seconds of soul searching, I told them only wonderful and marvelous stories about Dani—not one bad one. It seemed she died with no friends and was being buried by the city in an unmarked grave. This little article would be her legacy. Who was I to make it anything but perfect?
Along the way Ed found a big lump in his chest. He wouldn’t go to the doctors because he didn’t have insurance but assured us that he had a new job and as soon as the insurance was activated, he would go. It did and he did, and after an initial visit with a GP, got an appointment with an oncologist…. Months from then! Possible cancer and the soonest the [Kansas City Oncologist I Cannot Name As I Might Be Sued] would see him for even a consultation was months later. When he finally went he was told it was too late, that he needed to say his goodbyes. I was livid. I told him to go where I used to work, Heartland Hematology Oncology. They fought to keep him alive. Thing is? If he had only come in a few months earlier they could have saved him.
And Judy? She had tons of health issues. In fact, when we met all those years ago, she had just survived lung cancer when everyone had told her she wouldn’t make it. She did. But as the years passed, one illness after another struck her. She survived and she survived and she survived…. And then finally she lost.
Not two years ago, Kaththea (who had never remarried or even dated) and the mother of my child went into the hospital and never came out. She was there for a long time.
She’s gone now.
So all that’s left is me and Linad.
The legacy is almost gone. And there are few who will remember them. They weren’t famous. They weren’t movie stars or politicians or Kardashians. They weren’t rich. They were never in the news. They didn’t change the world or thousands of lives in the world.
But they changed mine.
They changed me.
They taught me.
I wouldn’t be the man I am today without their significant influences in my life.
And I’ve lost so many, many friends through the years…. Joanne P and Joe G and Celeste G and Cindy M and David M and Stephen B and Julie H and Bea O and Dee W and John V and…and so many.
But today I am thinking so very much of Kaththea and Ed and Judy and Dani….
So many memories. Babies. Growth. Ed taking me out drinking when I first moved here so I wouldn’t feel so isolated and then holding me tight one night when I was very lonely. The hilarious antics I got into with Dani and how she got me involved in Kansas Cith fandom. Judy helping me clean my new apartment when I moved in with my first husband—and this was when she and Ed had just broken up! She was helping me make my new life when she felt hers was ending. Parties. Conventions. Weekend getaways. Laughter and tears. Drunken binges. Hangovers. Being there for each other. Helping each other. Moves. Beginnings. Endings. New beginnings. So much. So very much.
And today I miss them. I really miss them. I ache for them. I want to see them and talk to them and laugh with them….
Why am I here and they’re gone? Accident? Cosmic plan? Joke? Fate? Is it just the way it is?
I miss them….
And I am grateful—so very grateful—that I had them in my lives.
And I am so grateful to be alive.
I hope in some way, in my limited time on this planet, that I can be their legacy.
Our friends remain alive in our memories.
And I will keep them alive for as long as I can draw breath.
Goodbye my friends.
You are in me.
“There is no death, daughter. People die only when we forget them,’ my mother explained shortly before she left me. ‘If you can remember me, I will be with you always.”
~~ Isabel Allende, Eva Luna