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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Tribe You Build

I have a lot to be grateful for.  Not the least of which is an amazing circle of family and friends.  It's been, as I have mentioned, a bittersweet weekend.  I cannot begin to tell you the excitement I felt all last week in anticipation of my birthday weekend.  Wes and Kiva had arrived on Monday, my sister Loke and my brother-in-law Phil would be coming on Friday, and for weeks, I had been planning with "my girls"; Kim, Kendall, and Erica, all the fun things we were going to fill the weekend with.  Not one second was disappointing.  It was completely and utterly over-the-top joyful.  I was surrounded by light, and love, and laughter.  My wonderful "halo" of beautiful souls gathered and made me feel like the center of the universe.  From Friday lunch, to Sunday goodbyes, I wouldn't have changed a thing.  Well, perhaps one thing.

As Lokelani and Phil were at the door and we were exchanging goodbye hugs, my phone pinged.  I had been off of social media all weekend.  I was having way too much fun to stop and stick my nose into the screen of a phone.  After all, nothing was more important than what was happening in my immediate universe.  Perhaps selfishly, I didn't want to be dragged down by politics, I didn't want to hear anymore about Irma, I couldn't watch anymore heartbreaking videos or news of devastation.  Just for this weekend, I was going to feel only joy.  Almost made it.  I picked up my phone and looked at it, and saw what I first perceived to be some kind of sick joke.  Someone had posted a RIP comment about a friend.  My instant thought was; "Oh, it's his birthday weekend too.  Someone's making a funny about his age."  Caris saw my face and said; "What, Mommy?"  I said the words out loud; "Someone just said Scott Barnes died.  That's a joke, right?"  I saw her face drop.  "I'm so sorry." She said.  "Averie and I knew last night.  We had hoped you wouldn't see anything until later today when everyone went home."

It's a very good thing there was an ottoman behind me, because I literally fell off my feet.  I left my sister and brother-in-law standing there at my front door, mouths open, while I lost my face in my hands and sobbed.  No. No. No.  We just had birthday greetings.  We do Birthday Darling Martinis. No. This is NOT happening.  After a few moments, I pulled myself together enough to properly thank Loke and Phil and see them off.  Then I went right back into the house where I asked Caris to fill me in.  I didn't want to see post after post because I knew FB would be flooded.  She explained to me what she knew.  I sobbed again.  Charlie, Caris, and Bryson gave me loving embraces and told me how sorry they were.  Caris said she and Averie knew I would lose it.  They were right.  They know me.

The world went cold.  I was a zombie the rest of the day and into the night, and into the next day.  I could only process enough to think of the happy day that we finally met face-to-face and share that memory with the FB community.  Monday afternoon, as Charlie and I went to have a bite to eat, I talked about Scott all the way to the restaurant.  I ordered a Birthday Darling Martini, and Charlie and I toasted Scott.  I cried. He hugged me.  I opened Facebook.  The minute my friend Jeffrey Ricker appeared back on FB after having been gone from it for years, I knew it was real.  His appearance back on that platform solidified the heartbreak.  He said exactly what I knew he would say, and all I was feeling. FUCK. FUCK. FUCK.

Charlie began talking about services; the when, the who, the what.  He told me to go.  Always the generous soul, my husband.  I kissed him on the cheek, he hugged me back. 

"Listen." He said. "We've had this conversation a million times.  You have this amazing network of friends all over the place.  You've always blown me away with the way you've gathered your tribe.  At the beginning, all those years ago, I was scared for you.  I mean, how do you trust?  Who do you know to trust?  It's scary 'out there'.  And yet, your soul knows, and your big heart trusts, and for some reason, it's always been a good thing, this blog world of yours.  It's brought you family.  I've learned to enjoy that benefit with and for you."

I agreed.  I talked about the many disappointments and betrayals of people who actually share your 3D world.  The ones who called you friend, but hurt you and damaged your trust.  The ones who made you hesitant to open yourself.  But, writing on a platform and sharing who you were, and naively thinking perhaps as an ironic form of protection, that you were pouring your soul into an abyss, it was safe.  No one was reading anyway, right?  How wrong I was.  How joyfully wrong.  That Abyss, which was the original name of my blog, had eyes.  Those eyes were attached to hearts and souls, like mine.  One of those souls wrote to me and said my blog was poorly named, and he offered up Warm Cookies (Thank you, Toddy).

The tribe grew.  From coast to coast, and across the pond, and way down under, it grew.  At the same time, each member of my tribe allowed me to join theirs.  We loved each other through our sorrows, our grief, our celebrations, our joys, our victories.  If you go down the link list on the home page of my blog, you will see names that may mean nothing to you.  But they are the world to me.  Time passes, lives move forward, Facebook happened and the blog world took a dive.  However, it all started there.  It just moved to a different platform.  One with less words, and honestly to me, one with less heart and soul.

The difference I guess, is that we built this foundation a long time ago.  Those of us who started there were once faceless to one another, but as my friend Steve once wisely said; "There is no faking the soul."  This treasured tribe so dear to me, no matter where the wind blows our lives, we are bound.  Some of us have had the great joy of actually meeting face-to-face.  Some of us are still looking forward to that day.  But seeing one another in our 3D worlds doesn't change the depth of our love, admiration, respect for one another.  Seeing each other just adds a new dimension of joy.

Sadly, this blog has been quiet for awhile.  But when something shakes me off-kilter, it is still the place where I run.  Yes, the loss of a dear, sweet friend has rocked me to my core, and here I am for therapy.  This may not be read, and it may not mean anything to anyone but me.  I have many, many posts here that never get published.  That's okay.  This is how I process.  This is where I grieve.  This is where my tribe began, and this is where I beat that tribal drum.  They know who they are, and though they are scattered, they hear me.  They hear my heart.  If anything, I think Scott would be glad to see me write something.  Anything.  He was one of those who encouraged me to keep writing.  I have failed in that.

Scott's gift to the world was his eye for beauty in everything.  Everything.  Scott's gift to me was his friendship.  Given with trust; pure, and sweet, and with a full heart.  Scott broadened the scope of my tribe by adding to it in my 3D world; Jay, Seth and Lisa Hancock, Levi, and Zack.  In turn, those friendships grew and more were added; Crafty, the Nathans; Smith and Bates.  Charlie and I found treasure from a map of Scott's making.  This is how the heart grows.  A seed planted, a root system created, a blooming life springs forward.  Scott loved hearing the ripple-effect his ONE visit created.  My life immeasurably blessed by his presence.  He smiled humbly, giggled softly and handed Seth his camera to take a picture of us.  I felt his heart in my hand and his arms around me and quite simply, I melted in. 

The gaping hole he leaves is resonating far and wide.  The world feels harsh, and cold, and wrong.  Yet, and this is a great big YET; his joy in life, his journey in these past two years, his effervescent spirit, his brilliant, happy smile, are the soothing balm to this broken heart.  He was happy.  Right now, that has to be enough.  For now, let it be enough.