Whether it can be described as a suicide note or letter or final words, the semantics don't much matter... another person in my life has crossed the veils, and somehow when I think that my heart has accepted too much of the tender moments of loss, it continues to reveal itself, as life's mysteries tend to do. So the Wheel spins, as it always does, and we, those that are left behind, pick up the pieces and find a way to move on... or, we don't.
I don't know where to begin. I don't know how one moment I could go from this pure joy and love in my heart to the next feeling as though it has stopped beating, feeling as though time didn't even bother to stand still, it just broke. It broke in this solid moment where there was no going back or going forward, you were merely in this moment of pure, unfiltered pain... and yet, the pain was numbing. I didn't feel the pain the way I thought I would, in such a similar circumstance being revisited. Instead, I was just there, back on this familiar boat, back to the edge of the river, watching another loved one sail to the Summerland... my, it has been a long year of loss.
A friend of mine today commented that she thought it had been a couple of years. No, just one. Not even. Joe marks the fifth person to leave this incarnation since November. I'm not comparing my loss to anyone else, not comparing the hurt to what others may have experienced... I can recall Joe once telling me that in one year, in August specifically, he lost 8 people. 8 people in *one* month. Still, he never used it as an excuse to shut down. On the contrary, he loved even deeper. As I said last night through trembling words, he was my teacher in love.
I don't think Joe ever quite got over Amy's death. How could he? Best friends who felt more like brother and sister, to watch someone go without the chance to say goodbye, without the chance to tell them how you feel about them, it's terrifying. It brings to the surface how we shouldn't take things for granted, that we shouldn't take people for granted or waste opportunities to tell them just how much we care, just how much they actually mean to us.
I have gratitude that Joe and I never wasted a moment. I have a secure warmth in my heart that he died knowing just how much I loved him, and that's the only solace I have right now in this tragedy. That and knowing that now he's at peace, with Amy, exactly where he wanted to be, back in the loving arms of the Goddess.
I went from the spiritual buzz that came from the Feast of Hecate just hours before. The Feast where I asked a question to Hecate's Maiden aspect that spoke to my purpose... I wasn't yet aware that that purpose was going to be put to the test in a few short hours. I didn't know that the calling would direct me here, again, in a deeper place of service. I just didn't know anything...
I got the text, the one about how he just wanted to say he loved me. I smiled, thought to myself that I will call him in the morning, sitting there chatting with my brother and mother who had come to babysit. 10 seconds it would have taken to respond "I love you too, call me in the morning, I miss you." That's all it would have taken, but I didn't take those 10 seconds, because I thought there would be a 'tomorrow', for the both of us.
I went to bed fairly late despite how blissfully tired I was, and I was woken up by my text going off on my phone, waking me from a beautiful deep sleep. I saw Joe's name and thought "I'm going to kill him" because of the near 3-am text message that had woken me up. He said "Going to visit Amy"... and my exhausted self wondered why he would be making the 4+ hour drive to Orono to visit her grave. "I'll call him in the morning" I said as I fell back to sleep. I just didn't know...
His boyfriend/fiance called me the next morning. Joe had killed himself... precisely 19 minutes after he texted. 19 minutes. That's a fucking lifetime. I know, one can't go back and play the "what if" game, not without pure insanity running amok. No, I can't go back and wonder what would have happened if I texted him back the first time, or if I had been awake just enough to really understand what the full verse of the text meant, if I had read the whole message in its entirety, if I had only called him instead of falling back to sleep... I can't play that "what if" game because I already did. I already went over the questions in my mind, over and over and over again. Replaying scenes, replaying moments, replaying everything. My heart is broken. I miss my friend terribly.
My shock lasted much of Saturday. I didn't know how to feel anything but shocked. It wasn't like when I received the call about Jonathan. Perhaps death had still been fairly knew to me then, because I bawled. I broke down and cried, unable to finish the retreat I was on, barely able to drive home through the downpour that the Earth shared. This time, just numb. I couldn't wrap my head around any of it. He jumped... my mind couldn't understand. Every natural instinct, every defense mechanism that "should" have stopped him didn't. He jumped... and the police were just moments away from stopping him, just seconds. Perhaps time is the biggest mystery of them all...
By Sunday the anger had finally kicked in. I hadn't been angry about the first Joe that died; I wasn't angry over Jonathan's suicide; not angry over Amy's unfortunate death; not even really angry over my grandmother's death... Joe's? I wasn't angry, I was pissed. "How dare he do this to me after he saw what Jonathan's death did to me? HOW DARE HE?!?!"... it felt good to be angry, because it meant I was feeling. It meant that I wasn't completely numb to another loss in my life, in my heart.
I went to visit his mother on Tuesday... Joe had written a suicide letter, and in it he named me, asking that I be the one to handle the details. I had always known this, Joe had always said that he and Amy would talk about how if anything happened to either of them that I was the one to be notified to do the service. Amy's family didn't respect her last wishes, and sadly she didn't have a will made out. She had a service in a church, the very last thing Amy ever wanted.
Still, hearing that your name was in a note and then getting to actually read it are two different mentalities that one can never fully comprehend. It was a copy of the letter, as the original was still under investigation with the police, but still, it was right there, very clear, the second or third sentence in, how he chose me to "make the decisions of when I pass." It was all on me.
I felt honored that he chose me... terrified... sick... angry... scared... it's amazing the variety of emotions one can feel when they're in a split second.
I spent the day going through his magickal supplies, as he was a Witch, too. These sacred items that, in the note as well, was left with instructions that it was to go to his mother first, then me. Me. I don't think I quite comprehended exactly what I meant to him, or just how much he loved me. I don't know if it's because I took it for granted or because there's still that old essence of me that doesn't want to always feel that sort of deep love, from anyone. It's fear-based, as most of my bullshit tends to be, but it's honest.
I got to hold the item he died with... his pentacle. He had 2 on him. A larger one that was in his pocket, and a smaller one in his hand. The one in his hand... that was hard to see, never mind hold. It had bent, from impact of his fall. This strong metal, bent. I wanted to vomit. I wanted to hold it and curl up in a ball and cry, but the well was completely dry. My heart was aching, and despite feeling overwhelmed with thought, I was also, oddly, quite clear.
I could smell him. I could feel him in that pentacle. I wanted so desperately to hold it close to my heart and never let go, but I knew it wasn't mine to keep.
Yesterday was the service. Yesterday I completed the last wish he asked, of both me and his mother, to be sure he got the ceremony he wanted, to be sure that what had happened to Amy didn't happen to him. It was all left to me. I was to Priestess his crossing over, and so I did.
I was composed, I was centered, I was grounded in strength I didn't know I would have in me yesterday. To see all the people who had come, to be in the center of their pain, their tears, their sadness... I thought I would lose it when I saw his body, much like I had when I saw Jonathan's casket. But I didn't. I didn't. I was so focused, I was there to be in service, to bridge the worlds, to guide him to the Summerland, with a room full of his family and friends (as well as a couple of other rooms that had me on video monitor with speakers from the microphone stand in front of me), I was to do ritual.
More than half of the people there didn't believe in Witchcraft. It didn't matter. This was Joe's last wish, and he knew he could count on me to do this for him, irregardless of what everyone else thought. I could feel their pain, sure, but I could also feel many of them biting their tongues in anticipation for a ceremony that went against everything they believed in. It was something they never really understood about Joe.
When it was all said and done, when I had opened the circle, my body began to move out the door while it beckoned my mind to follow. Out to the waiting area we went, and it directed me to the couch, where I sat, and placed my face in my hands, and bawled. My service was done, it was time for me to release, and my heart began to burn, and I realized that I had officiated my friend's goodbye.
I didn't expect the outpouring of love that followed. People there said that they never understood what Joe had practiced, had been scared of Witchcraft, but didn't know it could be so beautiful. They felt connected. Connected to the ritual, connected to me, because I had been connected to Joe in a spiritual avenue that they couldn't understand, because it was in that realm of the unknown that scared them.
They just kept coming, tears in their eyes, hugging me, thanking me, crying in my arms. They felt a sense of closure from what I officiated, and that was incredibly humbling. "You made him proud", they said, and I could feel him full of excitement that he got his final wish. If only I could have officiated something for him for everyone to witness and have the same outcome without the result of us having to let him go... if only, right?
The final aspect of the ritual was for family only, specifically for his mother and for his fiance, as I anointed his body to set his soul free to move to the Summerland... he directed me to this piece, his spirit channeling this final phase in the ritual. And it was then, that I realized, this was my goodbye. I placed my hand over his heart and simply cried. It was an extremely long and emotional day, and today I have simply sat on the couch, journaled, watched tv and read. That's it. I need a couple of days to just come back to... here.
The thing that was just as hard was having all of these people come up to me and know me... people who knew who I was because "Joe talked about you all the time... he loved you dearly..." it was incredible to hear, but it was so difficult as well. When I left I thought to myself how when my time comes I hope that I get at least a quarter of the people there coming to share their stories of how much they loved me... it was a tribute to who he was, someone who was the very best friend you could ask for, someone who hugged in a way that comforted you, not those one-armed bullshit hugs, but true soulful embraces... someone who loved, I mean, truly loved without borders.
As someone said to me last night, it must have been extremely hard to know that in that time he left this note, this note that described the reasons why he was about to do what he did, he took the time to make sure that someone knew to contact me. That the only names he left on that note was his mother and myself... they said it was a tribute of who I was to him... that feels heavy to digest.
All I know is, in this season of harvest, in this season of sacrifice, I see the bigger picture of what his sacrifice meant, to me at least, and how he gifted me something that I won't ever be able to truly thank him for. And, with no surprise, Hecate saw that and shared it as well. Yesterday I saw a deeper layer and understanding to the words In Service, and another puzzle piece was laid down in completion. I'm chanting in the back of my mind: Hecate, Hecate, HECATE!
For now, I am hopeful for a quiet couple of weeks before I retreat to the shores of Maine with the two most important people in my world. I need this time with them, I need this time for me, and while I'm trying not to speed up time, I'm hopeful that its mysteries will be less painful in the weeks to come.