Friday, September 3, 2010

Perching The Soul

I can vividly recall all of the events that transpired on October 20, 2005. I remember the phone call from my friend Trish and exactly where I was standing and what I was looking at when she told me "to sit down."

Up until that time, I never understood the complexity of that statement, I felt fully capable of accepting bad news regardless of my body position.

She then told me that David had died from an overdose.

My legs went numb and my knees buckled from underneath me. Yes, there is good reason to sit when someone tells you to do so.

How could this be true, I just saw him. We had weekly cheesecake together just four days earlier. There were no evident signs that he was planning on taking his life.

David and I worked together at the Pottery Barn. We started at the same time three years earlier and became fast friends. He was the most fantastically, flamboyant gay man that I had ever met. He made no apologies for who he was, he was perfect as is.

Prior to David's death, I had lost three other friends to suicide.

The first was a Paramedic classmate who started an IV of anti-freeze on himself. The second a Nurse Practitioner who slit his femoral artery and the third put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger in his mother's home.

Every one of those is almost unimaginable, unreal even. I went to all three of their funerals and mourned the loss of each of them, but it would be David's quiet passing that would affect me the most.

In life, David was a star. Beautiful in every way. He'd greet you every time with a hug and would be the first to cheer you up when you were down. He was brilliant and hilarious.

He was outlandish in life, death didn't become him.

I sat with Trish at his funeral and openly wept. It was uncontrollable. There more I tried to stifle my sobs, the worse it became.

Trish did all the things a good friend should to to try to comfort me but nothing worked until she noticed a tiny white feather on the sleeve of her black sweater. Without even thinking, she picked it off and handed it to me.

For whatever reason I held on to that feather for the rest of the service. It gave me some sense of focus and calmed me down.

I put it into my wallet as we filed out of the funeral home and didn't think of it again for the next few days.

When I returned to work, I was alone one morning in the store, opening up the cash registers and doing some quick straightening before my associates arrived.

I was in the Design Studio, the area where David had worked when I saw it...a feather.

A random feather sitting at his work station.

Now, I am not an overly religious person by any means and never really thought of myself as "spiritual," but this was more than coincidence. 

I realized at that moment that while David was gone in the physical sense, he would be with me always, we just had to find a new "language" in which to communicate. 

In the nearly five years since his passing, I have found countless feathers in the most unexpected and unusual places. I have collected each one and saved them in a glass-faced shadow box.

There are probably close to 200 in there at this time. 

Every time David "speaks" to me, I look high into the sky and say hello.

The feathers serve as a reminder to "hang in there" when the going gets tough, to celebrate the good times, cherish family and friends and accept the unexpected no matter how it presents itself. 

"Hope is the thing with feathers."

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