In Third Wish, a book by Robert Fulghum, a man starts on a journey and asks a passing stranger to bear witness to it. Through the years, he sends her letters detailing his life or thoughts. She responds, though usually just enough to indicate — yes, I see you. I see this.
Sometimes there isn’t anything for anyone to do but be witness.
Right before a final interview today, I received word that our dear Kozo is ready to transition, that he will be joining the faces I think of whenever I see the matchstick at the bottom of my blog.
He is one of the lights I am grateful to have had in my life for as long as I have.
Years ago, when we first met, I was dealing with a deeply embedded illness and scrambling to come to terms with death as a possible result of treatments. It went the other way, through no real action of my own, but before we knew for certain, I wrote a post about it.
I’ve been thinking about his comment to that post, all day.
I’ve been thinking about how far each of us have come in the last few years. How Kozo learned and taught us all the glory of the let go. How I am less frightened of shadows.
How much I will miss him anyway. Even though I know energy is forever, and that his legacy of making things better will carry on far beyond this transition.
Today is Dave’s birthday, and somehow that seems relevant to this, too. I’m remembering things, like Bloggers for Peace, and Company for Christmas, and big collaborative events, with all three of us (and many others) at the helm. I’m remembering Kozo’s scrawl across notepad paper with a poem for me to carry in my pocket while I was inside jail.
To Have Without Holding by Marge Piercy
Learning to love differently is hard,
Love with hands wide open, love
With doors banging on their hinges,
The cupboard unlocked, the wind
Roaring and whimpering in the rooms
Rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
That thwack like rubber bands
In an open palm.
It hurts to love wide open
Stretching the muscles that feel
As if they are made of wet plaster,
Then of blunt knives, then
Of sharp knives.
It hurts to thwart the reflexes
Of grab, of clutch; to love and let
Go again and again. It pesters to remember
The lover who is not in bed,
To hold back what is owed to the work
That gutters like a candle in a cave
Without air, to love consciously,
Conscientiously, concretely, constructively.
I can’t do it, you say its killing
Me but you thrive, you glow
On the street like a neon raspberry
You float and sail, a helium balloon,
Bright bachelors button blue and bobbing.
On the hot and cold winds of our breath,
As we make and unmake in passionate
Diastole and systole the rhythm
Of our unbound bounding, to have
And not to hold, to love
with minimised malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.
I’m not sure where to set down all this yesterday. I’m not sure how to fit it all on the altar or where to start.
“I can’t do it, you say its killing Me.“
“It hurts to thwart the reflexes
Of grab, of clutch; to love and let
Go again and again.”
Again and again.
In my mind, I set down the matches first. I light them in honor, I blow them out with a wish. Purple flowers, for Dave’s mom, who shared his birthday and died too young, too. Water, for Makala Kozo. I tap the flat of the water in the glass to make waves.
I set down the spider that I saved in prison. I wrote Kozo the story immediately, knowing that he would find joy in the absurdity of my rescue.
I set down the cat, fat and orange, and created by Dave for Kozo. The official cat of Bloggers for Peace.
And I set down the jackrabbit that I carried all the way from the beginning of my prison journey. I let it jump on the altar the way it hopped across the desert-like yard of the Central California Women’s Facility. I hope Kozo’s minds eye can see those hops, can feel the freedom and lightness of spirit that I felt whenever I saw the small rabbit body scurry past.
And what is left?
Just armfuls and altars of love– nothing heavy, but it aches.
Life will not be the same, but it never is, and it always is.
“It hurts to love wide open”
But it’s worth it. Bearing witness to the journey of all the lights I have seen has been my deepest joy.
On days like this, I want to crumble and cry and sleep, and I probably will do all those things, but then I will get back up and open my arms as wide as I can with the intention of making space for more love, not thwarting that which is ready to be in motion.
“To have and not to hold”
The wave in the small glass cannot be captured by camera or pinch. The jackrabbit jumps to remind me not to try. Sulfur fills the air and the candles make both light and shadow. Peace Cat is talking to the spider about how we save each other.
How we save each other with doors and minds and arms wide open.
How we save each other, and then run to our computers to stop time and tell the tale, and how then– how then we are given the miraculous gift of bearing witness to our own rescue, our own journey, and how it tangles into everyone we meet along this blank-screen’d way.
A blogger in community is always twice blessed.
But this type of love is a kinetic thing, a boomeranging uncaged thing, a sometimes-bruising thing, and yes, today, it aches.
But in the spirit of Kozo,
I ache with arms wide open.
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