witness

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.

Comment from Kozo reads: When someone tells you they are going to die, you listen. When someone tells you they are going to die, you think about all the joy they brought into this world and how they will not be around to bring more. You think about every blog post of theirs that made you a better person. You think about all their acts of kindness done without expectations of returns that made you believe in the goodness of humankind. You think about yourself and how your life will not be the same without them. When someone tells you that they are fighting death and surviving, you hug them with all your might to give them the strength to fight forever. You do this out of selfishness because you don’t want to think about how you will survive without them. *hugs* Rara. Love, Kozo.

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.

#peacecat, PeaceCat, Bloggers4Peace, B4Peace, Grayson Queen, Rarasaur

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.

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.

I ache.

But in the spirit of Kozo,

I ache with arms wide open.

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20 thoughts on “witness

  1. I am so sorry to hear about Kozo. It was his blog that first led me to yours several years ago. And I know today, being Dave’s birthday, has been doubly hard for you. I have no adequate words of comfort except to say I hope you know you are being thought of and loved.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. great story, do you recall the feeling you get when you are distracted, this is funny and true, it’s not a case of taking a hammer to your foot when you have a pain in the head, you suddenly forget about the pain in the head, unreal therapy, but as you allow your Spirit to be nourished, remember how it feels, all may seem lost, you read the book of God, Jesus and the Samaritan woman, Lazarus,whatever, and you are transformed, when you read it without expectation the fears you had minutes before, simply disappears, how powerful is that, amen, remember, demons live for fear amen

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  3. *hugs* and *matchstick* We are all so different for having known the people we meet – and in this way, they live on, in memories replayed and mannerisms borrowed.
    Or at least, that’s what I tell myself. It hurts to lose. It hurts to love. But you do so anyway, wide open and beautifully. I’m so sorry to hear of Kozo’s passing. 🖤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s at the end of his journey but not there yet, so any thoughts of peace his way would be triply appreciated. 🙏🏽💕

      And yes, I love that part of life. How we shift and change so much based on who we meet. Like we’re sand creatures covered on footprints except more poetic and less monster movie ish. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This post is achingly beautiful. I too ache with arms wide open. I can’t believe he won’t still be with us. I always thought he’d conquer it, win the battle, be one of the survivors. And yet in his own unique way he did survive. And now he gets to rest. I always admired so much how he dealt with adversity, and you too for the same reason. You are both heroes in my book.
    I love the poem. I will read it at our coming full moon drumming circle. I know it will be much appreciated in that group.
    I think he was one of the first people ever to follow my blog. I can’t remember if I met him through you or vice versa. And it brings back memories of the Pirate who I haven’t seen or heard of for many years now.
    I’m sorry I sent you the info about Kozo on Daves birthday 😦 It could have waited a day.
    Much love to you
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

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