Posted by: MC | March 11, 2011

Eve

I don’t remember exactly the year.  Maybe it was 1979.  Probably summer, but more likely spring since summer in Baton Rough, LA can be beyond the capacity of all but its own hearty inhabitants to survive.  There was the protection of the stately oaks dripping with Spanish moss.  Whatever the season it was mild enough to leave untroubled the breathlessly fine fabrics and careful protocol involved to make the wedding as glitteringly perfect as it was.  Of course, this is all now memory.  I was young and astonished with my first opportunity to be a bridesmaid in a real wedding – my friend Eve’s wedding.  I’m betting, though, that the occasion really did glitter.

Fast forward across a life to a few days ago when I received an email forwarded to a generous list of exceedingly wonderful women – college friends.  The message:  Eve died Christmas day with heart failure.

My last face-to-face with Eve was during the wedding reception, just before she and her new husband left for the happily ever after part.  We reconnected a year ago – February 22, 2010.  But only virtually.  One mysterious benefit of facebook.

This time last year I was also writing about death.  Mayme Porter’s death on March 4 (EX:C blogs 3-9-2010, Weather Report; 3-4-2011,  March Forth!), and Jenn’s death (2-22-2010,  American Dreams, 3-1-2010, Change and Topography).  Jenn, the dance leader, midwife, mom, wise woman who in her early 40’s lived her life in a way that taught the deft skills needed for weaving courage with compassion.

Here a year later, each and every one of our lives has unfolded in ways imaginable and not.  I’m into my own exercise of weaving the voices of the EX:Change journey with the narrative of my own experience.  I can’t and likely won’t ever be able to give a perfectly complete description of the power of the teaching that comes from these voices.  It’s that kind of ineffable force.  Individually and, more strongly, in the harmonies struck by the similarities and differences across and among them, I heard the better angels of our nature to which President Lincoln called us.  Even when there were pointed words of frustration or disapproval, the bass notes across every interview seemed to be something like, “Please listen to what I have to say. This is what I feel most passionately. It is what I want for my family and community because I love and care about them.”

Each of the lives behind these voices is flawed and clumsy at the same time it is precious and sublime and everything in between.  That seems the nature of being alive.  Then there’s dying and the way, when an impish beauty like Eve leaves her body the teaching of that can crack open the hardness in a heart a bit more.  With that crack, with the pain and confusion of the fact – Eve is no longer alive – comes the grace of a small bit of room, a space in which knee jerk judgment of what may strike me as wacky and unpleasant in a person is less interesting, less energized because there is always another side.  There is always the precious and sublime.

Eve was one of my first teachers on this, way back in our late teens.  I was a little scared of her.  She was a year younger, but a year ahead when we met at Austin College up on the northern edge of Texas.   Slight and adorable as she was, she had an edge.  She had survived something.  She was tough in a way that I wasn’t.  She was comfortable, even at home, with a harshness I didn’t yet know.

This may be one of the major opportunities of being alive.  Listening, even becoming best friends with what seems a bit scary – what seems different.  I’ll keep hanging out with the EX:Change voices and the circumstances of life as they come and go.  Painful as the learning can be, there is no doubt a surprising freedom that comes with it.

So, my dearest gratitude to and for Eve.  For Mayme.  For Jenn.  For each of the 100 voices and for all the others before and to come.  In deed.

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