Friday, October 27, 2006

I'm Honored ...

I have a metal box.

In it, I keep important papers and things: Passport, birth certificate, safety deposit box key.

It is also where I keep an envelope addressed to Sydney and Alex, a copy of the letter I wrote to them after their dad died. Charles. I've written about him before. Inside that envelope, I also keep the copy of his obituary (it ran with the most fabulous photo of him) as well as the note his sister Becky sent to me, thanking me for the letter to Sydney and Alex (with another fabulous photo of Charles on the front - he was damn photogenic). And I keep the last Christmas card and photo he sent to me, the envelope addressed in his strange hand. Charles had an artful way of printing. His signature, well, that was a Hollywood scrawl.

He's been gone nearly three and a half years already. But I think about him often. I was just thinking about him earlier tonight. He pops into my head, his Archie Bunker-esque "Oh, shut up" that was always his response whenever I'd say anything remotely mushy. Charles didn't do mush. Not overtly. But secretly, I think he liked it.

I thought about him in New York when I was shopping. He's still very much a part of my life.

In June, I wrote a long post about my relationship with him, such as it was, and how deeply I was affected by his death.

A friend of his found the post a couple months later, having Googled his name. I was glad to hear from him.

Tonight, from another, I received this:

"I was with Charles on that fateful vacation. I still think of him often as well. Thus, the search of his name on Google and finding this blog.

Your writing brought him back.
Thanks. "

While I'm slightly shaken to have heard from someone who was with Charles in Mexico three years ago May (and I invite that person to e-mail me; my address is in my profile), I'm warmed by the words, "Your writing brought him back."

For the longest time, I didn't consider writing one of my talents. It's just something I do. And I do without effort. Words just flow from me. I rarely stop to think about how to write. Writing just happens. And it's because of that ease that I never considered that my writing might be worthwhile. Something so easy can't have value, right? We don't pat ourselves on the back for breathing.

I write because it's what I do. I don't think about why I was given this gift.

But I am unspeakably grateful for it.

And tonight, just this moment, I am also overwhelmed. "Your writing brought him back."

I'm so honored to have known him, and so honored to have the ability to write my small story, and that those who read it are reminded of him.

But I realize that my words don't bring him back, because he lives in all of our hearts. He is always with us. That someone from his circle is searching for his name tonight proves that. None of us have let him go. We never will. He's part of who we are. His memory lives large in our lives.

On the front of the card from Becky, underneath the picture of Charles, who is standing in the desert, looking uncharacteristically casual in a white T-shirt and open-front flannel (or maybe it's just plaid), is a quote from Jacqueline Kennedy:

"Now, I think that I should have known he was magic all along. I did know it - but I should have guessed that it would be too much to ask to grow old with him and see our children grow up together.

So, now, he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man."

Update: I, myself, haven't Googled Charles' name of late. Until tonight. And I found this, a brief biography of Charles, written by his daughter Alex, along with a bevy of photos I'd never seen before. I said he was photogenic. Now you can see for yourself.

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