…Reading it got me crying yet again. I keep thinking I’m past the crying but I guess I’m only past the shock, the crying keeps coming back when I really look at the pictures or read the stories or feel the memories. That last little bit that Brad wrote in his email,
‘One more martyr in a dirty war, one more time to cry and hurt, one more time to know power and its ugly head, one more bullet cracks the night, one more night at the barricades, some keep the fires, others curl up and sleep, but all of them are with him as he rests one more night at his watch.’
That gets me every time. Like he was writing about his own death before it happened, without even knowing it. How crazy is that? I feel like I’ve learned so much in the past 2 ½ weeks, about the sacredness and beauty of each life, about what my friends mean to me, about what’s really important, about magic, about interconnectedness, about a much bigger and longer picture that we’re each only seeing a little piece of right now. In looking more closely at his life now that it’s over, I see the love and the goodness and beauty so clearly, and everything else just seems trivial.
And it reminds me to see everyone’s lives that way, while they’re still alive and well and by my side. I read Scott’s story about how he was annoyed with Brad for helping himself to the olive salad without asking, and I thought of all the times Brad cooked a meal for me when I was hungry- in Prague, in the Netherlands, in New York- and how his habit of helping himself to your food just came from his belief that all food should be shared by whoever’s hungry. It reminded me that so many of the things we might find annoying in other people, if we look more closely, we might just find come from something valid, or maybe even something profoundly beautiful.
And I don’t want to wait until they’re dead to appreciate it.
On my way back from New York I realized Brad was doing the same thing in his death that he did with his life: bringing people together, drawing attention and support to social justice struggles, and teaching. He reminded me that nothing is something out there, happening to someone else, for every death or injustice there’s someone crying, just like I was, that it’s all personal, it’s all happening to us, and it’s up to us to stop it.
And what he taught me in his death is that although I can’t undo his death, or the other deaths and injustices I witness, I can let them change me. I can let them make me stronger, and more loving, and more committed to supporting the people of Oaxaca and struggles for justice everywhere. I can let them inspire me to work harder, and appreciate life and all the people around me to the fullest, and to see all the beauty right here, right now, and at every opportunity. I can take the memory of the friendship we shared and let it inspire me to make the world a better place in whatever ways I can…
Thank you, Brad, for all of that and for all you did and are still doing, in whatever adventures lie after this one…
- Nov. 6, 2006: Swim Swim Swim
- Summer 2007: Nine Months In a Nutshell