Poo Poo On My Shoes
The Gracie Stories, part 13
At the funeral I did several weeks ago I had poo poo on my shoes, several entries back, the cousin and caretaker of the man I buried mentioned that the deceased had one good friend who he hoped would come to the funeral. It seemed important to the cousin that the man might show up. The deceased it seemed lived a sad, desolate life and it felt significant that this one guy, his friend, would show up for the funeral. I asked before we started the service: is his friend here?
No, said the cousin, I was thinking he might come.
I started the prayers and made the holy chants and about ten minutes into it, I saw someone hurrying toward us through the cemetery. He was walking/running like a tattered coat; there was a flailing of arms and legs and an eagerness in his approach. This must be the friend, I thought.
After the holy prayers were said and the casket settled into the grave, we began to shovel the dirt as is the Jewish custom. The friend was eagerly supervising; though no one had designated him to do that, it was sweet.
He whispered to me as he passed me by the grave: he was a great person, he had his problems but he was a great friend. I will miss him. Extremely loyal. A loyal friend, all my life.
He left as abruptly as he arrived. It touched me; the white fire of it, not written whatever this relationship was it was not disclosed to me, but his eagerness in his arrival, his style of entry, his assumption of responsibilities, his departure as abrupt as his arrival – all of it opened to me on a secret of human relations that was not articulate but present in this life that had been described to me in mostly sad and frustrating episodes. Here: a friend.
A few weeks later, I ran into that friend. I noticed him in a place I would have never placed him — I needn’t mention the place as that would needlessly complicate the story – but this was clearly one of his places and he was comfortable and planted there. He didn’t recognize me.
Another chapter of the deceased story cracked open to me, but I didn’t ask, didn’t push the door open on it, just that he had been connected to someone maybe a whole group of people that might not have been known to his family was heartening to me.
It was also the unlikely conflation of worlds; I would have never placed the deceased, from what I had been told of him, and therefore his friend, in this place. It was another unlikely conflation of stories to me that happen and in some ways I am tracking them through these stories and all stories; the arc of stories that intersect and conflate, merge and separate, with delight and surprise I am living in my head or watching from one of my Italianate porches.
Today Mugsie walked by with Lucy. Mugsie lives down the block and Lucy is I guess Mugsie’s new sister, they are both canines, and Gracie left the porch where we are sitting and meeting students and went down and sniffed around them a little. Good for you Gracie, some return to normal; this grand up and down, jumping in jumping out, running and returning (see Ezekiel 1:14) quality of existence. Another good description of writing: to track the ascents and descents.
Passover is over. This is the secret that was whispered to us by our teacher while we were still not-free: the in the out the running the returning the up the down the ascents the descents the near the far: it’s the same. You’re close, you’ll be far. You’re far, you’ll be close. Don’t take it so seriously. You’re in for the ride of your life.
Just fed Gracie on the porch. She ate out of her food bowl with one leg in her water bowl. What the heck. The peace of the near and the far, the in the out.