Last night after you called with the news, the weight on my heart got so heavy I almost fell back. I stood listening as you cried, and I shared in your tears. We knew she was sick, for goodness sakes – we’d had plenty of warning – four years of almost non-stop treatments.
Somehow knowing it would be any day, any time at all that she would be gone, did not prepare me – clearly did not prepare you either. The words – “she’s gone” didn’t allow us to make up our own stories any longer. Our habit of hoping came to a screeching halt as reality trumped it.
Being on an island far away – there was no need to stay on the phone any longer. I couldn’t hold you like I wanted – I couldn’t make it better. We both understood – I would be home in a few days for the funeral.
After dinner, Bill and I walked down the beach in front of our hotel. Our friends had turned in for the night. It was already 11p.m., but despite the late hour, BIll sweetly agreed to come with me.
We walked barefoot down the beach near our hotel to hear music. I wasn’t certain what we would be hearing, but it had to be better than the voices playing in my head.
I couldn’t talk – I just wanted to feel. I wanted to feel Susan, and I was hoping the music would take me there.
We walked up to the beach shack, filled with old couches and driftwood chairs. “Just found furniture” is how I would describe the look. The place was tiered and tucked into the side of a dune organically spreading out like a tree house. It was very hip, very cool and very island. Nothing fancy –kinda Robinson Crusoe gone Rasta.
Bankie Banx owns the place. He’s the main act and the club is a direct extension of his personal vibe.
It was a Thursday night but it wasn’t busy. The band was playing as we walked in. We paid our “cover” and settled quickly onto an enormous ottoman close to the stage where we could lie back and gaze up at the stars.
Bankie Banx came out to join the trio. He moved slowly – really slowly, and he had a huge presence- very tall, very skinny, with salt and pepper dreds and a full gray beard. We figured he was at least in his mid to late 60’s but no matter, everything about him was “cool.” His movements were slow and graceful but it was hard to see where he was focusing as he wore his sunglasses at night.
He threw back his drink, placed it on the stage and rapped his long, long fingers, which could easily span 2 octaves, around the microphone. As he took a final toke on his joint, he leaned in and a deep, deep voice, full of the richest and raspiest of tones, came at me like a blanket of comfort.
It’s amazing how sometimes you know what you need– and you can actually get it. The music was medicine and it was covering my aching heart with comfort.
He sang on and on til late into the night. Bill and I sat mesmerized. My mind began to let go and I felt my sweet friend with me. Susan and I loved to listen to music together – to feel it. We would look at each other in the midst of a song – mostly my son’s music, rap our arms around each other smiling and just feel it. That was happening for me right on that beach at that very moment – and as I brought her in with me – the tears poured out and the warmth of her settled me.
I pictured her greeting me as she always did – with a hug in her smile ever-ready to settle in for a long, long visit.
It seemed we were never done and our conversations would just pick up where they left off. Susan saw me inside and out and I loved being “seen” by her. No judgment, total acceptance, truly unconditional love. She invited me to reciprocate and welcomed the honesty we shared which made us both feel delightfully safe together.
Well, that kind of friendship is truly a gift, and not easy to say goodbye to.
During the entire set, Susan was in the music for me and it felt good to keep her close. What is so odd is, the last song they played was “R.I.P.” Man-o-man – really?
At that moment, as I listened to “R.I.P”, despite the vastness of the beach, out on a far away island, under the endless canopy of stars – I felt connected to Susan. As I listened to the words, the universe shrunk to a single heartbeat. Susan and I were together.