Rhonda Lundquist, Andy Lundquist, and Ann DeGroot
I remember seeing my brother Ric, my only sibling, during this transition. Despite heavy sedation for pain, he held onto his life in this world to wait for our mother to arrive at the hospital to say goodbye. When she arrived and held his hand and spoke to him, he began to breathe more shallowly and less frequently. Not needing to fight to hold on any longer, he completely relaxed. Ric was not conscious when he passed--he just stopped breathing. With that last breath, I witnessed one of the most remarkable sights I have ever seen: Ric's spirit leaving his body to join the air. His last breath was my first as the sole caretaker of my mother. I have embraced this responsibility and done my best to do my best for her; he didn't need to ask me to do this. I knew it was what I needed to do to honor the life he lived and to honor the life she has given me.
Me, Mom, Cindy (Ric's wife), and Ric
From both Rhonda and Joe, I have been reminded to write, which is partially why I'm doing this now. I met Rhonda when we were in a MFA program in Los Angeles; from there, she hired me as a grantwriter for her business. In addition to being a kind-hearted and uproariously hilarious woman, Rhonda was also gifted poet, and she gave me the confidence and support to try my hand at writing poetry. Rhonda introduced me to Four Directions Charter School, where I worked for about 5 years. Thus began my introduction to another way to live life in a mindful, compassionate way with a healthy dose of laughing medicine. I also met a couple of good friends, Tracy and Toni, at Four Directions; they taught me to find my way out of dark caves by sounding laughter against the stone walls.
Through Tracy, I met Joe; I don't remember exactly when I met Joe or how we became friends. We just hit it off, and he became a person whom I felt as though I had known a long time. In addition to sharing a passion for Triumph motorcycles, Joe and I both loved writing and stories. Joe was a superb storyteller. Joe introduced me to blogging, as he'd been at it for years. Passively, he encouraged me to try it out--to send my own ideas out into the world for mass consumption. At first, I was hesitant--and I still am. What do I have to share with others that can make a difference in their lives? I still don't know the answer to that question, but now that's not the point. The point is to write regularly for a purpose, even if that purpose is simply sharing a story with someone. One never truly knows the butterfly effect that sharing one's ideas can have. It could change someone's life, and thus change the world.
Both Joe and Rhonda were fabulous storytellers and people who lived their lives for the experiences they could share with others to improve this life and this world for everyone. Their visions of peace and understanding, and the stories they shared and we lived, will be a part of me for the rest of my life. Although I miss both of their presences in my life, I am encouraged, too. They have left me with a responsibility to honor their lives through laughter, love, understanding, and stories. I proudly accept this responsibility and will strive to honor it with my life.
And here but for the Creator's grace go I.
Thank you for reading this.
Click to hear Neil Young's song, "Distant Camera", dedicated
to those who have journeyed to another existence