Brother Bear…

How will I ever write this…how many tries will it take to get it right?

The holiday season always seems to bring the unexpected into our lives in some way. We went to an Open House in a friend’s newly-redecorated loft next to ours one evening last week, and I found myself in a free-range conversation with a woman who was helping to host. We eventually landed on the subject of pain and I was telling her about my gifted shaman friend, Ken, who had helped me so much through his knowledge of massage and the human lymph system. She asked me his last name and when I told her she said “Oh. He died. A couple of months ago, I think. He killed himself. Oh, I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”

We said our goodnights soon after and I’ve been trying to process the reality of her bombshell since. Cold shock gradually gave way to “Damn you, Ken, that’s so unfair. We were friends, you owed me one more conversation.” During my last session with him, which was less than three weeks before he died as it turns out, he told me he was getting ready to make some big changes in his life and pursue things that would be about his own peace and happiness for once. He sounded hopeful and resolved, and I affirmed him in his plans, telling him what a beautiful human being he was and that he deserved to be loved and appreciated and happy. He sat next to me on the massage table, his bare toes on the floor – he was 6’5″ – and went over *breathing lessons* with me again, the thing that ultimately keeps me healthy. He said “What if I’m not around sometime? You have to remember how to do this. You can never forget.” Did he know then? Was that the resolve? Or did he not yet have an escape hatch in mind in case things didn’t pan out… ?

How could he take himself away? His supremely gentle spirit. His soothing voice. His gifted touch. His knowledge, beautifully spooky in its intuitiveness. This isn’t my first rodeo with suicide and once again it’s like being yanked out of my skinsuit with no warning and left standing here raw and wondering what to do. I would have helped him in a heartbeat, and I can hardly bear the knowledge that I can’t bring him back to tell him that and a million other things. We hugged when I left that day, and I said I’d book another session soon. That was August…now it’s December…and what with various minor crises of our own I never did. 

Ken knew I was working on a novel and he asked if there was a bit part in it for a shaman called Bear. If I finally nurse it over its hurdles and finish it at some point…or if I don’t…he’s in there. And I have to believe that Brother Bear is still out there somewhere on his journey, encountering new hurdles to overcome. He was an inexpressibly exquisite creature in this life.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. murphyvillefarms
    Dec 09, 2018 @ 20:52:03

    How tragic to hear that someone who has been a shining light for you and so many, was actually a broken soul in desperate need of peace. I guess sometimes that’s the only way to end one’s pain, yet I can’t blame you for feeling like you wanted to say more, spend more time and gather more knowledge and peace from a healer that has unselfishly given so much of himself. Knowing you, you warmed his heart with your goodness and smoothed the rough edges with your sweet smile. We need more healers in this world. I guess the healers are just like us, fragile beings that walk a thin line one step at a time. God bless him ~ Love ya sis, Leigh

    Liked by 1 person


    • Judy Smith
      Dec 10, 2018 @ 06:53:59

      Thank you for getting it, which of course you would. This is a tough one – because how did I miss it? I love you forever, my beautiful friend, and thank you. We do have to spend some time together again soon, the four of us.

      Liked by 1 person


  2. Linda
    Dec 08, 2018 @ 22:12:33

    Oh Judy. It hurts so much to know that special person was hurting so much. I’m so sorry for your loss. Another beautiful life gone too soon.



    • Judy Smith
      Dec 09, 2018 @ 07:53:28

      Yes. He took so much with him. And it’s so crushing to know his own pain went so deep when he was so good at sharing and helping to relieve the angst of others. Silence runs so deep in some fellow spirits and we just don’t know…



  3. maureenjenner
    Dec 08, 2018 @ 14:16:44

    A deeply wounding episode that must have caused great pain. I hope you will look forward and gain comfort from knowing that for every today there is a tomorrow..



    • Judy Smith
      Dec 08, 2018 @ 15:16:19

      Thank you, Maureen, tomorrow always comes. The grief has so many layers, some of them tangled, so it’s yet another opportunity to stretch – but I’ll never not miss him.



  4. Mark Zimmerman
    Dec 08, 2018 @ 11:18:26

    So sorry, Judy.


    Liked by 1 person


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