What do you do when you are 59...and you learn that a high school friend died in his sleep. Whoa. Just like that, this passionate, wild, crazy, unique, one-of-a-kind if there ever was one guy. Geoff King. Gone.
This news made its way from Australia...across the Pacific...into my inbox this morning. (Thanks, dear Roslyn--for letting me know.) My heart is all over the place. Joe and I weren't close. Yet we had traveled and played together. Played full-out! Laughed and roared and explored as any good early twenty something does. We weren't close over the years. Yet there he was a few years ago....in the Smithsonian magazine I was reading in a doctor's office waiting room in Colorado. I turned the page to a tasmanian devil refuge in Tasmania---20,000 miles away. Could it be the same Geoff King? I sent an inquiry email and sure enough, our friendship rekindled just like that. His passions now fueling rescuing tasmanian devils...and habitat.
Now, Geoff is gone.
Oddly, yesterday I'd come across photo albums of this trip...thought wistfully for a moment before I swooshed back into Work*Productivity*High*Gear. So, this morning when I heard the news---I knew right where that album was. I flipped it open---and found Joe. Grinning and eyes flashing back at me. Playing an air (broom!) guitar, head flung back in song (very likely Bob Dylan). Another...next to the crackling campfire. So young. So alive. So quirky. So adventuring at every turn...there we were a little gaggle of friends, gallivanting up and down the coast of Western Australia. We'd blindly hitchhiked in the offseason (making for a memorable night with an Australian bachelor farmer who took pity on us, the stranded hitchhikers with no ride in sight after a day. He took hospitality to a whole new level! Can still taste that home cooked farmer's breakfast of eggs, sausages, pork chops, potatoes, toast---but I digress!) Memories flooding in. Joe was a jokester. Still is, I reckon!
And a voice whispers...
"Lynn, blog this."
Really? We weren't that close.
So--------here goes. I raise a toast to Geoff (who will always be "Joe" to me.) You lived full-out, mate! You in your red hair. You in your eccentricity. You gave us and the world your whole game. Here's to cricket in the afterlife! And a bevvy of tasmanian devils--with no need for protection. Just frolicking free! And you know---I just realized something. You want us to frolic freely. To enJOY every day. To risk a little (perhaps more than we have up til now). To really "go for it!" To leave it all on the field. To do what we can to make this world better because we were here. You'd love it if that were your legacy. I'm sure of it!
We're alive on this January 23rd (or January 24th for my Aussie mates), 2014.
We HAVE beating hearts. We ARE breathing.
Let's risk everything!
Let's preserve. Or pre-SERVE!
Let's live as if it's our last day. Because it may be. The French choral anthem in the next room is rising now....voices, clear and strong. My book project awaits on the dining room table...along with a cup of Everyday Detox tea. I'll return shortly. The snow is gently falling off the branches backwashed by brilliant blue skies. Joe---are you there? Still grinning? Bless you and bless us everyone! Bless this whole blessed journey called life on earth.
Who knew I'd be saying goodbye to a high school friend today? Belated thanks, Joe! For being a friend and fellow traveller. For opening me to myself....for leading the way...for by being you, inviting me into my true authentic being. Your life was as fiery as your red hair.
Postscript: If you're reading this, you're alive. Me too. Let's make it good. Let's make it great!
Let's do it for Joe!