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Lost Then Found

A very few excruciatingly long weeks ago, my friend Jamie changed his address. I’m uncertain about this part, but I suspect he changed it permanently. Some insisted that we’d thereby lost him, but I question that assertion. If he is, indeed, now lost to us, we might also now be lost to him, but I contend that Jamie is right this moment no more lost than we are. Of course, this statement doesn’t really say all that much, for I have been feeling quite exceptionally lost these last weeks. Maybe you have been feeling lost, too. This morning, I intend to get to the bottom of just where Jamie is now so I can ditch this disconcerting lost feeling I’ve been dragging around like outsized carry-on luggage.

When Jamie was still “with us,” he was perhaps most noticeable to me by his absence. We didn’t find or create many opportunities to meet face-to-face, yet we managed to feel as though we were in decent touch anyway. We Skyped sometimes, phoned others, exchanged emails, sometimes directly, perhaps more often as CC:s, as part of some shared group business. The last few months, I maintained a stream of correspondence I did not intend him to respond to, but even that seemed to sustain the clear felt sense of intimate proximity between us—none of that reinforced with actual proximity, mind you.

Then, when he “left,” I felt a sense of loss every bit as real as that former sense of intimacy had been.
Where had Jamie gone? I began to wonder where he’d always been, for I suspected then that my lurid imagination had somehow long before built him a residence he’d never physically inhabited, one I imagined him in and one that for most intents and purposes had fairly contained him and helped sustain our relationship, such as it ever was. I caught myself repossessing that place, casting Jamie out into ether, all because he’d died. This would not have qualified as a decent response even for an imaginary friend, and Jamie was in no way imaginary, though he certainly was my dear friend.

I suppose I imagined him entering that long cavern where all my forebears now reside, a place I’d thought already filled to overflowing with memorable presences. I wondered how he’d fare in there, perhaps struggling to even find a place to sit, though I suspected he’d find some pretense to initiate an innocent chat which would shortly turn into another Authentic Conversation. I figured he’d charm my great great grandmother, the one who crossed the Oregon Trail three times, or that many-times great grandfather who’d minted counterfeit British coins in the Blue Ridge and served as a Quaker officer over a company of misfits during the Revolutionary War, and then I felt jealousy rising in my craw.

Late one night, I finally figured out where Jamie had gone to. He’d gone to where I’d relegated him and I concluded that I’d consigned him to the old reliable default address where all my best-loved people have gone, but he didn’t go there by choice, neither his nor mine. He’d stumbled in there, shoved by a temporarily grief-mindless me. I decided that I wanted to choose where Jamie moved to, if, indeed, he really needed to move at all. (I insist that I am not dabbling in delusion here, or denial, but choice.)

I always thought of Jamie as a wise counsellor. He was skilled at finding that one thread that could unravel whatever cloak I wore. He was a gentle unraveler, and I appreciated his care. I often though of him as sitting on my shoulder, Jiminy Cricket-like, whispering in my ear. A conscience. A subtle influencer, reminding me of my intentions, of who I aspired to be. He wouldn’t let me get away with much.

After I’d so thoughtlessly banished him from his usual digs, I went without his navigating for a spell and, no real headline here, I felt quite lost as a result. After a while, I felt even more lost. And to think I heard myself explaining that I’d lost Jamie, my friend, but it was really me who was lost as a result.

I believe now that I committed a fundamentally human error when I evicted Jamie from his familiar place in my life just because he died. I have invited him back in and, apparently being in no particular spirit to deny me, he’s generously agreed to accept my invitation. Now, I don’t anymore say that I’ve lost my friend Jamie, for I imagine him sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear. This last week, I felt the urge to write him a letter, so I did, CCing the traditional co-correspondent Maren. She graciously accepted the note in his apparent absence, even thanking me for it, and so my urge to correspond was satisfied. Further, I believe that Jamie received that note, too. I have no credible witness to deny this claim and my explanation works just fine for me.

Jamie always was more spirit than presence to me, which might make me more fortunate than those who knew him as more presence than spirit. Even those folks recognize that he had been blessed with one huge spirit, but no less than any of us were blessed with his spirit’s presence in our lives. I have committed now to the terms of a new long term lease with Jamie. He’s moved back into the place where I know him so well. The universe seems to have regained her balance again.

©2015 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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