“A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry.”
Today is the feast day known as All Souls’ Day.
A while back I shared a poem I had written for my grandfather (for all grandfathers, of course, but especially for him).
Today I’d like to share a letter I wrote to a man I never actually met….and never will.
Why would I write a letter to someone I had never met and never will?
I think the letter explains it all.
I never got to meet you.
We only “met” in email correspondence, and one dream, though brief and suddenly gone. I meant to visit, for your retirement celebration. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I should have. Because now you are gone. You died. And I didn’t know. I tried to get in touch with you again, to share news, but never heard from you after some time in 2007. So I’d like to try this- writing to you. Thanking you. Learning from and with you. Exploring together worlds others plop down cash or credit card or library card and cast away or return or pass on. But we- you and I and others, I think- we go there. We understand the local language, customs, rituals, and more. I want to expand and delve and share what I’ve learned. From them. From you. From myself. You seemed interested, intrigued, by my enthusiasm. I think I got you excited, too, new angles to approach, new worlds to find. I hope in all of my energetic, “look at this!” messages another message came through. “Thank you!” Thank you for showing me the first map to a world I had visited but didn’t realize I could explore, or even stay a while. A map. A key, unlocking new doors, in learning, in creating. I made so, so many more connections, however brief. I stepped out the door, key in hand, and headed down an unknown path, Bilbo and Frodo and Dorothy and Lyra and you by my side- your footprints in the dust, the dirt, the path, next to mine. You’d already set out, and left a lampost to guide me, to show me the path, There, and Back Again. You left me Lookfar, for the watery route, for finding, alone, my shaddowy self, my gebbeth. You left me a mirror, a couple of Oracles, to question, to pass through the gates, to seek the answers in my soul. To show my self my soul. To show- not tell- me, all I needed, all I need, is my self. To open that door, to return home, to draw my own maps, write my own adventures, and share them. With them. With you. For you. For me.
Thank you, Doug. Thank you.
Much love and gratitude to you, sir.