The wilderness, we all pass through it. I saw it in Charles’ eyes just last week. May we realize that the extremes we go through are the test of our lives, and that in the most painful we discover who we are.
For me, I walked out of the Australian desert outback, alone in 2012, after eight years out of the U.S.A. I got on a plane and at the other end met up again, in a town I was moving to sight unseen, my beloved old friend Charles, who had moved there himself one week earlier: Peekskill, New York, an hour north of New York City.
From dark to light to dark to light.
In the piece on the outback in Tin House, that I posted last week, I describe the Coalsack Nebulae — a black space in the sky that is a recycler of stars. Also, again, what I discovered and love the most — that while white people pick their constellations from stars, aborigines see them in the patterns in the darkness. Charles I hope for sure that you are being recycled right now, dust into life as dead star into new star in the star recycler you reach.
Charles was a man who never complained, in the 25 years I knew him, about his luck or his odds, or of being held back by any part of who he was. I so admire that. He would laugh at me, but I told his Dad that on his death bed our beloved Charles looked like black Jesus.
Everyone is going to miss him for the rest of our lives, as Jay D (I guess I should say Daugherty) said at his service on July 22. A terrible loss. A brilliant artist, a gentle strong man, and a soul mate. Tears are flowing and they ain’t going to stop soon.