Monday, January 25, 2016

Death and LIfe: Ghede in the Gate

Honor tout moun -
I wrote this posting last week, just before the storm. Its been a painful week for me but I want to share. Even personal pain must be set aside when you are a working priest; others need your support and strength. I will cry in private later on.
They are predicting snowmegaddon this weekend, just in time for our Legba fet. The Gatekeeper must have some big news if he is buttoning me into the house for two days. I have been acting as an uber mambo since December 31 - Petro bathes, Bon Chans (luck) baths, three day ancestor elevation.  Students are busy with the Four Circles class. Clients are coming out of the wood work. Woy - travay, travay-yo!

Life is a continuous spiral, a Fibonacci graphic meant to be lived and explored.  Each passing day my duties and spiritual connections increase. Most are wonderful experiences, the kind of affirmation that makes me glad for becoming a  priest all those years ago. Others? Well, those are the not so good kind; the type where you must step aside internally inorder to function externally. No one ever taught me how to do this - maybe its a survivor mechanism, I don't know. What I do know is, it still hurts even when I can't show my emotions.

I had devastating news arrive last week - a very close friend lost her husband in a freak accident in Jamaica the first week of the year. He was a Ghede child, born one day after me - November 3rd. I feel those of us born in the time of the Ghedes walk closer to death than most. But that doesn't mean it's any easier to do the work.  Two years ago, I officiated at the memorial service for her mother -- interestingly in a blizzard. When the call came late on Saturday night, I thought OMG, its her father. Never did I think it would be her husband "D".

I officiated at the marriage of D and my friend.  They lived here in Pennsylvania for many years, but island-born people have a pull to the waters of their homeland that cannot be denied. Three years ago D moved back, and my friend began plan a life there with him. They bought a house. They opened a bar with music. D rapped in a rich baritone colored with island flavors and cut a couple records that were well received. My friend set up a boutique that carried jewelry, doing hair for the tourist ladies. It was all going so well, until D stepped off the curb last Monday and was run down by a tour bus. Game over.

D's birth was heralded by a magical, mystical character known to me only as Brudda.  D later explained that Brudda was a real life Obeah healer from Kingston, Jamaica. When Brudda got a look at D's mom he predicted that the baby would be born "special." D arrived a week earlier with a caul on his face.  That set him up for many things - but mostly danger. On an island where magic and spirituality go hand in hand, a baby with a caul is of special note. Whether D rose to fulfill his potential we will never know. Even my friend didn't know much about that part of D's life.  When I left for Haiti to become mambo, D was over the moon.  Finally he had a friend here in the states he could talk to about things that were "other." But it wasn't enough. His life was really good here; busy with my friend, her family, myself and Papa Don.  But, somehow it wasn't enough and the call to come home was greater than all of us together. So he returned to the island and now, there is a hole where he once stood,

"Help the people," D would say. "Brudda always said the real work is to help the people." D said I helped to make his dream come true when I married him to my friend. They have been a part of my life for so long, they feel like family.  I don't know what happened last week in Jamaica, but I will help my friend mourn and together we will pick up the pieces, and begin again. We have good reason to do so because D left behind more than just my friend; he left a daughter. A little bit of himself for us to love and cherish. I will be traveling to Kingston soon to help my friend bring home her husband and her child. And together with her family, we will make magic for a tiny Italian-Jamaican girl who looks like her daddy and laughs like her mom. This Godmother is very happy that there is yet another ti-fey to add to our growing sosyete.  And I am going keep my word to D, to help, however I can. I have to -- he and Brudda are both watching me now. Ayibobo.

1 comment:

Storm said...

No one can really tell another that they know how you feel; I am sure the pain cuts deep. I know though that D will be remembered and honored because he was your friend and that is worth so much. Blessings upon you, Mambo Pat, and fortitude to face the days ahead and your own private time of mourning.