Caity was telling the group of us gathered at the ICU that everyone grieves differently and each way is fine, barring self harm etc. My process always necessitates a blog-post, and to take part in the ritual of post-mortem-facebook-posts, post post post post. It’s a poignant end-of-life yearbook and it is weeping love.
I woke up thinking about how I if I live to be old I will likely experience the deaths of many friends, but then thought “anyone could die at any time.” I was also thinking about David, because he liked the installation I did in my room some years ago and I was always equal parts perplexed and delighted that he thought it was so special.
It’s not uncommon for me to think about death and my friends, in fact those topics are probably in my top 5 most common things to think about. I think about David fairly often because I admire his photography so much. He also comes in conversation frequently, because his booming voice echoes into many Meow Wolf anecdotes.
When I saw a missed call from Amelia I immediately thought: “Something is terribly wrong and someone is dying” which is what goes through my head any time I get an un expected call, and most of the time I am wrong.
My mom bandaged my bleeding fingertip as she dropped me off at the Idiot Haus, where I had the sad-joy of hugging all of my red-eyed friends. Amelia made tea and I sat in the sun with a cat. Whenever someone else came in everyone would take turns hugging them.
As we caravanned to Albuquerque I looked up recent functional imaging studies on coma patients, and read them aloud. We wondered what David was going through. The sun was setting over the mountains and our emotional landscapes made the natural beauty seem surreal.
We sat in a circle in the ICU waiting room, maybe 30 of us passing around a postcard with an anatomical heart design that someone had fished from their bag, writing our thoughts for David. We visited him two or three at a time, from sunset to moonrise. I was one of the last people to visit. David’s mom, brother, and dad greeted everyone in the hall.
David’s mom had gotten his heart beating again through CPR when she found him unconscious in the morning, but my understanding is that he didn’t breathe until he reached the hospital. His brain had swollen from lack of oxygen and he was hooked up to myriad tubes, looking handsome as ever, but deeply unconscious. I didn’t feel any sense of his presence, just the struggle between the bodies’ natural breathing patterns and the ventilator.
There is a specific horror that comes from seeing a loved one on life support that I couldn’t have comprehended before. I imagined what David’s psychological space might be like, which is of course something else I can’t comprehend, so I focused on sending him, whatever he was at the time, pure love.
I held his hand before leaving the room, and realized we would most likely never do our secret handshake again
As always I don’t know what death is and I am left with a big deep spacious feeling. I polish these jewels of memory with my friend. At the funeral there were cards where we could write our favorite memory with David. On one of them I wrote about the time we were in Chicago and in the middle of a quiet workday he loudly proclaimed: “I love tools.” He was so earnest, and it was so funny.
Another fond memory I have with David took place at the beginning of last winter when he was photographing some of his friends nude, originally for a Meow Wolf calendar. He ended up deciding the project needed more time because it was some of his best work.
When I met with David about my photo he bought me breakfast before work and we talked about what would best represent me. In the evening we set up the shoot for a double exposure of me hugging myself. To make the pose David and I would hug and I would hold my arms in the embrace as he slipped out to take the photo. It took five hours with the two of us repeatedly hugging to get the photo. It was a fun night, and we learned about each other in the space he created. Looking at the image now, the negative space where David was is the most affecting part of the photo.
The ongoing process of mourning was soothed and supported by a continual stream of hugs and grief-parties. Matt and Caity opened their house to our community and every night people would get together to make dinner, drink cream soda/rootbeer in honor of David, and sit quietly. We watched The Moon is to Live On, Meow Wolf’s experimental play that David starred in, and finally threw the game night that David had been enthusiastic to initiate. The Dytch Wytch left a box of “live again” incense for everyone and its fragrance lingered in the kitchen as we stood around in silence, tears, and laughter, our emotions suspended between us.
On David’s birthday party in 2012 he was staying at the Hotel Santa Fe. We looked at the photos he had taken of us and sat in the hot tub. It was a hard time for David and that was apparent to the point where every conversation ended up raw and tender. Overall I think we all had a good night however, or at least I did. I saw a shooting star and said so. Vince said “no one cares.” I replied “also I saw a rainbow and I had this dream…” Everyone laughed.
During David’s interment everyone noticed a rainbow. My Facebook status was: “Today I saw a rainbow.” Ironically it was well received. Megan commented: “I think it saw us too.”