Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Inverness

On Friday the 9th I flew to San Francisco for my friend Cayce's memorial service. I was still somewhat in shock, desperately worried about his wife, Chela and sons, Django and Taj. Cayce ended his own life and it shocked many people. I knew that I needed to go to the service to give and receive whatever comfort I could.

On Saturday morning Windy, Laura and I drove to Inverness in west marin county, where the service was held. We took the more scenic route over Nicasio Valley road. I thought it would be too depressing to drive through the yuppie enclaves of Ross and Fairfax. Green, windswept hills, rain and grey skies made it really feel like we were going to a funeral and added to the catharsis. We didn't talk a lot in the car but remembered to tell one another that we loved and cared about each other like sisters (despite the bickering, Windy added, is she trying to tell me something?). Poor Laura had only learned about Cayce's death the day before because she had been in Germany. She didn't have any time to adjust to it before going to the service and she seemed pretty raw.

When we approached the porch of the house I saw nothing but long faces. It was painful, I didn't know if I was ready to see Chela. How can I explain how amazing this family is? I was so lucky to spend Christmas, 2006 with them as an honorary Jew. The five of us, with Chela's Mother, sister, brother, nephew, sister-in-law, and Jesse all went for a walk in Tilden Park. It was a gorgeous day and even though I really hadn't ever spent a holiday with these people, they made me feel as though I was one of the family. Chela and Cayce radiated a unique warmth which I was touched by the first time I met them. They were High School sweethearts. They broke up after school but came back together a few years later. They were the best parents I ever met. Elisabeth introduced them to Dmitra and Pascal because Dmitra and Chela were pregnant at the same time. The four of them were instant best friends. We were all a circle and now the circle is temporarily broken.

Several people spoke and Alan recited from Hebrew texts. Many people shared their memories. The hardest part was seeing Cayce's Mother, she seemed shattered. I knew that she is very ill herself and Cayce had been to see her in January. Glenn played Townes Van Zandt's If I needed you, and was really struggling with it when he asked for some help. I stood up and tried to fill in the melody to keep him going. If you know me, you know that I almost never sing in public. That was weird but I'll blame Cayce because of the musical encouragment he gave me. I was proud to sing for him, and I actually remembered the words.

The magic of putting 60 grieving people in a room together happened and by the end of the slideshow the mood had dramatically shifted. People were talking and smiling and remembering, hugging and appreciating one another. There was enough food for us all to live there for days. After the sun went down there were just a few of us, sitting around the fire, listening to Sean sing his beautiful songs. There was magic there in the house. Maybe it was Cayce's spirit, maybe it was just a room full of love. Whatever it was I think it helped us all to feel better, knowing that we were united by our love for Cayce and his family. I hope we can all remember.

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