Kent Larson is dying, imminently, and I’ve only met him once. I remember the day, it was my brother Peck’s wedding to Kelly, almost 21 years ago exactly, and I was there at the reception with 18 month old Sasha; cool, slightly snooty and full of myself. Kent was friendly, as Father’s of the Bride would be, and treated me with a graciousness that, frankly, shames me to remember today.
Late this afternoon, I’m sitting with Kelly in Bevie’s house. She’s regaling me with stories of her dad’s final days; all the i’s he is dotting, t’s he still believes he has to cross. His body, riddled with a cancer that he has valiantly fought, losing the battle, but Goddamn, his Spirit, taking care of everyone but himself to the bitter end. “I have about 5 days left,” he tells his daughter. “Sus, she says to me, Can you believe him?” “It’s great, I say. “He’s fabulous. And so are you.”
Thank God I mean it, and immense thanks to the Universe that I’ve learned a lesson or two about compassion and heart and community; how to be loving and decent and gracious in every single encounter I make. To be called to be the best person that I can be was not an invitation that I initially accepted willingly; although late-ish to this table, saying yes, to the bittersweetness of my life over and over and over again has changed me inexorably. The doors of my world have flown wide open to embrace people places and things that pull me towards a life as yet unknown; smoothing out my jagged edges in such a way that being alive feels more like a free flowing river, no damning necessary, required or contained.
As I travel West, I’ve had the privilege to be in relationship with so much of life in such a variety of expressions that it has literally taken my breath away; mostly because of the variety of different forms it takes: Mangled memories and never before hugs, my kids transparent support of a choice that they wish I had not made, my mother’s blue cheese dressing, the guy at Caribou coffe that asks me why I keep showing up every day with my computer, the shine off lake Minnetonka as I take my daily walk, my friend, colleague and muse of more than 20 years, Shelley Lanzkowsky calling me indefatigable in a job reference; the countless cuddly of expressions of support through all varieties of social media from so many loving, love-filled friends. My tears in the middle of the night when the darkness invites a certain kind of wonder.
And now, Kent Larson, my sister-in-law Kelly’s father, dying too young at 75. A man I never treated that well, getting folded up into this messy, lovely spilling-over community of upholding and glimmery love and trust. And he had his own, and still will, even when his physical body is so soon no longer here. Such is my blessed ever-expanding incomprehensible life.
Tomorrow, Bevie and I are taking a day trip to Stillwater. “Pops loved it there, Kelly told me tonight. “There’s a great Mexican, try it for lunch.” And so I will, humbly accepting his suggestion, perched on the edge of this often unfathomable, limitless existence, staring out in hope, wonder-filled, wide-open.