Hoof and horn, hoof and horn
All that dies shall be reborn
Corn and grain, corn and grain
All that falls shall live again.
I never thought I’d be saying those words for a close friend who was not that much older than myself. James passed through the veil on January 17th at the age of 41. A healthy, active man for most of his years, it came as a huge shock to all of us who knew him.
I met James in December of 2003 on the advice of a mutual friend. He and I hit it off and began a relationship that never quite might it into fully romantic. We shared some common interests but the spark just wasn’t there. I was still hooked on someone else, really, and thankfully James was understanding about it. He helped me get through that loss by listening, by being there with a shoulder to cry on, by making me dinner and helping clean out two huge closets that contained a lot of miscellaneous crap from my marriage and past relationship. He helped me move on, just as much and in some ways even more so, than anyone else. He was the first one to step up and put paid to my never-ending divorce by rounding up some others and holding a ritual the night before I was to appear before the judge.
I introduced him to another friend, Mel. Despite a slight difference in their ages, they did hit it off, and she moved to BC when he got a job out there. They married secretly in 2006, a ceremony performed by a Justice of the Peace with only the secretary and a passerby as witnesses. Swept her off her feet, he did. Mel has always said (and I tend to agree) that their spur-of-the-moment elopement was extremely romantic. The pair of them introduced me to S. not long after and that began a complicated long distance relationship that to this day I still hold very dear and still haven’t quite figured out.
Later that same year James, Mel, S. and myself formed a writing circle under the pseudonym Rhada McKai. At the present time we have one novel and a handful of short stories that were in the ‘Work in Progress’ file. When Mel is ready, we’ll talk about continuing our work in James’ memory. For now, Rhada’s only appearance will be in Courting Morpheus (currently in progress for publication with Belfire Press).
The wake and passing ritual were held Sunday night, and memorial service on Monday. S. recited a poem by Mary Frye used at both pagan and Christian ceremonies alike:
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
As I lit my candle last Monday after receiving word of James’ passing, I spoke the following words, which began the healing process, and I hope helped give comfort during his passage to the Otherworld.
Nephthys, carry James swiftly and gently to your realm. Hold him as dear to your heart as we here have held him as dear to ours. Give him the strength to meet the next life with happiness and health. So Mote It Be.
James’ favorite novel was Watership Down. I ended my personal blog with this same phrase, finding it fitting for one such as he.
My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.
Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project. Her writing has appeared in several recent anthologies as well as magazines on and offline for the past decade. Having shelved her first novel for the time being, she is currently working on two (or three) novels set in the fictional town of New Bedlam.