Charlie is gone. He passed away at home on August 13. There is a big hole in the world, and we are heartbroken. While we held him and gently stroked him and looked into his eyes, there was one last “I love you” tail thump and then he was gone. The rest of the day we couldn’t stop crying. That evening, after a long drought spell here in the mountains, it rained. Heaven’s own tears mixed with our own, and I couldn’t help thinking it was Charlie’s doing, sending us the rain.
And now I have the afterthoughts, and his legacy; and this is what I think, and this is what I know.
Human beings have a complex, overstuffed, and often befuddled cortical processor that produces alienation from the pure, simple truth and tends to get caught in stagnant backwaters on the river of life, slowly revolving in circles of social and existential angst, often seeking peace in desperate prayers in one form or another. They find themselves asking question like Jackson Browne asks in the song “Looking East”:
“How long have I left my mind to the powers that be?
How long will it take to find the higher power moving in me?”
Charlie never asked such questions. He just moved with the higher power in him that is in us all. He lived in the moment. Love is something most human beings think they know, and don’t. Charlie didn’t bother to think about it, he just lived it. The power of love was what he was. He lived with love and beheld love in all the people and places and things he met. He simply loved the higher power present in every moment, the power in all the things he encountered while he was here. Among them are the things Jackson Browne wrote of, and I can see Charlie with us in the times and places when the three of us, together, met them all:
“…the power in the insect, the power in the sea;
the power in the snow falling silently;
the power in the blossom, the power in the stone;
the power in the song being sung alone;
the power in the wheat field, the power in the rain,
the power in the sunlight and the hurricane;
the power in the silence, the power in the flame;
the power in the sound of the lover’s name.
The power of the sunrise, and the power of a prayer released.”
Yes, people pray. And the prayer well and truly released always returns the answer. Charlie knew that answer. Everything in us, every thing around us which sings in the heart and is beautiful and interesting – that’s the answer to every prayer. People rarely realize that, don’t hear it, don’t see it, aren’t touched by it. They’re too busy waiting for their own answer.
Charlie never said a prayer in his life. He knew the answer. He was the answer. This great, challenging, tricky, wonderful, interesting, joyful, heart-filling world is the answer.
When Lenore and I speak of “our life together,” it includes all the great souls we have encountered and lived with since we met. Charlie is one of those great souls and will always live in and with us.
It’s both humbling and affirming to know that we were all brought together because we belonged together. I am particularly humbled by that knowing; that somehow, for reasons beyond my own understanding, I have been granted the inexpressible grace of the presence of such great souls in my life.