I’ve lost three friends in three months. LaMarr Fields, Rev. Mark Bidwell, my Cass Tech High School classmate Gordon Barnard.
Each lives inwardly as long as I will live; and at 75 that may be of short duration or, hopefully, until age 86 when my England-born grandmother on my mother’s side passed. (I tell myself longevity is gifted through a grandmother’s gene. That precious bit of Anglo Saxon DNA, and my art and writing – among other things! – keeps me going.)
It was a joy to know Dearborn theater director LaMarr, whom I met at MCC-Detroit, and discovered we had friends in common dating back to the mid-1950s. I knew Rev. Bidwell for 25 years. He was supportive and caring of me and my spiritual needs, as he was for so many, many others.
Gordon got in touch with me ten years ago, calling BTL to reestablish a friendship that began when we were in our newly out twenties. For these rekindled years we spoke daily without fail. If only I had hugged him when I visited him in the hospital. If only. If only. Then. This e-mail I shared with BTL co-publishers Susan and Jan.
“I had headaches and tensions late Monday afternoon and evening. I wondered if I’d be able to get a good night’s sleep. But it proved a reasonably sound sleep, no tossing, no turning, no getting up to go to the bathroom, waking at 6:15 a.m.
“I decided it was too early to face a gloomy day, so I cushioned myself between my two pillows as I usually do to drown out distracting sounds outside, again fell asleep, and this scenario took place in dream land:
“I found myself in another city. It was pleasant, warm. Sunny. I wandered comfortably there. Eventually I stopped in what may have been a gay club or gathering place and observed, seeing someone there whom I found attractive, and I thought had noticed me.
“Continuing my looking around I caught a glimpse of someone I did know – happy to see a familiar face – and made my way through the crowd to him. It was Gordon! He looked years and years younger. Mid-thirties. Instant bonding once more. He was with someone I didn’t know, but I got the impression they were together.
“Gordon’s outfit was different, but it was impeccable, stylish, the kind of attire he so often took pride in wearing. His old self. We were happy to see each other. Like old times. Smiling. His old campy self. As though he had not died at all. Just relocated. In good health. No frailty. No pain. The life of the party. Still a Hollywood legend in his own mind.
“For a few days now, Susan and Jan, I’ve been wanting to send you this short poem by Emily Dickinson that I long ago committed to memory:
“Our share in night to bear/ Our share in morning/ Our blank in bliss to fill/ Our blank in scorning/ Here a star. There a star./ Some lose their way/ Here a mist. There a mist./ Afterwards day.”