The Richest Man I Know


Several months ago I launched the daily blog in an attempt to work my way out of a lot of psychic distress. I wrote a 02:30 post in the middle of a PTSD meltdown and (somewhat cavalierly) announced that this might be the last year of my life. In my amends post the next day I committed to writing a daily blog and for the most part (with the exception of the first couple of days of preparation for Sun Dance) I have kept that commitment. I decided at that time that I would root out what exactly about my life displeased me so much and set about trying to figure out how to change those things. There was a lot of talk about money and finance, about things I didn’t have and how I was going to try to set about getting those things.


I’ve learned a lot in the past 285 days. I know I’ve spoken a lot lately about how rich I feel because of the friends I have in my life. The past 24 hours has led me to believe that I am the richest man I know.

Yesterday was the hardest day of my life. My body is still shaking from the shock of it. There have been moments when I felt like I was dying as it feels like a part of my physical body is missing. I still cannot believe my mother is not among those living on this earth. So many times today I’ve had thoughts like “I can’t wait to show these flowers to Mother” or “I’m too full; I’m going to take the rest of this to Mother.” The only reason I’m able to survive this is because I’m surrounded by my family and dear friends, many of whom who are like family to me.

I’ve never been one to want to spend a lot of time around dead bodies. I never thought I would “go behind the scenes” at a funeral home to see the things that are involved in preparing someone’s remains to be viewed by their loved ones at the funeral. I especially never thought I’d want to be involved in that process in any way when the person was someone I knew and loved. But when it came time to think about such things as who would prepare Mom for the funeral tomorrow, the choices were clear.

My friend Shana has been doing Mom’s hair for about the last year and my friend Smooch, a member of the family since my childhood and my first college roommate– more, he’s been a dear, dear friend to me– left his job as a successful office manager a few years ago to move to a beach town and Florida and “do nails” for wealthy retirees. I didn’t really know how my request would land with either of them. In both cases, before I could really get the question out, I got some version of “It would be my great honor.” And something inside of me let me know I would have to be there too. Krystle just said, “Me too.”

As we stood there in the funeral home’s “preparation room” I watched my best friend from youth file and paint my mother’s fingernails and one of my newest yet dearest friends attend to her hair and makeup with the greatest of care. My sister-in-law, Krystle was there with the clothes she and I had just picked out. I put the earrings we bought in Mother’s ears, my last time doing this chore of love I’d done a hundred times while she was alive. I looked at the four of us as if I was looking onto a scene I wasn’t a part of– my knock-out cisgendered sister-in-law (my rock in all this), my transgendered friend and spiritual sister (life growing up in Walker County was no picnic for her either), and the two queer men, besties since boyhood. All of us sat solidly in our feminine, nurturing natures today as we prepared the body of this woman we loved so much. It occurred to me that small groups of similar dynamics had been doing this sacred ritual since the times of the Pharaohs. It was an act of supreme love. It is not for the faint of heart. Anyone who says women and queers are weak is deluded.

In addition to these three, I have heard from Marines who deployed to Iraq with me, other people in recovery, veterans I’ve met since I’ve been home, artists, Ceremony people, church folk, extended family and friends from near and far– so many others. Many of them say that they realize that there is nothing they can do to take away the pain and they’re right. But each person who reaches out with some gesture of kindness, a kind word, a casserole, or even an “I’m thinking of you,” takes just a tiny piece of the burden away. That, and the loving support of That Which Created Me make the load just light enough to bear. I am surround by these incredible people and that’s why I say I’m the richest man I know.

See y’all tomorrow.

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