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Not just another one, but someone June 5, 2009

Posted by The Typist in 8-29, Federal Flood, Hurricane Katrina, je me souviens, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.

Today one of the closest friends of one of my oldest and dearest friends died. His certificate of death will read cancer but in his story we see he was in part another victim of of Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood.

His story as told by Victoria Slind-Flor is here. It says, in part:

John never recovered from Katrina. Every task of daily living was three times more difficult for him. He had constant car trouble, and sometimes had to take his bicycle long distances to any of the stores where he could buy groceries. He began eating only one meal a day, and because shopping was so difficult, his food choices became more and more limited. The first time I saw him post-Katrina, when he came out for a visit, I was appalled as he’d lost so much weight and had such ill-fitting clothing. And he seemed so much more anxious than he’d ever been before. Each time he came out to California, he saw more risks, more dangers, more causes for anxiety in all directions. I’d go out into the garden to water and come back inside finding him sitting in exactly the same rigid and vigilant position he was in when I left. He didn’t sleep well at night when he was here, constantly waking and looking around anxiously.

There is a hidden pattern in this story that perhaps only I see, a revelation that the events of 8-29 were one of the last great events of the 20th century. John was certainly marked all his life by his experiences in World Word II as a child. His life, it seems, was booked marked by great upheavals. Epochs do not end neatly in years which end in zero, and I think the failure of our Twentieth Century engineering and the reaction of our governments, hamstrung by the great, late-century conservative revolution of sabotage by tax cut, all brought us to where we are today. The story of New Orleans is as as much a disaster of the Twentieth Century as the burning of the Hindenburg.

And John, like so many of our oldest citizens, survived but just barely, less well equipped to survive the vicissitudes of life. I am reminded of the friend of my mother’s who died well after 2005 but who’s family marked on her stone “victim of Katrina,” of the story someone told at the Rising Tide conference two years ago of the elderly gentleman who simply gave up trying to rebuild his own home and calmly walked into the river.

If you have been here long enough you will know that part of what I do here is in remembrance of 8-29-05, in remembrance of The Dead. My friend Victoria is a Pagan and tells us herself what she will do come Samhain this year, not too unlike what I sometimes do here: Remember.

Every year at Samhain, it’s my privilege to stand on the top of a mountain under the stars, in the middle of a circle of friends, and call out the names of the Beloved Dead, who have passed from this life during the previous year. This year, John’s will be one of the names I will call. And my friends will slowly dance a circle around me, chanting softly “What is remembered lives” at each name. John, you will always be remembered with love and affection. Thank you for the gift you were to me, and to many others.

Je me souviens.


1. Editilla~New Orleans Ladder - June 5, 2009

Bless Your Heart, Mark.
It is never easy being Speaker of the Dead.
While I’m not exactly pagan, I do hope your friend John decides to come on back sooner than later.


2. Glenn - June 5, 2009

We’re all experiencing the steady steps to our own passings since that day.

Aren’t we?

There are nights – at my age! – I find myself calling out to my mom and dad to come into my room and reassure me that there’s nothing to be afraid of here in the dark. But they’re gone now, and I have to make my way alone to the light.


3. KamaAina - June 5, 2009

You know I normally don’t play “spelling Nazi” with you (I do have to work, you know ;-P ), but “closet friends”? Surely you didn’t mean to impute anything about the deceased’s sexual preference!!


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