August 3rd, 2009:
I had no particular plans for what to write about today until I heard myself musing about various remorses and losses weaving through this time. That's become an accelerated part of my life in the past weeks. Right now many people I know are in Santa Fe at the opera, and in a normal year, I would be there too. And in a couple of weeks, I had plans to go to Seattle for the Ring. Not this year. Not ever again. No more live performances of the Ring for Geo. As I was riffing through my inventory of giving up, I kept circling around a particularly keen loss. I am struggling with not having a chance to help raise my godson Willem. That's been the magnet for my attention today.
Not being a living, active godfather to Willem has an unexpected sharpness and poignancey that surprises me each time I feel it. Perhaps because I never created any solid plans for having children--although at one time in my life I was an expectant father--I had put to rest my thoughts of being a parent several years ago. During my past life regressions, it helped me to learn that I'd been a nurturing, happy parent many times. Even today, I can go to that place in me that loves children and knows how much I love to raise them. After Willem was born, I went over to meet him and I have to say, I arrived expecting to be charmed and to celebrate that he'd arrived. I had no idea that he would immediately exert such a powerful hold on me. I did not expect to feel so personally attached to him. How could a month old baby do that? In this case the answer was: easy.
When his parents Kris and Darius asked me to be Willem's godfather, I was deeply honored. How exciting to know that I would have a place in this child's life as a spiritual advisor and guide. For the first months of his life, his godmother Christine and I would visit him once a month for "Willem night." Willem would play with us for a couple of hours at the beginning of the evening before going off to sleep. Then the adults would join together for dinner and talk about Willem. Always so much to say about his growth, his special characteristics and emerging individual self. Since Willem moved to Portland around the time of my first chemo treatment, I have only had a chance to see him once when I went up for my Mom's memorial service at the end of March. At that time, Willem had grown hugely. He'd graduated from crawling to walking. He had started to speak enough to point out the window and say "squirrel" when a gray squirrel ran across the lawn. That seemed quite brilliant to me.
As I'm writing this, I'm realizing how I keep Willem alive in my apartment in San Francisco by putting up pictures of him here and there where I am likely to see them. For all the joy that I feel by looking at him and reminding myself that he is here, I haven't done much planning about our future. I haven't fantasized about what I'd like to offer him as the future unfolds. That seems like an appropriate reaction, given that much of my work in the past months has been to drastically scale back my expectations of how much time remains to me.
The sharp "Ouch" that I mentioned in the beginning of this entry comes from being certain that I know Willem. I know him and I love him and he's arrived in this life just as I'm about to leave. I want more living time with him. I want to teach him things I know, and I want to learn from him. I want to be dazzled as his character and talents and hopes emerge. This is not going to happen. What will happen in the next days is that I will fly to Portland and have another visit with him. It will be such a comfort to reel in more time with him and give my time to him. That's what I can do in the short term.
Even though he's one of the newest people in my life, Willem is already teaching me huge lessons. Like how to love and let go. Recently, several people have said that they are having a hard time with the fact that I'm dying because they don't want me to leave their world. At first, I was honored by the sentiment, but I didn't deeply get it. Now, via the poignancy of realizing that I will not have time and experience with Willem, I understand that feeling much more closely.