To You, Thomas

I have sat here for months, starting to type this, starting to get out what I know I need to, from what I feel you have shared with me through presence and attitude alone. The last few days, for some reason, I have felt you ever stronger, just spontaneously arising in my mind, in my space, and in that way, I know it is really you and not just me thinking of you on my own.

This story starts before you passed, as I attended the second funeral of my life for a dear friend’s father. It was a ‘traditional’ funeral, complete with preacher who did his thing to a group of seriously affected and mourning people, all stunned by the sudden death of a man who could have had many years more until old age. I just found this, of which I wrote the day after the experience:

“The reverend reads from a dead book, not a microwave cook book, but not far from one, telling us that our emotions are ‘ a bit off right now’, that life isn’t fair for the reason of death and for a parent to bury their son. That all we have when someone is gone are memories to cherish. Through this, he effectively tried to sever the magic of maintaining the sacred… whatever that may be between people and their kin. Explaining about a reality he didn’t seem to understand, he taught me so much as he preached to those who mostly never asked for it: that I will die and be celebrated and sung over, danced around by friends and family, and all emotions allowed to be fully felt. That it will last as long as it does and not a single preservative chemical will enter my being. No burden and no price tag. The Earth is my coffin and that is all. ”

Fast forward to the end of May 2016, and I wake up from a dream that I must call a friend. I call her, and hear the news, that Thomas Fekete had passed away. It took me some time to process, and I don’t think I cried for a few days, and then it suddenly hit me very hard. I met Thomas back in 2009, and had heard of his skating back before then even, in the South Florida circuits. Yet he was more legend then, as I didn’t know him well, but I got close to him due to a dear friend of mine, Lindsey Mills. Through her, I was permitted to enter into his life in a more profound way. I was visiting him in the hospital, sharing healing songs with all the machines hooked up to him, Jessica, his wife, standing by, feeling it. It was then that David Winston’s “anything that changes your mind is medicine” took full evidence in me… watching his heart rate and breathing normalize after singing. I visited him in his home with nourishing foods and herbs and knew that I didn’t know enough, but still could offer myself in some way.

(Picking back on up on this now, 7/12/18)

This was the last post that I had started to write out, and so it feels right to finish it.

I witnessed so much with Thomas, in the few times I had shared with him. I remember one time, bringing a flute over to his apartment, and thinking it would be a better application of working his healing lungs, by simultaneously activating his breathing and making harmonious sounds. I realize the benefit of music to a musician is obvious, but at the level of energy he had, I remember it hard for him to hold the guitar and do his thing. So, as he played the flute, working his lungs, I played chords in key to that of the flute. Just to simply jam back and forth like that, it was like magic illuminating his being. To his request, I left the flute at his place.

“ I really do love myself. What could make me love more is if I could get other people to feel that way about themselves before they fucking die”

I don’t think there is a higher one than this view. It really speaks volumes about the way we run around in our lives, distracted from drama to drama that we convince ourselves is somehow more important than recognizing our humanity, and from there, becoming more kind and compassionate from knowing we don’t have forever. Thomas surrendered to this truth, and he reminded me by presence alone.

Thomas has me often reflect, especially after he passed, how there is a major difference between being healed and being cured. There is no cure for dying, no cure for losing all the things we will lose in this life. Yet, through his illness that took him, I feel Thomas was gifted a compassionate perspective that allowed anyone to come in contact with him to become immediately self aware of anything they might need to be aware of. In this way, he was healed, to me, of a closed heart, the most prominent sickness I encounter. His love continues on in the stories we share about him and the love the world showed him in his crisis.

“Suddenly, I have this circle of actual brothers and sisters and we are just going through the motions together, in heavy hitting profound ways that mean a lot, mean a lot to me. I could cry over it. The scariest thing now about death, is not feeling these things anymore. Where as before, I didn’t really give a shit, I guess I wasn’t really feeling anything at all anyways. Well, now when my cousin sits down and gives me a foot rub just to be nice, you know I want to cry because she is so sweet, she doesn’t have to, and I’m gonna do that now to somebody… I sound like a kid again, learning things the way they should be learned.”

I love you Thomas, rest in peace my brother


journal 5/30/17

Grief Release 5/30/17

“Dad was finally agreeing to something that maybe I should’ve offered myself, but we know how those things go, too close for effective measure. So, after hearing about the discomfort and distention in my Papa’s belly (around his heart and stomach), our friend offered him a Thai massage session to which Papa agreed on.
We huddled into the spacious yurt and allowed the room to be set; my brothers and I sat on the couch, one of their partners sitting with us, and we observed the beginning of any regular body work session. Warming up, getting comfortable, and gentle movements.
Only Papa is a bit different. Ever since I was a young kid, I would watch him on the chiropractor’s table getting an adjustment and moving his body in a way that seemed like he was having a sort of epileptic experience, convulsing with his arms outstretched at his sides, palms up, eyes rolling back, and breathing intensely the whole time while letting out deep outbursts of sonic release. After many years of now witnessing people discharging emotional turbulence and stored traumas of the bodies, I know that he has learned a skill that is nearly unteachable. He refers to it as somatic breath work, a practice he learned when I was just a baby. His body undulates like water and he breathes through it in a trance-like state with nothing stimulating the process besides his own volition and attitude.
As our friend starts to work on him, within minutes, Papa moves into this state of deep exchange of breath and movement. He then, out of nowhere, rises up off the floor and breaks out into the most deep and guttural cry that I have ever heard from my own father since I have been able to remember. I had been in a relaxed state prior on the couch, but upon witnessing this break through, I calmly dipped down to the floor to level with him and started to focus more intensely on relaxation. I called upon my plant teachers and my nervous system lets me know when they come, of which all did.

Some of my family members were concerned in these intense minutes of vulnerability. I mean, how often do we see each other in such a delicate place and feel safe in doing so, from either vantage? It seems very rare to me. Yet, working with ceremony and the daily checking in of myself and others through community, it is of no shock to witness a very necessary human experience, one that most of us have learned to stifle to our very detriment.

If grief has a way in, then it definitely needs a way out. We are capable of carrying and holding onto things for such a long time that we forget why the music of our lives has been so harsh and strangely out of tune. It takes a safe space and deep trust to know that we can even express what needs to be expressed, for fear of judgement and being fully seen can totally block such a catharsis to unfold naturally, as it should.

My family member returns back to the room after a few minutes outside to calm himself down. I explained to him quietly but directly that if he wants to help my father, he must only empty himself and pray. I look beyond him and my family has begun instinctively chanting mantra in an effort to assist.

As we all formed a semi circle concave to my father, our hands guided by the Thai massage practitioner started to gravitate towards my papas hands and legs and I landed my gentle hand on his chest. I began to pray in Spanish, quickly rolling into a spontaneous feeling based thought-less connection to All That Is. I am working with tobacco at this point, blowing it on myself and my fathers hands and heart and head, cleaning him up. I then come back to his heart, and I recognize how close it is, and so I connect to my own space and feel him. The grief is heavy and I erupt in tears, I flow like a river, I cannot stop myself for that would be the failure of the entire session! I cry so hard with him and many of us start to at this point, purging the tension through our eyes, grieving for life herself and the hardships that come of Samsaric dancing. The intensity rises between us all,; the drumming up of an inevitable breakthrough on the horizon.

After a minute of intense crying it starts to slow down and I open my eyes and lift my head off the floor to see my father smiling through tear soaked cheeks, bringing me to recognize the clearing of his chest, the blockage unblocked. We all come up to him on as he is on the floor, one by one, and kiss him and tell him our love. We rise up from the grounding ground and hug each other proper, just like anyone would after a vulnerable release.”

– Listen to grief and praise talk by Martin Prechtel
– We are not usually accustomed to one releasing emotions… How do you react to this experience when it happens around you? How can it get better?
– Do you have a regular way of safely releasing what has been accrued?

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