© 2009 Lynsey

019 – I wish I knew more


My friend George took his own life a few years back. Given that he’d won marksman prizes in the army, and taken many a deer, duck, pheasant, quail, and rabbit, easing a bullet into himself would’ve taken no effort from a technical perspective. When you’re hunting yourself there’s nowhere to hide. George was the brother I never had. I still miss him very, very much.

His mother died when George was in his early teens, and his father died a few years later. Apart from his younger brother, George was alone, and became somewhat absorbed into our family. Like I said, the brother I never had. George, whilst often denying his personal life, childhood, and heritage, was profoundly, albeit secretly, interested in what might be considered the psychic or spiritual aspects of his life.

After a late afternoon pheasant hunt we’d made a fire for a brew. Sweet billy tea has a way of charming yarns out of people and George was in a mood for talking. He told me he’d been to see a fortune teller – a spiritual sort of person – and this raised an eyebrow for me. George was not much given to flights of flakiness and he had obviously taken this pretty seriously.

The teller had told George that she could see people connected to him. A young couple, travelling in haste and in fear, across foggy farmland. They were hiding from soldiers – the countryside was at war. Finally after times of hiding and running they came to a river. They were discovered and shots were fired. Diving in, they swam the river together. They hid for a time in the water on the opposite bank before it was safe to make good their escape.

George’s parents were refugees from what was then Czechoslovakia. They settled here in New Zealand in the early 1950s. George felt sure this was his parent’s story, but he’d never asked them. The ‘could be’ knowledge somehow opened a gap in his heart, and the loneliness and isolation first trickled and then poured in. The wound never fully healed, although I am very sure it, in itself, did not influence his final decision.

Best of all he loved the fall
the leaves yellow on cottonwoods
leaves floating on trout streams
and above the hills
the high blue windless skies
…Now he will be a part of them forever.

Ernest Hemingway’s eulogy for his friend Gene Van Guilder, killed in a hunting accident in 1939.

Sometimes the past is too painful, too complicated, or too … something to bring up. Once George’s parents had gone there was no-one to ask. That’s the problem really. We never think to ask until it’s too late. And it’s always later than you think. I wish I knew more…

Manifesto
10. Every day connect with somebody.
18. Every day express love. Some people need to hear it. Most people need to see it. Don’t take it for granted.
27. Every day pain is a sign of growing.

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