Please don't mourn as I depart, for that is when my life will start.
No longer will I be facing death, I'll be breathing Heaven's breath.
Please don't weep, don't weep for me,
I'll be home in Eternity." Bob Gotti 1957 from "Don't Weep for Me."
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote "Show me a hero, and I'll write you a tragedy."
Somehow, for me, a writer, I always seem to be writing tragedies. My play "The Street: A Modern Tragedy" was partly autobiographical, based on the unfortunate demise of my first love who had become a heroin addict. My second play House of the Muses (work in progress) is about the poet Sappho who committed suicide because of unrequited love. The protagonist, Olwen, of my first-person w.i.p. novel Dragons in the Sky: A Celtic Tale is a somewhat tragic heroine too. And my current w.i.p. Shadow of the Lion about the fall of Alexander the Great's dynasty, is a classic Greek tragedy.
And once again, today, I am writing a tragedy -- one that is true. That is, the unfortunate death of my friend Anibal who passed away last Friday.
He was a man who loved life, who was a champion for social justice, working for the poor and oppressed, a hero in his own country, Chile, who was forced to flee Pinochet's military junta and lived here in exile. He was a scholar, a philosopher, a writer, a poet, a musician -- a man who lived passionately in everything he did. He was my mentor, in a way, as well as my friend. He encouraged me to read more, learn more about philosophy and educated me about the politics of his country. He spoke often of "nostalgia" and "melancholy". He longed for his homeland. He read voraciously -- almost always had a book with him -- and it was he who introduced me to his favorite poet, Pablo Neruda.
You are taken in the net of my music, my love,
and my nets of music are wide as the sky.
My soul is born on the shore of your eyes of mourning,
In your eyes of mourning the land of dreams begin.
Pablo Neruda "In My Sky at Twilight."
It was truly a tragedy that Anibal had to die. He said to me several times during his weeks of intense suffering "What have I done that was bad?" Of course, he had done nothing. His illness, cancer, was one of the great misfortunes that can happen to any of us. He had lived his life well, taken care of himself, so who can say why these things happen? Truly, his death is a tragedy, a great loss for everyone -- his family, his many friends. He said to me once, "We will be friends til the end of time." And yes, we will be, Anibal, because I will never forget you. Nor will I forget all the wonderful things you taught me in our long talks and discussions. Especially, when I hear the music, I will remember you and your brilliant smile. But now you are going home, where you always wanted to be. And we who loved you will never forget you.
The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways -
I to die, and you to live. Which is better, God only knows.
Plato 428-348 BC Apology (ibid 42)
Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
William Shakespeare 1564-1616 Hamlet Vii, 373