It’s a h--- of a day in the neighborhood…I could only find one video of “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood”. More profane than I remembered, so I won’t link to it.
Je suis desolée. LittleBit called me, persistently, while I was going through my messages on the drive home, and when I clicked over, she was barely able to speak. She said, “I have bad news, not the sort of thing that’s right to text-message, and it’s not me, I’m OK, well not really, but we got a call from Brother Stilts’ sister and brother-in-law in Missouri. He was in a bad car accident last week, and he didn’t make it. They got the card you sent him, today, and called me because they couldn’t reach you.” And then we both started sobbing.
One of my Three Musketeers is gone. Graduated from earth life, with its challenges and frustrations and pain. I googled him, and the news stories are archived and unavailable, as are the police reports, though I can send their DPS a modest amount of money and wait for them to mail it to me. I want to know *now*. I’ve left a voicemail on his sister’s phone.
He is one of a blessed handful of men who never lied to me, never over-promised, never disappointed me. And he was the first man I liked that much, and trusted that much, that I did not just stupidly go ahead and fall in love with, because I paid attention to what he said to me, and what he said to others, and I knew he was Not Available. We were singles’ reps together, and he helped me make the move before this one, in four days. He ran an unofficial halfway house for people who were clean and sober, and he kept them honest. And he kept himself honest.
He may not always have gone to church, but he honored his priesthood, and of the four priesthood blessings that he gave to the ill and the afflicted, that I know of, three of them were to my daughters and me. He was a J. Golden Kimball sort of guy, a rough diamond who was not the less a diamond because of the roughness. And I miss him fiercely.
I do not think I could miss him any more if we had been sweethearts, or lovers. Our friendship was pure and chaste and lively, with an emotional and spiritual intimacy that people who jump the gun and fall into bed can never know. This friendship is one of the touchstones that I measure any potential romance against.
When I had my near-fiancé experience two years ago, I called to bounce some ideas off him. He sent me two cards and a letter within the next week; he was not much of a writer. Maybe a call for my birthday, but we could go months without talking and still pick up where we’d left off. In one of the cards, he counseled me: “Be good. Be smart. Be careful.” And when the near-fiancé turned out to be a loon, I called Brother Stilts, a little sniffly, and reported that I’d been all three, and that his advice had saved me a lot of trouble and heartache.
We really didn’t touch. I knew without his saying anything that he was a man with deep reserves of passion, who kept his passions bridled so that he would be worthy to serve the Lord. He was old-school Catholic before he joined the church. I was twice-divorced and determined to color inside the lines. And so we kept a seemly distance.
The day before he moved to MO, he mowed the yard of the house where he’d been living. He came over with a bottle of aloe and asked me to doctor his back. Which I did, moved to tears that he trusted me to step just far enough inside his boundaries to maybe stave off skin cancer, and not so far inside that there would be something to discuss with the bishop.
For those of you who are not LDS and are scratching your heads in puzzlement, we are a modest people, and a reverent people who honor our bodies as the temples of our spirits. I had never seen him with his shirt off, nor expected to. I think the keynote of our friendship was reverence. We bickered and laughed, we served together and we served one another, and we honored one another and by doing so, we honored God.
I love that line from Steel Magnolias where Weezer tells somebody “I love you more than my luggage.” That became a code-phrase with Brother Stilts and me. I’d close our phone conversations by saying “more than my luggage, bro”, and he would laugh and say, “yeah, me too”. A rowdier version of “ditto” from Ghost, if you will.
More than my luggage, bro. More than my luggage.
- Five years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!