There is no significant date on the immediate calendar that triggers thoughts of India Mara Stanley this week. My friend died in October of 2004. Her birthday was in February. No significant date. Just significance.
On Tuesday, I'll be reading three poems at the Library of Virginia -- my first genuine reading in more than two decades of writing poetry. I'd like to think that India will be there in spirit. Here's what I wrote about India the night she died:
India was the first poet I ever knew, the first person I knew to truly have a passion for words, for twisting and shaping them on paper with a meticulousness I struggled to understand. It was her affirmation I sought for almost anything creative I tried to write. She only shared brief, and infrequent, pieces of her own writing -- and yet, she was my role model as a writer. I envied her passion for words, and tried to emulate it. I was confused and irritated at her for years for not throwing her words out into the world, loudly and with confidence.
On Tuesday, in her memory, I will throw my words out into the world, loudly and with confidence. Her memory will be wrapped tightly around each syllable.
I'd also like to think that India would be ecstatic and tickled pink that I am now the father of a girl. She would delight in Thea's long fingers and sleepy squeaks. She would like her name.
Last week, I called her parents on a whim -- they'd sent us a nice congratulatory email, and Kathie (India's mom) had spent several hours reading Nikole's weblog about all of the challenges and roadblocks we encountered on our path toward parenthood. We talked for maybe 15 minutes. Our conversation left me warm, and gently sad.
Yesterday, a huge box landed on our doorstep. Nikole and I opened it together, and melted into tears as we read Kathie's note and unwrapped the first of Thea's gifts. The first gift was a large doll that had belonged to India, accompanied by a photo of India in 1974 -- a child delighted beyond belief with her new orange-and-pink, funky mod doll.
There were also books -- new and old. I am utterly captivated by the tattered version of "Mitkey Astromouse," a moderately surreal book published in 1971 by science fiction writer Fredric Brown and illustrator Heinz Edelmann.
To move, or not to move --
from this crazy house.
That is the question.
I'm not sure there is much that trumps the sadness of discovering the layers and depths of friends who are gone, and nothing more fulfilling than realizing that with each new discovery our lost friends are recovered, reborn within us. Thea will grow up playing with India's doll, reading about Mitkey's adventures in outer space, and knowing that she is the product of more love than she may sometimes be able to believe.
Thank you, India. You continue to be an incomparable gift in my life.