I had never seen this particular photo of my brother Garrett until it arrived via Gmail last week, a trans-Atlantic bullet train back to the summer of 69.
“I was looking through albums and boxes of photos last week and came across Gary’s picture from all those decades ago. I started thinking of him again – as I have from time to time…”
Forty-five years later a lady in London had Garrett on her mind. So she Googled him. Don’t we all? Whether searching for restaurants, plumbers, prospective lovers or those from long ago, we Google.
“ … to see if there was any trace of his journey through the years. I am so glad I did, because this is how I stumbled across your terrific book. Took me right back to another time and place.”
This woman, who was part of a broad Ft. Worth posse of budding hippies in a provincial Texas town in 1969, had wondered from time to time, whatever happened to that rascal she was so smitten by.
“I only went out with Gary a few times but fell pretty hard. He was irresistibly gorgeous and charismatic. I still remember his voice and his laugh and his wit. One Saturday he invited me over to some wild house in Arlington Heights. By the time I managed to finagle use of my dad’s car to get over there – arriving late – Gary’s attention had been captured by another girl. I sloped around hopefully, and shamelessly, for the rest of the party, and then departed, despondent, carrying a brightly burning torch.”
Clearly, the lady in London is a writer. She went on to tell me a little bit about her life post-Gary. On the rebound, she met the man who would eventually be her husband. She was widowed at a very young age. After that, she chucked it all — packing her belongings in a bag “smaller than the purse she lugs around now” and backpacked alone around Europe for few months. Cheryl Strayed ain’t got nuthin’ on this Cowtown chick. She lived in New Mexico for a while, drove around the countryside with her dogs ( can you spell k-i-n-d-r-e-d spirit ? ) and landed in London in 1978 where she’s been ever since, in guess what? The publishing industry.
In soggy London, (as she described it) in the first week of July, my brother’s photo made this sweet Texas girl stop and think. She wondered, like so many of us have, “what ever happened to…?” Instead of brushing it off like a headache, she took the time to honor the offering of her young heart on the altar of love, or at the very least, the pursuit of it. She took the time to investigate.
“But I was so very sad to learn of his death. I am just so sorry that his time came so early.”
So am I. My brother Gary has been gone for twelve years. Twelve years! It catches in my throat to say it. It shocks me. I remain in denial. I cannot believe I was robbed of his company and it makes me angry.
But, we see. We see that stories are worth telling. The sacrifice, the mania, late night tears dripping over inanimate computer keys to resurrect the dead. We see that it means something. Lives are not forgotten.
And we feel the everlasting presence of one sweet soul.