Tomorrow, I fly to Japan and will start the daily Japan blog. Louie called yesterday. The excitement is building. This will be my last random blog until I return.
This has been a year of losses. Loss does seem to pervade middle age and I am no exception. On August 11th, 2008, I lost my friend Inayat Anderson. This anniversary is coming up soon. I am not through the grief.
Inayat’s wife and I have been friends since the 9th grade. She is my best friend. We haven’t always been best friends, we’ve woven in and out of close relationship especially during the early years. But friends we’ve stayed, and as we’ve become older, I think we both value that friendship even more. We aren’t exactly alike. We both have the same eclectic decorating style, we both love thrift stores, we like to travel, we both read a lot and love poetry, we are both artists and writers, we both love cats. Peggy is a great cook and I’m not, although I enjoy the benefits of her foodieism. Peggy is an accomplished poet, I write for a hobby. Peggy is a cradle Catholic turned Theosophist, I’m a cradle Methodist turned Catholic. Although we don’t share all the same viewpoints and lifestyle preferences, we are both tolerant of differences. We both have the same values about the essential parts of life and decent behavior. Peggy doesn’t have children, I have three. However, I’m quite sure that Mariah is genetically linked to her somehow because they have the same fashion gene. Any sense of fashion I’ve gained, I’ve gained from studying the two of them.
My “primary” relationships haven’t been so good. I don’t have a good picker as someone once said. Two failed marriages and a third very important love affair also failed. I wasn’t so fond of Peggy’s relationships when we were younger. There was Greg, the great cook but total slob, and some other guys whose names I can’t remember. Then she met Inayat.
Inayat was an oncology nurse who also worked with AIDS patients. This was when AIDS was an automatic death sentence. He was strong, funny, sweet and caring. He was also a styler like Peggy. They cut a dashing path as they walked down the streets of San Francisco. Inayat was movie star handsome and got more so as he aged. He did not think so, despite the fact that people used to stop them and ask for his autograph but say they couldn’t place his name. My fondest memories are us all going out to dinner and having great funny conversations and laughing for hours straight.
Then there was Spa Man. Inayat knew every alternative healing therapy in the book and he practiced on grateful us. We had massages, treatments, ionic cleanses, and a host of new methods he was trying out. I always felt better after all this, probably more due to Inayat’s loving spirit than the machines. We named him Spa Man and thought he should have a cape.
I also remember us walking three abreast in all kinds of City weather talking and laughing all the way. Laughing is what I remember about Inayat. Until the last few years.
And then there were mornings with Inayat, where he’d try to get up before Peggy and I and would deliver us coffee in bed with his big Inayat smile. Peggy gave me Inayat’s coffee cup after he died. Its sitting next to me as write this piece. I treasure it. It has a big smiling cat on it. On work mornings, he ironed his shirts. I remember him padding around the house in his PJs, ironing the shirts in the kitchen and getting ready for work. I miss you Inayat.
Two years ago, I lived at Peggy and Inayat’s flat part time through the school year while I attended Theology school. Because Peggy travels a lot in her job, I got to spend a lot of time alone with Inayat talking. He had become depressed. I urged him to seek help. He was resistant or had ideas to help himself that I didn’t think would work. We continued to talk. Several times I was afraid that he’d take it too far.
On August 11th, it was a Monday, I got a call from Peggy at 4 in the afternoon. With the first word out of her mouth, I knew. Ansel helped me throw everything in the car and 15 minutes later I was on the road, over the Sierras where I would arrive at the flats six hours later. Inayat’s sister was there. Inayat had killed himself. He let a note saying he thought he had Alzheimer’s. He did it in a way that was loving and caring of Peggy, so she wouldn’t be the one who found him. That was so like Inayat.
At first I was angry. We had tried to intervene. How could he do this? Then as we talked, we did recall things that weren’t quite like Inayat over the last couple of years. One was that he had lost his sense of humor.
I miss him so much. Recently, Peggy sent me these pictures. They are hard for me to look at. They are so full of Inayat. I want him back. This is life, so many gifts, and then ones that mean the most go away and we are left to go on. The task is to keep appreciating the gifts we have. Mine is that Inayat was in my life for over 20 years.
Goodbye Inayat. I love you.