He dropped a piece of thread on his way to the suet feeder out back. I didn't pay any attention as I was busy tying up a tall potato vine. Later on, I glanced down and saw something kind of purple and a little bit shiny and I still didn't pick it up. Then something about it caught my eye. It was familiar. I leaned over and looked. Turns out to be a thread over three feet long. It has shiny purple and turquoise bits of thread through it and is very distinctive and I know where I have seen it before. It's the thread I used to sew the quilt for my son's AIDs quilt panel. The panel was turned over to the Names Project in October 1996 and is stored there now with the other 45,000 panels, but that's another story really. What I am concerned about now is the thread.
All day long I have pondered that thread and each thought has led somewhere else, to a different subject with more questions. I will admit, for just a brief little while, the thought of why it showed up brought tears to my eyes, as there is no logical explanation for it. I do not use my sewing stuff very often, it has been possibly six months since I last opened the container. I never use it outdoors and that particular thread has only and will only ever be used on Ed's panel. There is a good rule of thumb I try to apply in cases like this, "don't look for answers where there are none."
So, I will mostly let it go. If there is a God, all questions will be answered in due time. Where the thread came from is so insignificant as to be almost laughable. There is, after all, the question of why a 31-year-old who had never harmed a soul gets to go through hell and then die. I presume God will answer that one also. The gut-tearing pain of those who love him will be answered or not. Does it really matter? Who are we to demand answers? Perhaps, I should say, to desire answers, for desire them we do. We want to know why and we have wanted to know for so long about so many things, that we have come to expect that there must be an answer.
Shortly before he died, by then a skeleton, almost not human, we were watching CNN - the shots of refugees trying to escape the genocide going on in their country and he said, "I am so ashamed." I thought briefly that he meant he had not raised his voice to protest this country's betrayal, but now I'm pretty sure he meant he was ashamed that he felt, perhaps for one second, afraid and sorry for his own death. It would have seemed to him selfish to be thinking of himself when there were those tens of thousands with nothing but hollow eyes and fear. He would have thought that then. He had entered into that space where all becomes clear. And I had not.
He said to me one day 3 or 4 months before he died, "I am not afraid to die." He looked at me and he said, "it is harder to lose someone you love than it is to die." For once in my life I understood instantly what was happening. He was trying to give me a gift with no strings attached, a gift I could carry with me until I reached my own grave, a gift I could choose to accept or let be. He attempted to alleviate my pain - this young man who was going through something unimaginable - he tried to leave me something priceless. And he did.
Eddie, I do not know who you were. But somehow, as every day unfolds in this life I have left, I think I have to thank my father for sending you. Surely you two conspired and I have messed it up horribly, or think I have. Will that someday too turn out to be something else entirely? Will I glimpse a clarity that will allow me to rest?
There go those questions again.