“Weaver, Weaver, weave her thread
whole and strong into your web,
Healer, Healer, heal her pain
in love may she return again.”
—Tune Scottish trad., words by Starhawk
“Friends were calling up all day yesterday
All emotions and abstractions,
It seems we all live so close to that line
And so far from satisfaction.”
—Joni Mitchell, “Song for Sharon”
I first met Darcy Gen when we were barely in our 20s. She had just moved out to the West Coast to be with her sister Margann, my best friend and housemate. Darcy was escaping a life of dead-end jobs, alcohol, and abusive boyfriends back East, and we folded her into our new family with all the enthusiasm and optimism of youth.
It took a few years for Darcy to find her footing, but she had the courage to look life in the eye and rise to any challenge. She struggled with the low self esteem that caused her to seek out men who were no good for her. She knew she had a problem with drinking and hauled herself out of those patterns too, finding new strength in recovery.
In time she met a decent guy, and they got married and moved to the Sierra foothills. She connected with the social services community in her new home, and found fulfilling work helping the victims of domestic violence. Over time, as her first and then second marriages crumbled, Darcy Gen remained committed to stopping the cycles of poverty and abuse.
At some point in the story she started going by her middle name, Genevieve. Like a good friend, I asked her whether she wanted me to stop calling her Darcy. She said no, she liked knowing there were people who had known her long enough to remember when she was still Darcy Gen.
She had a son by her first husband, and somewhere I have a picture of Jeremiah and Lyra at 2-3 months, lying side by side in his crib when Margann and I drove up to visit Darcy after his birth. This picture was taken back in 1986, when all of us celebrated Margann’s graduation from nursing school in our boisterous way. Darcy is by her side.
Adolescence proved a wildly turbulent time for both Jeremiah and his mother. Last year on my birthday I got the news that Jeremiah had committed suicide. It is a parent’s worst nightmare, and my heart went out to Darcy Gen that year, as every young man with a hooded sweatshirt walking down the road looked like her son.
Yesterday, the news was even worse. Still blaming herself for his death after a year and a half, and succumbing to the family demon of alcoholism again, Darcy took her own life this week.
In a year filled with losses, I am reeling from this latest blow. I hardly know what to say, and I don’t want this to become the Blog o’ Bummers, but I couldn’t turn the wheel of this season without remembering my old friend and wishing her peace at last.
I will start out 2008 by going to her memorial next weekend, sharing in her sister’s grief and being present, like families do. And I dearly wish for this to be the last lament of 2007. Surely a day’s reprieve is not too much to ask.