Lament for Darcy Gen

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“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 1986 Cabrillo nursing school graduationI 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.

14 thoughts on “Lament for Darcy Gen

  1. Marjie

    My heart sends waves of compassion. I’m so sorry. Alcoholism is a subtle foe. I have personal knowledge of this. I too have buried friends who have lost the battle to fear and despair. Heart wrenching.
    I am sorry for your loss and hers.

  2. Suzanne

    Thank you for adding to my knowledge of Genevieve’s life…I’ve known her since ’94. She was the first friend I made after my move to Nevada County that year. I was taken with her from the moment I heard her speak. Over the years there were times we were close and times we went our separate ways. I’m grateful in the past few years that our friendship deepened. At the end of her life, she knew she was loved, and she loved her friends and her sister, but it was no longer enough. As you say above, the guilt over Jer and alcoholism were too much.

    I hope to meet you at her memorial on the 4th. The room will be filled with love.

  3. Deborah Bella

    Words fail me. What a terrible loss. May Darcy and her son find healing and peace, along with those who mourn their loss. Blessed be.

  4. Moonroot

    Dear Anne,
    My heart goes out to you. This seems to have been a truly horrible year for so many people and this is yet another sad loss. I hope 2008 will be better for us all. Sending love to you.

  5. Sia

    I’m so sorry, both for your loss and her’s.

    I did not know her, but I’d wish I’d known she was struggling. Those of us who are in Spiral Steps would have reached out to her. While you can’t save anyone, sometimes it helps to talk to those who have been there before and come out the other side.

    So often it is the Helpers who need the most help and can’t – or won’t – ask for it. So sad. And also how wonderful that she worked to heal and strengthen others, even when she herself was in pain in this life. May she find the peace in the next life that she did not find in this one.

    Love and Hope for the New Year,


  6. Pandora

    Baby, I’m so sorry.

    I didn’t know her, but she’s my sister, nonetheless — and at my meeting tomorrow, when I pray for those of us still out there, she’ll be in my heart — as are you.

    I’m very glad she got some time in recovery. I’m sorry she couldn’t stay.

    all my love, Pandora

  7. Janie

    My heart goes out to you and Margann and all of Genevieve’s friends. I heard from friends of mine in Nevada City about the suicide, and although I didn’t know her personally, empathized with their great sadness. I look forward to being with you next weekend.

    Much love,

  8. ann flowers

    May 2008 be full of peace and healing for you.

    Must say 2007 was a tough year for you.


  9. Hecate

    May the Goddess guard her. May she find her way to the Summerlands. May her friends and family know peace.

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