Paula Hendricks

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bobshaw bobshaw

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bob shaw santa fe nm

Bob Shaw, Santa Fe, NM

i just found out a friend died. two and one half years ago. no one called me. i hadn’t talked to him in ages, obviously. and he died. and my life went on without him. without knowing.

i found out when i was doing one of my infrequent middle of the night reaching out to see who i haven’t contacted in a while and i wonder if they are on facebook odysseys. i emailed bob and got a mailer daemon back. the next day i called and got a disconnected message. i googled him and found an obituary.

he was very talented in so many ways — as a writer, a playwright, an actor. he had this slow way of talking, an oklahoma drawl, a way of drawing out his words that reflected his thoughtfulness but also his childhood. there was alcohol in the family and he was a seeker — and he invited me into his circle. it was one of those times and one of those places where that invitation, that appreciation was of enormous value. i did not know i was a writer. but i had left my life in the fast lane of new york ad agencies (not in the creative department) and moved to santa fe. to quit everything i knew to open myself to something more creative. bob welcomed me.

the santa fe writers group. i have not found its primal equivalence since. of the 6-10 writers, 3 that i know of are dead. and i am so grateful to them, to all of them, and especially to bob, for letting me be part of the group and encouraging me to write.

he was funny and serious and his writing was always compelling. he was a thoughtful commenter and supporter of others’ work. he was a friend. a person i valued highly in the warp and weft of my life. i know i know i didn’t call him often enough. i have a lot of friends like that. i can’t handle too many on a daily basis.

he took photographs of me. he made me feel welcome and valued in my first writers group in santa fe.

bobshaw was the one who kept me informed when Kat was dying. another fabulous writer. she had MS. her husband left her, he couldn’t handle it. she had had electroshock treatments when she was young in an attempt by her family to dissuade her from living in a commune and exploring the ways many did in the 60s. we always wondered whether that contributed to her later getting MS. she wrote a column for the local newspaper right up til the end. bob gave me her email address so kat and i could be connected directly, even after i had moved to san francisco. we read each others’ work as long as we could. i knew she was writing with a blow tube. and that connection went deep.

no one did this for me and bobshaw.

i let it go. i let him go. i moved on. i don’t know if i’m in a better place. oh, i’m better and i’m in a better place because of bob and the group, but i don’t know if i’m better off because i moved on.

the last time we talked he seemed depressed. he wasn’t writing. he was thinking about moving to albuquerque from santa fe. to the area near the university, downtown. he was living in his sister’s condo. he wasn’t working much, there wasn’t much work for him — as a professional photographer in santa fe. everyone began taking their own pictures. he hadn’t made the transition to digital. it was eight months before he died.

i didn’t call him back. i suppose i hoped he would call me if he wanted or needed me to listen, to hear him. and now he’s gone. and i’m finally in tears.

I hear his flat drawl. I see the words he has written to me. i see him looking with amusement into my camera lens.

bob shaw in santa fe new mexico

Bob Shaw

i dug around and found that i had talked with him in april. that we exchanged a few emails. this is how it is with some. i remember my high school friend randy. we’d both gone east to college. he ended up in calgary. i went to banff one summer and we drove through the northern rockies in his vw van listening to pharaoh sanders. we would call once a year. and one year he didn’t call. eventually i called and he was gone. died while cross country skiing with his family.

i know bob was not young. i know that i’m of an age when this will happen more and more and is in the natural course of things. i know he didn’t call me either. that at the end i wasn’t high on his list. but i still feel guilty. i still feel i could have somehow done something. something more.

i’m letting go of family things. i’m feeling overwhelmed by stuff i don’t use and can’t imagine wanting to use anytime soon. i have scoffed at my friend karen, who lives without many things — almost an ascetic existence. and have never imagined i could do the same. but i look around and want more air, more breathable space.

there are things i can let go of easily and things i cannot. i can let go of clothes i don’t wear, things i thought once i wanted but have not really used. i’m even thinking of letting go of art supplies i thought i would use and still want to use but am not using. i want more room for people. and more time. why am i equating space with time?

other things in my life are falling apart, too. things i can’t seem to write about yet. so i’m grieving for more than bobshaw. i’m looking at things i don’t want to give up. things i have loved, and still love. i want more than just memories.

i woke in the middle of the night, two nights running. i don’t want to move. i am exhausted. my throat is tight. my eyes feel too big for their sockets. i somehow know i will be all right, but right now i’m thinking about the deaths of things. my deep connections to things dead or dying. the grieving and the gratitude are all mixed together. i wouldn’t change a thing of what i had, especially with bobshaw.

Written by phwebnet

May 20, 2011 at 6:54 pm