[photo by Sunny Savage; Richard Nyerges at right]
I was sitting in a bus, driving through the Guatemalan countryside when I got the call that Richard had died. I was troubled, and upset, and saddened that I’d not see Richard again. I began to think over some of our life together. I thought mostly of childhood incidents, and they mostly made me laugh.
-- The haircuts Richard and I would get from our father. My father would sit us up on highchair in the garage and the whole neighborhood could watch the spectacle of a poor haircut.
-- Or our early morning paperroutes when we were out in the neighborhood on our bicycles when everyone else was asleep.
-- Once Richard left the house when my father told him he couldn’t, and my father was so mad that he got in the car and drove over to Santa Rosa and Highland screaming the whole way. He dragged Richard into the car and was screaming and slapping him all the way home, much to the entertainment of all the other children in the neighborhood.
-- I was often surprised when Richard was overly protective of me as his younger brother. Once, while walking home from school, an older boy said something to me, and I just ignored it. But Richard went over to this boy and punched him more times than I could count, and the boy limped away, and I was shocked at his reaction. Yet, I gained a new respect for him.
But mostly, when I heard of his death, I was sad. He’d not be around anymore, even though we probably only talked once a month or so. The last time I saw him was at Jonny’s memorial. I realized that life is short and precious, and we don’t always get all the time we think we need, or deserve.
I remember many years ago when I felt bad, or had some problem, I could always call my parents and talk. I would talk for an hour or so with my mother, and it always made me feel better, and hopeful. Then both parents were gone, and I discovered that I could Still talk to them, which I do almost daily. I just don’t get the same responses anymore.
We could do the same with Richard too, and he will feel your support. Even if you don’t believe this, you can talk to him still and feel better yourself.
The following two days in Guatemala were particularly painful, not entirely but partly because of thinking about Richard. One night I spoke with a friend, Doug, and Doug told me many things, including that my pain wasn’t because of Richard’s pain, but because of my own fears about life, and that was very insightful. Doug told me that night that Richard would appear to me in my dreams. But Richard did not appear to me that night.
The following day, I was participating in our class on the meaning of the Mayan glyphs, and later did a meditation while light music was playing.
When I closed my eyes, I found myself on a large flat mountaintop, not unlike the top of one of the many pyramids we were visiting. Richard was there with me, smiling. He didn’t say anything, but we held hands and began to dance in a circle, slowly at first. We smiled and laughed as we held hands and twirled. We laughed, and Jonathan joined the circle, as we talked lightly about how much fun it was. Dolores joined, and my mother and father joined, smiling. My mother said, “Aren’t you going to invite us to dance?” and we all laughed and continued to dance in this circle.
It was such pure, child-like enjoyment, and others, seeing our delight, quickly joined. Helen joined the circle, and Tom and David and Gilbert quickly joined. Pam, Michael, and Jeffrey joined. Spouses and children joined and the circle got bigger and louder and we were singing and smiling and it was like a Michael Jackson “We are the World” songfest, except the music was more like the Jewish folk song Hava Nagilah. [If you don’t know this song, you should listen to it right now on YouTube to get a feel for my dream].
We went round and round and friends began to join – I saw the neighborhood friends join with Richard – Lee Keller, George Sotello, Babbit, Jim Billups, and I saw the many family friends join the dance – Paul Martinez and Carlos Frausto and the deFazios and people kept joining, friends of Richard and friends of his friends and the circle got larger and larger, and the music was like this celestial angelic music and we moved as one and we smiled and we felt a oneness that you just want to feel on earth but you rarely do.
The circle got larger and larger and as we danced and moved we all began to see that we were all one family, one organism, and we recognized that if I hurt you, I hurt myself, and that if I steal from you, I steal from me, and that if I cause pain to you, I cause pain to myself. We were all moving and there was no fear, no pride, no lies, no prejudice, no Democrats, no Republicans, and Richard in his bright green shirt, was smiling broadly.
As the circle continued and everyone felt their oneness with each other, and with Richard of course, I saw flashes of bright white light all around us – believe me, this would make a great music video!
While we danced, Richard was on the far side of the circle and he said, Don’t cry for me. I said, People are sad. Why not cry. He said, Don’t cry. Just live better. Live your life, and be good. Live better and respect each other and be good to each other. Do that in my memory.
My meditation ended.
So, in Richard’s name, I thank every one of you for being a part of this wonderful circle.