When I learned of Dr. Holt's passing, I looked out the window in front of me and saw that, just as I feared, the world had changed in response to such a profound loss. I found it grotesque that morning skies which only hours earlier had dawned such a vivid blue could be debased so quickly by hovering fog that stole the glow from the earth. The snow blanketing the lake and the hills in front of my house that sparkled like glitter on cotton only a few moments earlier had turned gray, the earth wounded. I had to close the blinds tight against that crushing sight...of a world without Charlie.
He changed my life, taught me everything, stretched me and pulled me up to my tallest and grandest possibility...sometimes. Others he made me so mad I wanted to scream at him, but I never did; no one could. Probably the best looking man I have ever known, his looks were his blessing and his curse; his brain, his salvation. Even three weeks ago he was witty and wonderful, and stunning enough to take my breath, strong enough to grasp my husband's hand until it hurt. Charlie actually appeared robust, an insidious trick of the universe to convince me I would never be writing these words.
Last night, the first without my friend, the godfather to my children, I lay my head on the pillow and closed my eyes and screamed for someone...anyone...to wipe from my mind everything from the moment I learned that he had died. But there would be no turning back a clock wound in hell, no sip of Lethe's lovely forgetting.
Then it happened; subtle enough at first to tease it quickly turned pungent and fresh--the refulgent scent of Musk that to me always wore the face of Dr. Holt. And I heard him whisper--not with my ears but my heart, "Temple, knock it off. Don't cry for me. I had it all."
And he did, his two gorgeous daughters, Hunter and Hilary; and his wife Linda, whom he adored. They would actually sit in the same easy chair at night to watch movies or talk, enjoying each other completely, totally. Mark Twain said, "Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with." Linda was Charlie's fullest joy.
When I start to feel sad, knowing how it would infuriate him, I cull images from a garden of memories, well nurtured and carefully tended, our 1974 graduate seminar trip to Faulkner's home in Mississippi my favorite--still so vivid it can engender sensual images from nearly forty years ago. With tawny brown skin luminous against my chest-length, sun-whitened hair, a bizarre glowing negative incarnate against the midnight moon, I felt Faulkner's presence as I sat on his grave in Oxford, in the lightly misting haze of a languid late May evening with Dr. Holt, handsome as Kris Kristofferson and just as brilliant. And I will hold that memory in my heart forever, just one moment in the ten thousand Halcyon Days this man brought to my life...my mentor, my most special friend...my Dr. Holt...
But for those of us who must endure this cold earth without his light, we can only remember him, and that we will do with richness and gratitude, to honor the gift he was to our lives. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past..."
And for you, Charlie, every day will be a Halcyon Day...looking forward, sun on your back, and rowing in Eden...