He let me hold him when he cried. He let me dance with him when he celebrated life. I felt so close to him yet I barely knew him. And, I loved him.
THIS IS A THREAD BETWEEN STEPHEN AND MUIZ.
Hi again Everyone,
I’m feeling I’d like to share with all y’all a bit from the last email communication thread that Stephen and I had, in early July 2016.
[ Stephen: ]
….. ( various comments about person X ) ….
I think you know I have urothelial cancer. It’s been a grinding ordeal since May of ’15. It’s not looking good. I’m down to my last possible treatment (or as far as I want to take it). I’m in an immunotherapy trial. If there’s improvement or no change by the end of August we continue, if not, we don’t. At which which point one of those new, small Porsche SUV’s might be just what the doctor ordered. It’s only equity.
My chances (to be taken with a boulder of salt) are 15% to 30%. I wouldn’t take it to Vegas, but it’s not insignificant.
I had no idea how much love and support I have in my life. It’s been a great lesson. But it still sucks. For some reason I have not allowed spirituality of any sort into my life with this, seems stupid but that’s the way it is. I’m going the route of upper echelon doctors at UCSF instead. Nice to have friends with connections in high places. But it doesn’t look like it matters that much at this point.
I’m not particularly depressed. That’s a luxury I can’t afford to indulge in right now. Have to be at the top of my game. All of my life is in order and I want for nothing on the material plane, except the Porsche 🙂
Your summer sounds wonderful! You do always seem to have great things planned!
[ Muiz: ]
Yeah, (person X). Definitely a piece of work, although I do have some compassion for (X’s pronoun). And not a lot of patience. I find it fascinating that each of us seems to have one or more people that we’re able to tolerate while most others can’t stand them.
Anyway, glad I was able to find the email with that statement you asked about.
I didn’t know that you had urothelial cancer, and I’m sorry to hear it, and the prognosis. And I agree, it does suck, on so many levels.
I was aware that you had something going on from the requests for assistance at home, a while ago, but I’ve been pretty wrapped up with details in my own life, and less engaged with the Billy community, despite my vocalized desire to increase opportunities for connection (oh dear).
I’m also very happy to hear that you have so much love and support in your life. And if I win the lottery, keep an eye out for that Porche SUV that might get left in your driveway :-).
As for not having allowed spirituality in, I not so sure about that. I feel it manifests in so many different ways, and that some of them may not look like the common definitions or understandings of it, because the outer wrappings — the regalia and paraphernalia — may be missing.
I’m definitely seeing major Buddhist-, Christian-, Sufi-, and Quaker-style Compassion manifesting in action through the support offered by loving friends, and by your being open to receiving it, and acknowledging it.
IMO it’s this practical kind of spirituality that ends up making a difference in Life, and is the proof or evidence of the authenticity of the spirituality — whether there is any formal “practice” or not.
Does the spirituality work to alleviate suffering and increase the feeling of being connected, loved, seen, and appreciated? If so, then it’s spiritual, if not … it may just be a different sort of distraction with a lofty name.
There are two Zen maxims that come to mind … about evaluating the effectiveness of spiritual understandings and awakenings versus mental concepts about spirituality and the Path.
“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
“Does it cook rice?”
Both pointing out that it doesn’t get more spiritual on a practical level than Service … feeding the hungry, and taking care of everyday business.
And to open the accommodation inside to allow oneself to be loved and taken care of when in need is the other half of the energy “circuit” for Service. If there’s no accommodation to receive, then the offering isn’t as effective on a practical level as it could be.
I do have a wealth of blessings in my life, and one of my ongoing challenges is to stay really present with active, moment to moment gratitude and thanksgiving for all of them, rather than falling into taking them for granted, and forgetting about them because I’m more focused on what I don’t have.
Know that I love you, and deeply appreciate our connection, and our mutual wicked sense of humor, even though we’ve hardly seen each other in years.
Big Billy Hugs
[ Stephen: ]
Thank you for your loving and insightful e-mail. Thank you for putting a perspective on my lifetime of wonderings with seemingly no purpose. This helps a whole lot!
On Monday, October 10, 2016 10:14 AM, “Muiz Brinkerhoff firstname.lastname@example.org [billenet]” wrote:
Stephen was a complicated man. He was a renaissance man. He was also incredibly sensitive. He shared his tent with me at a gathering at Camp and Sons in the early aughts. He was so incredibly sweet to me. It helped us forge a bond for the years the followed. He cared deeply about Saratoga Springs donating hundreds of hours to drawings, meetings and a design charrette. He left an imprint on Saratoga Springs in more ways than one.
From Jim Gilson:
Stephen O’Connell………My fellow Bostonian, mutual lover of Maine, hater of cold New England winters and colder New England shoulders, a wickedly understated banter Queen extraordinaire has finally reached a state of rest. Perhaps…. for the first time. One of the smartest sardonic wits I’ve ever known, I was always glad to have him as a friend….. and not an enemy! At times, I felt I frustrated him by just being me and living in my myopic view of the world, but I always felt honored and loved by him.
I will miss you, and never forget you, Stephen. Thank you for being one of my touchstone New Englanders in my aging adult life as I’ve tried to navigate the turbulent inner-waters between the societal-expectations and familial-confines of the old world of the northeast, and the new world of life-possibilities and political correctness of the west. You could say so much with just a few words of a quip, or……. even the movement of an eyebrow.
I will hold your smile and love in my heart the next time I take a hike out to East Point, Biddeford Pool, Maine my friend.
The earliest and most fun memory I have of Stephen was just before a July Billy gathering (2003-2004?). I had not DJ’d since my university days and the Billies wanted a 60’s dance theme that summer gathering . I said that I’d DJ for “A summer of Love” (I think it was called) , and someone put together a DJ system for me, and I mentioned to Stephen that I had few music CD’s of that 60’s era – Stephen said “Oh , stop by my little house on Liberty Street and I’ll loan you some” & I left his house with CD’s of Supremes , Ronettes, Aretha Franklin, Temptations, Beatles etc. A very generous man and I will miss him.
I loved Stephen’s style, his clothes, his car, how he decorated his home. One of the great storytellers, I learned about his life as he would lead me into an event about his childhood as if he were Mame talking about India. We’d go out for dinner on occasion. He was so much fun, and so impatient with so many things that made me crazy too. We had that.
Miss his laughter, his perspective on the world, his love of his friends, his lovely home and Digby, his gentle dog. Still doesn’t seem possible that I won’t pass him on the street again.
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