Leo Geary Memorial, Mother's Day

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Leo face For Mother's Day, 2001, here is Caroling's memory of Leo's death day*. Watch for coincidences. It includes the car trip, phone call, seeing Leo, Bishop airport, others (the joke), and related items.

Car trip

Starting at 6 a.m., I drove east from the San Francisco bay area, heading across the central valley of California for the mountains. I had not seen my son Leo for a year and a half. A week ago, he had come from New Zealand to practice flying for the World Cup Paragliding competition in Owens Valley. I had been to Tuolumne Meadow in Yosemite, but had never gone beyond to Mono Lake and down highway 395 to Bishop, where I would meet him that night at 7:30. I was filled with excited anticipation of our reunion and the adventure of the unknown.

For starters, the wind was blowing hard. Filling the car up with gas in Livermore was a struggle. The clerk said this wind was very unusual. Coming up highway 120 into Yosemite Park, proceeding across the high mountains, suddenly a deer bounded from the left, followed by another that hit the front of my car with a dull, sad thud. In the rear view mirror, I saw legs up in the air to the right of the road and my heart sank. I was so sorry, but torn. Should I stop? What could I do about it? Would it turn into a long involvement? I was eager to get on with my trip, but must check the car -- no damage. Not a hair, much less blood. That was my first grief and source of remorse for the day.

Driving on, thrilled with the beauty around, suddenly a strong inner vision appeared of Leo in total bliss. His face was peaceful with a buoyant feeling of satisfaction, delight, acceptance, and joy. Such happiness. Then abruptly the serene expression gave way to sheer terror. Something was horribly wrong. Shocked awake out of the vision, I remembered a pact I made with Leo when he was a teenager. I promised not to worry about him. He said that he could not bear my worry and he wanted to be free. So I sent good vibes, best wishes, and unconditional love to the flyer.

At Tioga Pass, the aspens were blazing in autumnal gold showers of leaves. I wanted to get out by the lake, but I was afraid the wind would tear the door off the car. Never has the wind been so violent. Maybe Leo wouldn't be able to fly today. I drove in awe of the beautiful valley between two high mountain ranges. The next stop was the motel room I had reserved in Bishop. The wind was gone. There I called the competition phone number Leo had given me. On the recorder, I left a message for Leo that I was here. Then I went to sleep.

Phone Call

The phone is ringing and I answer. "Hello, your son is dead." "No, my son is not dead." "Yes, your son is dead." What? Someone will come. I could write each detail, deeply etched in memory by countless repetitions, in a vain attempt to grasp the reality of tragedy. The world had hit my dear. My dear had hit the earth. He had fallen from the sky. The competition managers come, hug me, and tell what happened, pointing at the mountain where it is happening. In their embrace, I remember the vision of bliss, Leo's ecstasy and agony. Was it a premonition of the accident?

They talk on cell phones. I'm lost. The fierce winds of the passage have entered my mind and permanently uprooted my emotions. I still cry. The managers go, saying they'll let me know. I call people. Finally I find out that Leo is at the mortuary. I walk across the street holding up both hands, defying traffic, willing I must not die. I'm the mother, I must see Leo.

Seeing Leo

There he is. Strong, handsome, mature at 31, more manly than I could imagine, and certainly not very dead. Almost everything about him seems alive, but he is cold. I want to accept Leo's death proudly, send him on with love as I knew he wanted. But threads of thought weave a complex fabric. Could his organs be saved for others? Are you sure that he won't wake up? Surely this is a joke! Is there a camera? Can I save his image? What can I do? Many times before, when I feared for his life, he turned out to be alive. Is this it? Is this really it, all there is to it?

I must give him a healing*. With hands and all my spiritual energies, I move the energy of his aura, still vibrantly alive. I stroke down the feet to earth connection. I stroke up the meridians and chakra shells, upwards to the crown, gathering the etheric fibers, contacting the essences. Standing behind his head, I feel great warmth, an electric field flux. I guide consciousness to the crown. I'm in touch with the mind of each cell. Everything that my son is, I know, and I affirm. Is this my warmth reflecting from his hard head? Is this healing for him or me? It grounds me and is the only way I can breathe again. It feels as if I had not breathed since I heard "dead". I do my best to give Leo all my love for his adventure of death, whatever it might be.

7:30 at night is the time we had agreed to meet. Leo was looking forward to taking a shower. Now I send a spiritual shower, feeling it keenly. So regular and fine, permeating, bathing all, transiting time and space. The conference managers want me to come meet the pilots who have gathered at the airport. I can't drive, they drive me.

Bishop airport

There I hear the story of Leo's last flight from those who shared the joys of the past week. These friends saw him fall, and were with him through the end. Each of these young people knew it might be them easily. Several had lost friends previously. One had just met Leo yesterday. It was Arjan, who promised to scatter some of Leo's ashes from a flight in the air. Seven years later Arjan* died in the same way as Leo, whump. Arjan's friend who called found my letter and the ashes were still unscattered. The friend promised to take on the task.

The pilots invite me to come eat with them, for a memorial dinner. But I can't drive. I go through Leo's belongings. I try to catch up, to connect with what is left of him. His notes, books, appointments, pictures, comb, all keep him a little bit alive. I can't stand him all dead.

While waiting for Leo's sister to come from New York, I must go up high to get as close as possible to cloudbase, where he exulted in flying like a bird. His last words on the phone yesterday, "fly like a bird" echoing, echo still. Up to where he fell, up to where pilots take off at Gunter launch, up to the level of the high Sierras. Driving to the last high place, the Ancient Bristlecone forest in the White mountains, I feel surrounded with a soft spongy turquoise aura.

Others and the joke

When Leo's sister arrives from NY, she hands me a gift*, a scarf exactly like the turquoise aura of my experience. Together we make the last visit to Leo. The morning is sunny and I leave the door open to the dark mortuary room. Leo is on the rolling table. In our quiet grief, suddenly someone else wanders in. He has a vagrant, aimless air, and makes a comic gesture of surprise, as if to say, "oops, where am I"? Looking at Leo, the guy starts to explain, " ... it happens to everyone ...". I'm offended and guide the intruder out, which he slightly resists. As I shut the door, Elizabeth is giggling and I catch it. We laugh hilariously. Leo would have loved it. I can hear him mimicking the funny guy. Nothing would stop Leo from enjoying a good joke; the more ironic, the better.

Leo is permanently woven into my laughs in this world, he laughs through me every day. Thanks, Leo, for that last coincidence. It reminds me of a time long ago, when we were reading the directions for a game, about what to do if you lose a piece. It started out "it happens to everyone..." Leo thought that was enormously funny and said it out loud in this simpering tragicomic, fake-sympathetic voice. "It happens to everyone"! He implied, who cares about everyone at this point? You can't play the game without the lost piece. You don't want to hear that failure is common, that it is part of the game. I think of it often when my game is stopped. In the case of losing Leo, there was no fix. No instructions to read. It happens to everyone.

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© 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007 Caroling. All rights reserved. Last modified: 2009-02-12