― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
No long posts today. No points to be made. I just want to take a moment to say goodnight---no, not goodbye, as this person was just too vital to ever admit he's really just...gone---to a precious friend who lost his long battle with cancer on Tuesday.
Petit Garcon? Somewhere, in the course of conversations, I addressed him as Petit Garcon (little boy) and it became my name for him. And, good friend that he was, he let me call him that.
Patric was a beautiful man. An author, an artist. One of the most brilliant minds I've ever known.
He was a mentor to so many authors, this gal included.
What touched me most about Patric was the journey through his illness. Watching a man reconcile himself to the inevitable, witnessing his growth as he faced the challenge, and admiring his peace about what he knew was going to come. If Patric was afraid, he never let on.
There will be many tributes to him, so I'll not elaborate on my own. What I want to do, though, is leave you with a glimpse of HIM. Something to share, something that paints a better portrait of him that my words ever could.
Once, he and I discussed fireflies. Yes, fireflies. He'd authored a story in an anthology in which fireflies were a horrific entity (it was a horror anthology, after all..lol). But, on the subject of fireflies---to show the tender, sensitive side of himself---he sent me this little snippet once. And I don't figure he'd mind my sharing it.
So...in my bidding goodnight to my Petit Garcon, my dear friend, let me share this beautiful insight into his mind....
When he was a kid, he and his friends spend endless summer nights lurking beneath these same trees playing tag and munching fruit, spitting seeds at each other and laughing. His real father had been alive then. Alive long enough to teach him how to catch and hold the fireflies that even now glittered amidst the tall grass and dark red leaves.
He snatched one out of the air, almost without thought and stared at it cupped between his shaking hands.
“Don’t squeeze too hard, Danny. Cup your hands, like this.” Raymond Ellison demonstrated, allowing his son to peer at the softly glowing insect trapped within the cage of his hands. Faint green light spilled between his fingers. “You try it.”
Danny swept his hands through the tall grass and giggled as his efforts produced not one but two ‘lightning bugs’.
“I got two!” He crowed, holding up his prize.
“You sure did.” His father said, approving. “Look at them for a while, then let them go, Ok?”
“Why?” Danny asked, his small round face clouding with confusion. “Why can’t I keep them?”
“Because they will die if you do.” Raymond said, opening his own hands. The firefly flexed its wings experimentally. “They can’t live in captivity.” He said as the inset flew away, stitching indignant green fire into the warm summer night. He pulled his son onto his lap.
“There are some things in this world that cannot be caged.” Raymond said as he looked at the green light flickering in Danny’s hands. “See how they flash on and off like that? It means they are afraid.”
Danny studied his lightning bugs for a moment, then looked up into the trees. Lazy green light flickered in long, sweeping strokes. He looked at his bugs again, watching the stuttered, abortive light and thought he understood.
“If they are afraid for too long, their own fear will kill them, son. You don’t want that, do you?”
Danny hesitated. He opened his hands doubtfully and watched as the flickers lengthened and brightened. He tossed his bugs into the air and turned to his father. His doubt vanished in the bright gleam of his father’s smile.
“Good boy!” Raymond said and Danny grinned, glowing like a firefly himself in the light of his father’s pride.