Death Comes for Us All

Monday, I heard about the death of Laura. She was part of my training coven in New Hope with the Circle of the Ancient Path. I hadn’t seen her in many years but saw one of the active coven members post the announcement and obituary. Laura was in Long Island and would travel all the fucking way to New Hope, Pennsylvania because the Mystickal Tymes community is so special.

laura on the floor studying

Today, my heart was crushed by an unexpected King Kong sized fist when I saw one of the Who Wants to be a Superhero? fan club members post of the death of Caith “Sparrow” Donovan. It was superheroes that brought us into each other’s lives, but it was being pagan that got us close enough to call each other family.

Caith holding Cardiac Arrest

Caith’s health always sucked and got terrible this year. He couldn’t walk or stand well. Thankfully, I saw that he eventually got a walker then a scooter. He had a cousin who could help him out when he moved near them, but he felt like a burden because they were part of a married couple with kids and “lives” as he put it in a Facebook Live video.

No matter what, no matter how bad Caith’s situation was, he would always send me an email before Yule and tell me that he was sending me presents. I would say that it wasn’t necessary. I knew his circumstances. There were years when I was in the same boat (before crawling back home to my parents so I didn’t die in five feet of Pittsburgh snow). He always felt alone and isolated. He was like me when it came to leaving the house usually opting to be an at-home hermit.

Each package would have boxes of delicious chocolates—plain and mint. They were silky and difficult to ration. It was hard not to binge on them.

candles in basket

In 2015, I was surprised by a box filled with incredible homemade candles made by my dear friend Neliza Drew who was commissioned by Caith to send me this unbelievable gift.

One year he sent me a water flask with a tooled leather holster that he got from a Renaissance Faire and never used. He said he bought it because it was cool, but felt bad that he never had a purpose for it. I used it.

I sent him a CD of a personalized meditation. He said he’d never had any success with meditating before but was willing to try again. He sent me a DVD of an indie movie that he had some part in creating. More recently, I sent him one of my resin creations with animal parts in it from an owl pellet dissection and a bottle of the black walnut ink I brewed myself.

resin owl pellet gem

I swear we have passed each other the same $20-60 in cash back and forth for years.

Last year, along with the chocolates, he asked if there was anything I needed. After all these years, I knew it was pointless telling him to save his money because he needed it. He needed a better place to live that was affordable and accessible. The only thing I could think of that I wanted to upgrade was a safety orange vest for being in the woods with Gus. I had one from my father but it’s a plain nylon vest without pockets. I had checked two stores myself for what I was looking for and struck out. Amazon had a good one with tons of pockets. Caith sent it to me and it gets used almost every day from late fall to end of winter. I said I’d be an orange Elmer Fudd. He told me if being an orange Elmer Fudd kept me from getting shot, it was worth it.

Gus and Amber

As things got desperate for him, I convinced Caith to try a GoFundMe. He needed the help. He wasn’t too egotistical to ask for help, but he preferred putting it out there into the universe instead of directly “bothering” people. Although some incredibly generous person sent a thousand dollars, he didn’t reach the goal of four thousand intended to get out of debt from a variety of obligations like back child support to old student loans of a degree he never got to finish. However, he made the difficult choice to flee his apartment after his roommate got violent. Rent, medical bills, just basic life in the US kept getting more demanding and harder.

I can’t imagine how it would have been, if three years ago there was student loan forgiveness. Maybe Caith could have used that money to get his preferred emergency room or doctors sooner.

He wrote:

My school debt is now fully paid. After 30+ years of this monkey on my back it is gone. It would not have happened without all of you. I know the phrase ‘words are not enough’ is used a lot to describe moments like this, but truly, the full breadth of my gratitude would require more than an e-mail.

All of this said, we are all facing a much larger crisis right now than some old money debts. I wish all of you security and safety through these times, and a brighter tomorrow at the other end.

I was always (and still am) willing to send people free copies of my books if they can’t afford them. Yet, I find that my friends with the least in their bank accounts are the first to buy copies and show their support. That’s the kind of person Caith was.

It feels like shitstorm of death in my circles began in January when Eric Lee died. One of our elders, High Priests from the Mystickal Tymes shop and COTAP.

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