My close friend Lawrie had a misspent youth; in fact it was said to his face: ‘You’ve got a lot of teeth for a cheeky c*nt’, and it was true. By the time I met him he had mellowed a lot, but he still had his rocket launcher.
One of nature’s engineers, Lawrie had gone to school to eat his lunch, but he had learned elsewhere by asking himself questions like: ‘What happens if I put that in there?’ He also liked things that exploded. He had a quality collection of weapons. So it was fairly understandable that he would build himself a rocket launcher out of bits and pieces of crap from hardware stores and people’s left overs. He said he just wanted to see if he could do it, but I suspect his other motive was protecting his cannabis plantation. This was a serious piece of kit, I mean, a bring-down-a-helicopter piece of kit. Whenever Lawrie fired it, there was a Police investigation into the lights and bangs in the night sky. Lawrie leads a charmed life, that boy. I have seen the thing. It is made of plastic pipe and papier mache, would you believe, but its wiring is amazingly sophisticated.
Which brings me to Darren. Darren helped with the wiring. Darren was Lawrie’s mentor, and inspiration. Older, stocky, bearded, indestructible, a talented artist and a ferocious intellect. He was I guess a redneck environmentalist, a very local entity, who lived in a house he built himself in the deep countryside. I never met him. He died of cancer, and it was Lawrie’s great grief that he was not a part of that. Darren’s new partner had no time for Darren’s old crew. Lawrie was shut out.
Lawrie wanted to farewell Darren in his own way. He got the bros together and a party was held in the wilderness near Darren’s house. All day, while everyone else drank and smoked, Lawrie built the rockets, putting into each of the nine, the ashes of his friend and mentor. He had buried the hatchet with Darren’s partner. It took some negotiation and was good for both of them. I was invited to this party, and I knew no one except Lawrie himself. So I walked with the women down to the river. They talked about Darren. He was a man of influence. Everyone had a story, and it all went back to Darren’s wisdom, creativity and generosity. He was above all a teacher, of life and skills. The younger people all had learned from him a piece of practical wisdom, whether it be hunting or painting or the evils of Government intervention. He was truly missed. I say this without irony – we may never see his like again. Darren was a true rugged individualist and there is less and less space for such people.
That night, with friends and family gathered in the wilderness, Lawrie fired off all nine rockets, each containing Darren’s ashes. The sky lit up. There was even a sonic boom. Birds shrieked and flew. After the mighty sound receded, and the cheers died away, there was the sweetest silence. Lawrie then gave one of the briefest and most reverent eulogies I have heard. He said this: ‘Darren’s ashes will go into the river and the river will go into the sea’.
Led by a dream, literally, I have used my past personal and professional experiences to walk consciously and spiritually with death. These blog posts have been written over several years, as life has changed for me and my purpose has become clearer.