In Greek mythology, Mercury was the messenger of the gods, who brought the power of communication to people on Earth.
It was 12,053 days ago, on a Friday, that my son Roger J. Hobbs was born, as a Gemini sun sign in the house of Mercury. It was the year of the Dragon, exactly 33 years ago.
What a beautiful baby he was! From an early age, Roger was a child who played with words. He treasured his sister, Rachel, who readily played the part of the noble warrior, defending her slow-moving and gentle brother from all manner of goblins and monsters, real and imagined, on the playground and in the woods back of the house.
Growing up together, they romped in places near and far, where history, myth, and fantasy combined, from Walden Pond to the Fruitlands, and from the sandy streets of the Viareggio Carnivale to the mountain valleys surrounding the Oberammergau Passion Play.
Watching Roger grow up was nothing short of miraculous. His openness and vulnerability attracted friends with similar creative talents and imaginations. He enthralled audiences with his plays and stories and comedy and he performed the identity of HOBBS, replete with the costume of the hard-boiled writer guy. Later, as a professional writer, he leveraged his many talents to share his work with others, and built meaningful relationships with the people who loved his writing and cared for him.
Messenger to the gods, Mercury is closest to the sun.
A lot of things happened quickly on November 14, 2016, the date of his death. Three times a year, the planet Mercury appears to travel backward across the sky, creating confusion and frustration for many. In the months before his death, it seemed to us that Roger had abruptly switched directions and was starting to move in reverse. Something was wrong but we had only a vague sense of the problem. Had the stresses of his meteoric career been too much for him? Was he plagued by self-doubt and insecurity? Was he experiencing clinical depression? Had the recent news about the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States created a triggering crisis as he faced the rapid shift in our country’s values and sense of direction?
Clever wit and out-of-the-box thinking would not be enough to rescue Roger. The power of opiods was too great. Roger died of a drug overdose, taking his last breaths at Edgefield Hotel in 2016. We had suddenly become members of a terrible club, which includes more than 350,000 families who lost members of their family to drug overdose in the past 5 years.
Not Knowing is Most Intimate
Not knowing is most intimate, as the Zen masters remind us. I repeat the phrase to myself daily. I don’t really know what it means. But “not knowing” has become something I am getting comfortable with, as the inner essence of my experience. I don’t know how or why he took that very first little white pill. I don’t know what hurt – was it body, mind or heart? I don’t know about the secrets he kept as addiction crept into his life. I don’t know about those last precious moments of his life, as his breath slowed far down.
I don’t even know how much I had taken his living for granted, even up to the moment when the police arrived at our house to inform us of his death.
Yet the exquisite intimacy of “not knowing” has opened me up to what matters most, to what was there all along: the eternal love of a parent for a child. All through life and far beyond it, this love is all that matters.
As I face the 5th anniversary of life without my dear son, my grief is tempered and even. I am now accustomed to the empty space where he lives in my heart. The agonizing pain of grief is of the past and what remains is sublime. My memories of Roger have woven themselves deep into the fabric of my being and every day I feel gratitude to have had him in my life. I am honored to have experienced Roger’s voice, his humor, and his stories– even if only for 28 years. His kind and loving heart cannot be forgotten.
But I miss him so much, my Ghostman.