With the wake of my boat, I rang the channel bell for Andy Whitfield, the 39-year-old star of Spartacus: Blood and Sand who died that day of lymphoma. The clanging of the giant old bell was a message to the heavens of my thanks to Andy for the pleasure he brought me in his role as the famed gladiator, and of my loving thoughts to his wife and two small children.
A short while later, after I rounded the Race Point lighthouse, thinking of death, sad with the signs of summer’s end, and perplexed by my need to make changes in some of my relationships, I turned off the boat’s engine and stretched out in the sun. I hoped to be lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the boat.
I then started to think about an e-mail I had received that morning from a young mother who had decided to separate from her husband. She said that she wanted the same love that she saw in Ray’s and my relationship. She didn’t want to settle for less. She was lonely in her marriage and had decided to move on. I had replied to her, "You are making a courageous decision. Do your best to do it with great love, and without closing any doors. We all need the time and space to make decisions, and the opportunity to change our minds."
As I pondered the significance of my friend’s decision and its possible thematic connection to the death of the Welsh actor Whitfield, and the end of summer, and the volatility of friendships, a handsome whale surfaced next to the boat. The sound of it blowing out air, and the sight of its sleek black body moving gracefully through the water, pulled me into a different realm—a place of peace. I was no longer Brian in a boat with heavy things on my mind. I was in union with the small whale, and with the waves, the soaring seagulls, the warm sun, the pure sand, and the brilliant sky. For the briefest moment, I was a simple but important part of nature’s essence and wonder.
But the whale didn’t resurface as I hoped it would, and in time I was forced to come back to the other reality, and my thoughts of death—the end of life, the end of a relationship, the end of friendships, and the end of the season. All of it is about letting go, sometimes with a choice and sometimes with no choice. Sometimes it’s final and sometimes it’s not. But, it’s death. Read more…