Yesterday, the mail brought something unexpected.
At the very end of January, an event is held each year in Elko, Nevada: the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. I have performed there 13 times (I think) since 1990. Cowboy and ranching friends come from all over the West each year, and it truly is a reunion of comfortable compadres of the "cowboy tribe."
This year celebrated the 25th anniversary. I was asked to come, but my health would never allow such a thing. I had to decline, suggest someone else in my place (which gladdened my heart to do so).
I didn't think I minded so much not going. It was okay. That is a part of my life that is gone, has ended. It's okay.
'Til yesterday. And I unfurled the large poster from the event, sent to me by the presenters. Signed by most of the performers there this year. Many with private and personal messages that caused tears to rain down upon the felt-pen-ink.
With towel in hand to daub at the watery blotches, my tears came profusely, I felt so loved. I read over and over how much I had been missed. The wall that I had built up between my feelings about not being able to do this performance art that had once been such a big part of my life, between those feelings and the outside world, came crumbling down in shambles of shattered stone and faulty mortar.
My nose ran and my eyes ran, and I choked up and read and read over and over all the notes written, and the faces of the ones who held the pen came into my remembrance and I imagined them leaning over the table, signing poster after poster (I've done this each year I went, as well. Posters are given to contributors to the event, supporters, etc) ad nauseum, and then came one with a note that it was to me, that (I suppose it said) my health was not so good.
It's featured on my office wall now...what a great painting by cowboy artist William Matthews, the bit on the vacquero horse is exactly like the one we have, attached to a bridle and hanging from a hook on one of our walls.
It meant alot. And still does.