Requiem for Isis

It seems a strange way to honor my friend Isis—cleaning the house, because she was arguably a worse housekeeper even than I am, if such a thing is possible.  But that’s the thing about death, especially when it comes suddenly and unexpectedly.  It’s not just the sorrow and the grief, but that it seems to suddenly remove the ground from beneath your feet, leaving you hanging in a kind of vertigo, like those cartoons where the characters run off a cliff and hang in the air, legs pumping, for a long, long minute before they fall.  You need something to ground you, something simple and achievable, like doing the dishes and sweeping the floor.

Isis was my friend since we were both in high school, when she was Becky and I was Mimi.  For some reason, when I think of her in those days I always see her in a tree, hanging out in the branches on the grounds of our high school.  We were fifteen.  I had a pack of Tarot cards and a book I’d gotten at henna-haired Mrs. Larsen’s Bookstore down on Hollywood Boulevard.  Isis had a pack of cards, too.  No one ever taught us to read them—we just did, and then we got ourselves a booth at the Renaissance Faire.  It was a camping tent, really, hung with some filmy cloth, and I made myself a princess dress with a high waist out of iridescent gauze, and we told fortunes for days, and hung out with Witches and beadmakers and potters.  Isis was smart and funny and cynical and fearless, a round, bossy girl with milk chocolate skin and a huge smile—a smile that always made you think she knew some

Isis went off to college at Antioch and I somehow ended up stuck in LA, going to UCLA and living in a frat house turned commune, in one big room with nine people.  My boyfriend and I shared the closet together.  Isis came to visit once; I could tell she didn’t approve of my lifestyle, which really had little about it to approve of.  We didn’t talk for a long time, but finally reconnected, I think, at our High School 10th class reunion.  By then I had cleaned up my act, ditched the drugs and the boyfriend and actually had a book scheduled to be published.  I had also become Starhawk, and she had become Isis.  We’d each found our way to the Goddess, on separate paths, but we became friends again.  I remember walks in the park when her daughter Morgan was a baby, with our big dog Arnold washing Morgan’s face with his tongue as she sat in her stroller.  The baby didn’t seem to mind, and neither did Isis.  Isis came to Witch camp–the first we ever did.  Morgan was around four, then, and we went climbing on the rocks to look at the tide pools.  “Hold my hand, and you won’t fall,” Morgan told me.

Isis own mother died that summer, and she got the news at camp.  I remember her heartfelt grief, I see her crying with a wail that was like the essence of mourning.  And then she found solace with a hot naturopath, making the tent shake as she reconnected to the life force.  Isis didn’t hold back—neither her grief nor her love of life.

One thing I loved about Isis is that she never hesitated to tell me the truth.  She was one of the few people I let read my novels in draft, and I knew I could count on her to let me know if I went off track.  Johanna, in Walking to Mercury, is not Isis—that is, the facts of her relationship to Maya are not the facts of our lives.  But something of the emotional truth is there.  Once Isis had a draft of the book in her car, and her lover read it and got furious at her.

“You never told me that you and Starhawk were lovers!”

“We weren’t!”

“Don’t lie!  This is you!  You can’t tell me it isn’t you!”

I took that as a compliment.  We weren’t lovers, in the physical sense, but Isis is one of the people I dearly love.  I learned so much from her.  I learned to walk down the street and look people in the eye and smile and say, “How ‘ya doin?”  I learned how someone could face years of illness and pain with optimism and grace, and still take so much pleasure in life, even as her life grew more restricted.  She’s one of the people in my life who made me who I am.

I’m looking at one of her last Facebook Posts:

“I found out today that I’m happy.  No matter what happens, under it all, I’m just happy.  How great is that?!!!!”

Be happy, Isis, even as we are sad, so sad that you are no longer here to laugh with and scold us and give us that look.  Go shed that body of pain, and get ready for the next adventure.

Weaver, weaver, weave her thread

Whole and strong into your web.

Healer, healer heal her pain,

In love may she return again.

19 comments to Requiem for Isis

  • Peace to you as you grieve.

  • You have remembered her well, I feel know her a bit in some of my girlfriends. So sorry for your loss, the wheel is turning even now!<3

  • Mosrael

    Thank you for this. It’s beautifully true. Breath deep. Seek peace.

  • Anna

    So beautiful. Thank you.

  • Colleen

    So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing.

  • Beautiful, heartfelt, soulful remembering.

  • Lisa Moo

    Thank you so much for sharing this, my heart is sad for you and happy at the same time you have such a dear friend to remember. <3

  • laurie stolmaker

    She and I crossed paths for a brief time in Ukiah, where she took superb care of my post car accident muscles. I do remember that smile, how she beamed it at me when I arrived or when we saw each other in town. She was one of my first openly Goddess loving friends, long before I came to know Her. Blessed be!

  • Feeling this very deeply today.
    Before reading it, I have been having deep grief moving through me and reaching out to my Bubby’s spirit gone already 5 months.
    I think and feel to myself, what is remembered lives every time I grieve and laugh and laugh and grieve the woman who passes…
    Love to you Starhawk.
    and love to the spirit of Isis who sits in the trees with Johanna and speaks now with Maya through the muses to your work…

  • Betsy

    Thank you for sharing your friend with us. Blessed be.

  • Starhawk (Mimi)
    I met you back in 1967 when my sister introduced us. I remember sitting in
    your bedroom in West L.A, and it was my first time listening to the DOORS
    LP on your Hi Fi… Oh, times were good then.. Becky was looking forward to getting out of our house in South Central and going off to Antioch.

    I want to thank you for such a loving tribute to my sister. I will miss her terribly, she was a wonderful mentor and friend .. to say nothing about how much FUN it was to have a big sister like her.

    I’ll see you on May 6th..

    Much Love pat t 🙂

  • Annie

    Love goes on. Thank you for letting her enter our hearts, too. And thank you for sharing love.

  • bex

    Your post warms my heart; it gives me a little more of Isis to savor. I knew her for 15-18 years but the nature of our friendship seemed to be in-contact a little then not for months or a year. I have been a bead-freak; I realized it was time to pare down arts/crafts supplies. When it came to beads I thought: Isis! She told me of “putting things out to the universe.” She realized one night she wanted/needed beads. The next night she got my middle-of-the-night text asking if she wanted my bead-stash. It’s a gift that we were back in touch the last weeks of her life. Isis always told me things I would never have known or heard otherwise, and always the truth! I didn’t realize how much I loved her until she was gone. I am sad that Isis will not be able to help with your book, Starhawk.

  • hi starhawk… thank you for the beautiful ceremony honoring “my big sistah becky!!’ isis was truly “my-sis” and the chant we did releasing her spirit in flight was really moving. safe travels and love to you… pat t 🙂

  • moonshine

    I feel your pain distinctly yet there is such depth of peace in your soul… you will see her again for even death does not part the kindred spirits. You know it well. =)


  • Marti

    I don’t know exactly why I was brought to this page today. I met Isis in 1961 we were seat mates in Home Economics. It’s hard to believe our friendship spanned over 50 years. We rarely lived in the same city after high school, But we remained close to each other in our hearts and souls. I feel her presence strongly. Sometimes I feel like she’s just hanging out with me and giving me her wisdom as I go through the day. I took an amazing picture of Isis at one of the fairs. It captured everything about her. It’s the way I like to remember her. We talked about two weeks before she died. We had been exchanging grand kid pictures by email. Then suddenly, a very bright light went out in the universe. She had a very special connection to my Dad. I’d like to think they are discussing art and philosophy where ever they are.
    Hugs to you.

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