Goodbye, David Enloe

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Today began with a shock. I received news that David Enloe had died.

Who, you may ask, is
David Enloe? He was one of those amazingly talented musicians for whom the stars just never aligned for real fame. And, as one of his fellow musicians said, perhaps that was what allowed him to live as long as he did--just a month shy of his 51st birthday. He succumbed to liver disease yesterday from a lifetime of alcohol abuse. If he'd had the trappings of fame, who knows how quickly he might have burned out?

He was a brilliant guitarist, performer, and songwriter to be sure. But to me, and so many others, David was a friend, and before he was my friend, he was the cute guy I had a crush on (as did so many others)...and more. We had an on-again, off-again affair back in the very early '80s (I was in my mid-20s--just before I moved to Japan for 2 years)  when he played lead guitar for the Fabulous Knobs, Raleigh, NC's hotter-than-hot band of the day. Yes, I must admit: I was a groupie, as was just about everyone else who discovered the Knobs back then.

I loved him. And, I dare say, he loved me. Not romantically exactly--more like two people who were connected at a soul level. It's hard to describe. I'm not sure either of us loved ourselves enough at that point for a real love--and that was not in the offing. I was still in my unavailable-men pattern, and he was, well, unavailable, living a kind of rock 'n' roll life where he was nowhere near ready to limit his options--and who could blame him?

Though I always looked forward to being with him, and would have loved to have had more time with him, I had no illusions about that, and no expectations of him. I was just happy to be with him when I could. Besides--I'm pretty sure I scared him, as is the case with anyone who isn't wanting to look clearly at themselves. My owl medicine, even though I hadn't yet claimed it, was in force. He intuitively knew that I was not a woman with whom you could hide from yourself. I have always insisted on being real and very, very present, which both attracted and repelled him. He was drawn to it and afraid of it at the same time.

Ours was never a relationship that could have been more than it was, but it was powerful in its limited way. It certainly made an impact on me. It was, if you're inclined to see things in those terms, definitely karmic.

As I moved away from that lifestyle, found my spiritual path, and embraced personal growth with a passion, we mostly lost touch. When we'd see each other from time to time in later years, though the kind of interest we'd once had had long since faded, we were like puppies with our tails wagging in excitement, such was our chemistry and connection.

I had not seen him or even heard news of him in at least a decade, when our mutual friend, and David's soul brother, Terry Anderson, and I reconnected via email in 2003. Terry must have immediately forwarded him my email as it wasn't even an hour later that a message from David popped into my inbox, much to my surprise and delight.

We exchanged a few messages to catch up, and he told me he was working as an educational consultant, and living in Minneapolis with his stepchild and wife, Susan, whom he credited with sainthood, and that he was very happy. I was truly glad to hear that, thinking he might have finally found something to ground him--to provide a healthy context for his life. And I think he had--it was just that alcoholism had the upper hand. At the time, he asked to read my book, but I was not ready to share it. It was not yet in print, not to mention, I didn't expect him to be able to relate to it, and put him off about it. Now I wish I had not made that judgment and that I had sent him a copy when it was ready. Ah, well. Hindsight.

We wrote back and forth a bit over the next year--I save pretty much all my messages (you never know when you'll wish you had them, like now), and just re-read all those, with tears streaming. When John Edwards ran for president in the 2004 election, we were both supporters, and emailed back and forth a few times about the campaign. (David and John Edwards had both grown up in Robbins, NC), but then dropped the ball on the correspondence. The next, and last time I heard from David was New Year's Eve, 2005, in what was clearly an alcohol-soaked reply to my Happy New Year message. It gave me an unsettled feeling.

And now, he's gone--a brilliant man whose inner demons overtook him. Would he have had a different fate if he had faced the hole in his soul and not tried to fill it with beer? Would things have been different if he had not been so afraid of himself? Of his own Light? I guess we'll never know. What I realize is that it's not for me to know or to judge. He lived the path he chose and that was, however, painful at the end, exactly right for him.

I'm sure I'll evolve my perspective on this, but right now, I'm just so, so sad. I love you, David.

Updated 11/29/07 If you read this entry when I first wrote it, you may have noticed that I have since added to it and changed it a bit. I have spent so much time in contemplation of that seminal period of my life, and of my friendship with David, it felt important to be really accurate with the feelings and impressions and the words I used to convey them.

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Margie Colbert said:

I've bought your book, love reading your blogs, (which make me feel like I almost know you) but haven't had the urge to add a comment before. In reading about the passing of your dear friend, though, I feel compelled to reach out to you as you come to grips with your loss. I have no words to offer, only my heartfelt support in spirit.
Much love,

Terry said:

I rode through your old neighborhood the other day in Raleigh and remembered you two were an item. I'm glad you recognized and appreciated his gift to the world. He was truly my brother.

Julia said:

Thanks, Margie. You are most kind.
It is always challenging to grasp it and adjust your inner landscape when someone you care about dies, but doubly so when it is someone who leaves so soon and with so much (and literally, this time) music left in him.
I truly appreciate you reaching out.

julia said:

Awwww, Terry. You were a true and loyal friend to him till the end--a brother, indeed. I know he loved you dearly.
Wow--the old neighborhood--631 Brighton Road. I have thought about that little white house a lot today since that was where David and I had most of our tete a tetes.
Do you remember the time you and he called me in the middle of the night and wanted to come over? And I, always a sucker for the two of you, got up and made food for you and stayed up with you till dawn?
I started out irritated but ended up having a blast. Both of you were blessed with the ability to charm your way into just about whatever you wanted!
I also remember when I moved into my condo, it was you and David and Jack that moved my furniture! What a crew!
Anyway, as sad as I've been about David's passing, I've enjoyed my memories today.
Thanks for stopping by and letting me know you did.

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This page contains a single entry by Julia published on November 28, 2007 5:42 PM.

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