When you’re really trying to describe somebody, facts are only part of the story. What can I say about my friend Daviea?
I’ll start here, and it’s probably a safe statement: you’ve never met anyone exactly like her. She is a true artist (she can’t help it!) by which I mean to say one driven by a perpetual curiosity that knows no bounds, compelling her to explore, and a relentless creativity driving her to express, with paints and words and most recently and publicly, mosaic tile.
Daviea’s most recent huge accomplishment was the completion of two epic glass mosaic pieces installed in the Pittsburgh airport, depicting her vision of her hometown as it once was, and is now. Here is one of the panels:
(Like many of the book’s short chapters, this one starts off with a line from Scott’s journal. Scott was a poet, author, and playwright. But that is another story!)
A Little Help From My Friends
…and a little sprite from Pittsburgh flies in on gossamer wings to light gently
on our psyches and soothes and calms and sparkles outward raining on
as with love and wonder…
In no way can my story be told without telling that of my soul mate Daviea Serbin Davis, as improbable as that account might be. Daviea is my friend, my playmate, my fellow spiritual seeker, my soul mate and soul sister. She now lives in Pittsburgh and I Miami, but there is no distance between our hearts. We met standing in line for a concert one summer evening in 1986 in Gainesville, Florida, when we were both so very much younger. Our connection was electric and immediate. Early into our first conversation, she smiled and looked into my eyes as she asked “You know how we teach our kids stories like Noah’s Ark, Bible stories? What do you think our descendants will be teaching their children?” Quite naturally, I responded “Well, a long time ago the Greeks believed in the Greek Gods, and now we just call them myths. So it doesn’t matter what they believe, as long as they believe in something.” And so began our ongoing dialogue, a conversation of the heart.
As I eventually returned to Miami and started practicing law, and Daviea to her native Pittsburgh with her new husband to pursue the path of motherhood and random creativity, we kept in close touch over the years with letters, telephone calls, and visits. From her poetic perspective, she continued to offer me solid, loving advice during times of crisis, and to celebrate with me the joyous moments. In November of 1990, Daviea joined Scott and me in Florida for a sunny day on the beach. While I painted a canvas there, toes in the sand, Scott and Daviea went for a long walk along the shore, sharing a conversation of the heart. She told me years later that Scott had confided in her, their feet wet in the surf, “You know, Daviea, sometimes I think I love Paul too much.” Had he not taken the ultimate risk, that of trusting his heart to another? Even at that moment, as Daviea recalls, time seemed to stand still. Only the golden summer light, the surf, laden words spoken, and one moment frozen in eternity.
When I called Daviea in Pittsburgh the day after Scott’s death, crying “I’ve lost my baby,” my pain was hers and she grieved with me from the bottom of her heart. She had only days before given birth to her third child, Alie Rain, and was unable to fly down for the planned memorial gathering. But she was there for me, as a true friend, helping me shoulder a burden I could not carry alone. As usual, she offered me her unique perspective, encouraging me to go on and to keep on seeking to reclaim my shattered balance. We spoke together of the spiritual yearnings I was beginning to feel, and she encouraged me to keep myself open. That, she seemed to think, was my best hope at finding salvation. What could I do but listen to my heart? And where else was I to go?
On a Sunday evening, two weeks after Scott’s passing, Daviea mentioned in the course of our conversation that she had an appointment the next day to see a woman she referred to as her psychic, Dee Miller. Dee, she explained, was a kindly older woman who lived there in Pittsburgh, who was amazingly gifted in her ability to tune in to the other side and to communicate with the departed. “She’s the real thing,” Daviea insisted. “It’s not like there’s crystal balls or any other such nonsense. She’s just this nice old woman with too much henna in her hair, sitting there in her house. But she’s able to see.”
Daviea, some of her sisters, and several friends had consulted with Dee on a regular basis over the years and been astounded by the accuracy of her perception. Daviea mentioned that night, for example, that one of her sisters had lost her fiancee in an automobile accident, and carried a great deal of anger toward him as a result of her perceived abandonment. The morning of her appointment with Dee, s
he had stripped off a bracelet he’d given her and disgustedly tossed it into the back of a bedroom drawer. During the session Dee had taken her aback, saying “You know, he’s saying he’s really not happy that you threw the jewelry in the drawer this morning.” Dee was not, Daviea assured me, the kind of phony that gives the profession a bad name. “She’s really got the gift, I mean she’s very powerful,” she explained, “but she only uses it for the right reasons.”
My mind began busily sorting through the possible implications, and despite an initial hesitation and skepticism something deep within me quickly and eagerly said “Yes!” I had very little experience with “psychics,” having met with only one nearly a decade before at the insistence of a friend, and prior to Scott’s death that had been just fine with me. Life seemed to keep on busily unfolding all by itself, and although I held no judgment on the issue I saw little point in seeking out such advice for myself. I also realized that there were plenty of phonies out there, and could imagine few acts lower or more loathsome than exploiting the hopes, wishes, and dreams of the desperate for personal gain.
But everything was different now. I knew Scott was dead, yet also felt a strengthening sense that he was not gone. I longed for nothing more than the communication that was conceivably now so important to the both of us, and heard Daviea’s words with a new openness.
“I’ll tell you what,” she offered. “Why don’t I check in with Dee and see how Scott’s doing when I see her tomorrow?” “That would be great,” I responded, my heart stirring with excitement. “Please do.” Meanwhile, I was thinking “Could this be for real? That story sure sounded convincing to me, but I really don’t know. And if she is the real thing, do I really want to know what she has to say? What kind of door might I be opening here? And what if Scott is really gone?” My mind raced with questions and stirred with new possibilities.
“Oh well,” I figured, “I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.”