The journey to Scotland had a gentle cloak of magic over it. We all felt tremendous peace in our week there. Evan seemed to be with us in a very tangible way. We planned little and stayed open to the possibilities before us. Arriving early in the morning and driving west to Ballachulish for the night, we saw rainbow after rainbow that first day. Seriously. I think we saw 15 different rainbows if we saw one. Little did we know that this was not a typical occurrence.
11 October 2013 was almost perfect. I woke in Portree on the extraordinary Isle of Skye in the company of three comrades, Jude Blundell, Marcia Clark and Sloan Wainwright – all of whom had surprised me by wanting to come along. It was a clear and crisp autumn day.
This was the scatter day though no site was chosen in advance. After breakfast filled with eggs and oatmeal coupled with enough salmon to satisfy a grizzly bear, we drove to the Talisker Distillery in Carbost to proudly (and quite lightly) sample their wares in honor of Evan. Driving north, through stunningly beautiful vistas, we had a fabulous lunch at The Three Chimneys in Dunvegan. As the afternoon progressed, enroute to Dunvegan Castle across the water, I suddenly knew that we had arrived at the right spot and pulled to the side of the single-laned two-way road. Down an embankment, through sheep shit and muck, we came to the edge of Loch Erghallan, the place where a bit of Evan would repose.
Sloan brought some ashes of her husband George McTavey (also our family friend) and he was scattered nearby as well. I’m honored that Evan has the company. It was our intention to sing a most appropriate traditional song (below) as we left our loved ones to rest but we were deeply moved at that moment, all crying and the song barely squeaked out. It was a nearly perfect day, marred only for me by Evan not being there to share it. But I felt him with us and I know he would be proud of our conduct there- spontaneous and muddy trespass, slightly devil-may-care, filled with genuine emotion and camaraderie. Just another bit of letting go. Just another bit of being. Just love.
But I must offer a disclaimer. Lest you think that it was all tears, it was certainly not. We had a trip that Evan would have wanted. He would have been happy for me to have enjoyed myself so much. We were in terrific spirits, we laughed and sang and drove and ate and rested and explored and met lovely folk and walked and took in incredible beauty and history. And we drank a lot! All while celebrating Evan’ s memory with pride and cheer. It was a very good time. Here’ s to YOU!
- Susan Scofield
“Oh all the money that ere I spent, I spent it in good company.
And all the harm that ere I've done, alas it was to none but me.
And all I've done for want of wit, to memory now I can’ t recall.
So fill to me the parting glass.
Goodnight and joy be with you all.
Oh all the comrades that ere I’ve had, are sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts that ere I’ve had,
would wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise and you should not I‘'ll gently rise and I'll softly call, "Goodnight and joy be with you all!"
Goodnight and joy be with you all.”
When Susan told us she was going to Scotland in October and asked if any of us would considering joining her, we all didn’t even pause to check our calendars. Yes. Yes. Yes. We will walk beside you to bring Evan to another resting place. We are honored to be asked.
Now I think of Evan in the peat, the water, the grass, the air—and the Scotch-- of the Isle of Skye. We’ re made of carbon and starstuff and so we live on. He was the deepest, wisest, most joyous, most singular of old souls, and he will never be lost, never forgotten.
It was a day that still lives in me. A shot of Talisker in the morning. Sheep on the hills, blessing us with an occasional bleat. A car heading down a one track road with four friends crammed inside. A magical lunch with Les Ursulines, a toast to beautiful Urs. A heart-shaped crack in a shattered glass. We take off for our next destination, and there it is around a bend: the perfect cove that sings stop, it’s here to Susan.
It’s a marshy single-file walk down to the water’s edge. We hold each other and sing. And gently rise and softly call, good night and joy be with you all. If one of us loses our breath to a sob, the others rush in to supply the note. Susan releases a bit of Evan and we sprinkle heather and bless his journey.
We can’t go yet, our hearts are too full, so we ramble, exploring the cove separately and together. We find smooth stones, more heather, the skull of a baby lamb. We climb a rise and holler and jump, our shadows like wild crazy witches on the waving grass. A dance, a breath, a laugh, a sob, a gull’s cry, the smell of peat, the smell of water, the sound of wind.
Ever since Thanksgiving 2011, Evan and Ursula and the Scofields taught me everything I needed to know about courage, grace, devotion, right speech, right action. They showed me what happens when you kick the ass of life and hang on past all imagining. And laugh. And cry. And fight. And hold fast. And let go.
- Jude Blundell
The day moved in Skye time
A study in all shades of green and brown under a big blue sky with some fluffy
clouds and much welcome wind.
Susan trusted where to go.
We followed, finding our way on a lumpy sheep path down the short loamy moor.
To the place where water lapped up on the boggy shore
Stones and bones rest there
And now, Evan and George’s carbon, sprinkled at the edges and dumped in too.
We laughed and cried and sang the best we could
We even considered forgiving the past as we clung to each other.
All light and shadow.
All love and letting go.
- Sloan Wainwright
The journey began with a drive up and around Loch Lomond. We lost count at 13 rainbows and surely must have spotted at least 13 more. Four of us, four strong-willed women on a mission, strapped into our trusty Volvo, setting out on a journey of enormous significance, and we didn’t know the half of it. When we arrived at the hotel and told the innkeeper about the rainbows he was skeptical. “That never happens,” he said. “Ah. Evan,” we said, catching a glimpse of what lay ahead and through the rainbows. We laughed harder, cried more deeply, and fell in love with a land that embraced us with its beauty, and a bond of friendship that grew around us with “hoops of steel.” And Evan was with us. Reminding us that as we ‘splored, our tears were “making us smarter”, the bond of friendship was making us stronger, and Evan, he was making us wiser. “Find a nice bog and scatter me there. I’d like to be part of a good bottle of scotch.” Those were his instructions to Susan. “Learn “The Parting Glass”, we’ll sing it as we scatter.” Those were our instructions from Susan. We were on the Isle of Skye. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The day was as clear and spectacular as any day has ever been. It was unseasonably warm (thank you Evan). With Susan at the helm, we started into the day. A tour of the Talisker distillery, a drive through the highlands with a herd of sheep running alongside the car on the narrow road. We had an incredible lunch at The Three Chimneys in Dunvegan, complete with visits from both Urs and Evan (our wine was called Urseline, and when Susan left the table, her glass spontaneously burst into pieces leaving the shape of a heart resting on the stem), and the bog was all around us. We followed a narrow foot-path through the thick grass of the bog and stood shoulder to shoulder, our shadows stretching long before us, heading towards the sea. It was a bog and a pirate’s cove; it was a gentle and earthy spot filled with heather and beautiful stones. Susan started the song and Sloan, Jude and I did our best, offering up an occasional note through our tears. We stood for a long while in the heather on the hill thinking of a short life lived so gracefully and fully; of a young man whose strength and courage, whose passions and curiosity and love of family and friends know no boundary between this earth and the place beyond. We couldn’t see him, but we could feel him all around us.
- Marcia Clark