|Vietnam Veterans Memorial Chapel|
|Friends and clouds gathering|
We celebrated the life of Steven Ryan Oliver on what would have been his birthday. Steve would have been the first to tell you he did not want a funeral. He was a Buddhist and a Vietnam Veteran. No doubt he faced the possibility of a death in a nameless jungle in a country we all did not know existed until our friends started vanishing into it. Just another missing in action. But he returned and became an integral part of the communities where he lived. The hole he has left in the community here, his last, has to be healed. It is for that community, his widow, Janet Graham Oliver, decided to have a ceremony. No not a funeral. Our generation does not do funerals really.
|Jackie, Sally, Danny and Julia Margaret|
|The valley and mountains we love|
We chose to call this a celebration of life. We chose the Vietnam Veterans Memorial because it is an Angel Fire landmark which was important to Steve and which we all of our generation connect to in our way. Such rituals, I have come to conclude, are not so much about the one not here. He has moved on. It is about those of us which live on. It is about the community and healing it. About giving us all a sense of having done our duty to them and to ourselves: whether it is building a monument, planting a tree, erecting a flag, holding a funeral, releasing a balloon or just sitting on a hill top and sharing stories and a few tears.
|The MIA flag was oddly still on a windy summit|
And as our celebration ended the gathering clouds became pouring rain and gave a hope of renewal to our parched valley which Steve loved so much.
|Vietnam Veterans Memorial and approaching storm|