Evie’s Death

I haven’t posted anything for a week because Evie Spodnik, a dear friend and fellow circle dancer, was killed in a horrific and shocking way. For more details
For more information about Evie see Leah Carey’s blog and the next two posts which are also about Evie.

Last Wednesday, at Memoir Class, I finally had the support and the time to write down my thoughts.  Evie brought Barry to dance several times and he seemed nice, pretty mellow, was OK with the dances.  Looking back I see that there was a sort of “flatness” to him, he wasn’t really engaged with things.  Wednesday, June 29, we heard that Evie had been injured and Barry too, and they were in critical condition in Boston hospitals.  The plural of hospital gave us the first inkling that the fire was not just an accident.  Rumors were flying around, the Police were investigating.

A small group of us gathered at Linda Frank’s house.  She’s a Sufi and led a Sufi healing ceremony.  We shared food and danced on her deck.  The dances were from a CD of “mountain dances” that Mary Ellen brought.  The climb up Dicky Mountain and dancing on top was an annual ritual that Evie was usually part of. It was really good to gather with friends and to do something that felt like we were really helping Evie.

I had been praying for Evie, mostly asking for the “best outcome” and “thy will be done.”  Knowing how incredibly painful burns are, and how hard it would be to recover from such major damage, I really wasn’t sure if I wanted her to live or die.

One of the rumors was that Barry had thrown gasoline on Evie.  Mary Ellen said that she and Bill had been at a gathering in Canada, and Evie and Barry were arguing.  It was beginning to sound like she broke up with him and he retaliated with murder & suicide.

The last time Evie came to dance at Neskaya, she said that Barry had applied for a job in Whitefield and she was hoping that they could move back to the Franconia area.  I told her I’d be delighted.  It was almost the last thing I said to her.  Kayla found out Friday night that Evie had died, and the Police were now saying if Barry survived, he would be charged with 1st degree murder.  Kayla called me early Saturday to let me know.  I went over to Neskaya to help her put together a message to the Circle Dance community that we were hosting a gathering on Sunday, starting at 4PM.

The gathering at Neskaya totally surpassed my expectation of what a grieving community could do.  At least 50 people gathered, bringing food, poems, flowers and photographs.  We started about 4PM with a dance and a circle of names.  We went on to share dances, stories about Evie, poems and tributes, and more dances.  Someone would say “Let’s do Medicine Wheel” and we’d do it.  Someone would say “I have a poem to read.”  We went on until 8:30 sharing dances, stories, food, pictures, and more dances.  We hadn’t organized it, just called the group together into sacred space.  The event unfolded very organically and beautifully.  Evie’s daughter, who knew how much Circle Dancing meant to Evie, was there and told us about Evie’s last hours.  She had passed away very peacefully.

As people were starting to leave, I went to the West door.  I could see the crescent moon through the window, and because the little white lights hanging on the balcony were reflected in the glass, it looked like the moon was hanging from a starry necklace.  Many of us went out to look at the moon, and as we stood there, fireworks began.  They were somewhere out the Easton Road, probably at the Franconia Inn, and they burst in the space between the trees and the moon.  It reminded me of Leah’s story about how much Evie enjoyed fireworks.

At the end I felt totally satisfied.  What we had done together had met my need to grieve, to celebrate Evie, to come to terms with the loss of her, to be with people who knew and loved her.  I had many chances to cry, usually when greeting someone I hadn’t seen for a while.  We’d hug and then one or the other or both would burst into tears.  We danced Evie’s favorite dances, joyful dances, prayerful dances, and a dance called “The Crossing” which we have done for everyone we care about who has died.

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