For Celeste, the Lady of the Mountain

Have you ever started a book and wondered at its dedication? What did Sally do to deserve such attention? you might ask. Or, How exactly did Kurt influence the narrative I'm about to read?

My first book was for Justin, the dark-haired man. It had to be. Justin is the light of my life. Anyone with a 'light in their life' can say, however, that such love does not come easily. I view much of both The King's Sun and The King's Fear as a narrative of our decade-long relationship.

The King's Fear is for my friend Celeste. A member of the Mescalero Apache tribe, I worked with her for a couple of years out in New Mexico. Stubborn and hard-headed, she yelled at me every time I walked over to her desk with coffee on my breath. She got her revenge by drinking me under the table. Twice, because I was young and stupid. While opinionated, she was open enough to change her mind about sexuality. When she first learned I was gay, she asked me why I would make that choice. Over the course of many months and conversations, her views on the subject came more in line with reality...that sexuality is not a choice, but an intrinsic part of who one is.

Back in 2009, I was struggling with the decision to stay in New Mexico or return to Illinois. At one point, I had a dream, which I had summarized in a previous blog post:

Standing alone in a forest, I was staring at a house on the side of a hill. It was out of place and, while well maintained, there were no signs of outdoor activity. There was someone inside the house, though. I knew exactly who it was, though I had not yet met them (and would not until February 21, 2010). Suddenly, a coworker of mine, a Native American woman I considered a good friend, appeared next to me. I understood that she was there as a guide, and she said that it was okay to move forward. What was in the house was good. It was my path. It was my way. With that, I went inside.

It was a powerful dream, and it changed my life. I moved back to Illinois. I met Justin. So profound was it that I had to include it as a scene in The King's Sun, with Kitsune receiving guidance from the Lady of the Mountain.

My intention has always been to return to New Mexico one day. To see the mountains, forests, and deserts. Celeste often spoke about opening a campground on the reservation, and I promised to come and visit.

In July of 2016, I received word that Celeste had passed away the year before. The news stung. In writing The King's Sun, in envisioning Celeste as the Lady of the Mountain, she had become an eternal presence in my mind. Someone magical and forever. Though, by appearing to me in my own dream, by setting into a motion a series of events that brought me to where I am today, I suppose she truly is.

To Celeste, the Lady of the Mountain.