One less star in the sky
There were only two people present when Joe and I got married. One of them was Steve Carter.
You surely heard of “the Marin hiker” or “renowned therapist” or “tantra teacher” so viciously murdered on Oct. 5. These terms fall woefully short of someone I can scarcely capture with mere words — and words are my living.
But I’ll try.
Steve Carter was a coach. Role model. Gentle guru. The embodiment of pure love and joy. He was the yang to his beloved wife’s yin, for Lokita is all these things too. Combined, this loving, perfectly balanced pair radiated bliss and made their living by showing other couples how to invite that same sensual, intimate energy into their relationships.
To hear Steve summarized as a “Tantra teacher” grates on me a bit, because those unfamiliar with Tantra regress into pre-pubescent giggles and snorts, imagining all sorts of illicit sexual gymnastics, and they’re so far off base, I’d laugh out loud but I’m just too heartbroken to bother.
Allow me to disabuse you of your preconceived, erroneous notions of Tantra.
Amazing sex is not the point. Amazing sex is the by-product, naturally flowing from the core of Tantra: true intimacy — the dissolving of fears, insecurities and inhibition between two people; the deep, spiritual connection to your partner… the discovery of the pure human soul behind those eyes in that face you see every day… and suddenly meet for the first time. Our bodies become conduits to a place of shared, pure spirit… love, joy and bliss.
Steve and Lokita guided groups of couples toward finding this intimate place. Couples at all stages, too, from “just met” to “fearing divorce.” Bad relationships became better, good relationships became great, and great relationships went stellar. There was a magical collective symbiosis in their workshops — total strangers became loving family, parting to the winds afterwards, but forever connected by a thread to a shared life-altering experience.
When Joe and I finally decided to legally share the same last name, we talked very thoroughly about how it would happen. Both second-timers and having already had the Big Wedding Day that ultimately didn’t play out as we’d imagined, we wanted a ceremony that reflected our desires for our new life together.
We stripped away all the trimmings, all the fluff and fuss, and wanted something deeply meaningful that captured our special love. Almost simultaneously, we concluded “Harbin Hot Springs.” I blurted out that having Steve and Lokita officiate would be the ultimate joy, never even imagining that it was possible. Imagine my giddy surprise, when I emailed Lokita and she said yes.
On May 1 (Beltane), 2009, Joe and I were expecting a simple, stripped-down handfasting ceremony. When we entered the Harbin temple, right underneath its peak, Lokita had made a circle of pink rose petals into which we all entered together, and presented me with a bouquet of white hydrangeas and pink roses. Her loving, unexpected special touches just melted my heart. Before our vows, Steve added his own loving, guiding words, and my melting heart overflowed. With a braided silk cord, it was Steve who literally “tied the knot” of our marriage, which was born in the presence of our beloved role models for a blissful life together.
That night, Steve and Lokita were, serendipitously, offering a free “Timeless Loving” workshop in the temple, so we made it our own little secret wedding reception. At the end, however, Steve announced our marriage, and as he did at the end of every workshop, sitting in a circle, he asked everyone to rub their palms together until they’re hot with love, then push them out to us, beaming love toward us, through us, into us… radiating love.
That’s what Steve and Lokita are all about: radiating love. Their eyes sparkle and dance with ecstatic light, almost otherworldly blissful, and they generously share their keys to loving intimacy with others, and have been for so long. So, when I’d heard they were retiring to Costa Rica, I was bummed, because I’d realized we’d waited too long to take another of their workshops (when will I learn the “waited too long” lesson?), but wished them joy. They earned it. They deserved it.
Then came the crushing news of Lokita’s advanced, aggressive breast cancer, and their return to California for her treatment.
But, at least she’d have Harbin to soothe her in the midst of her discomfort!
But, Lokita had the most perfect, well-equipped partner in the universe at her side to support her!
And then three soulless monsters ripped Steve’s life away on a hiking trail last week and tossed it aside as casually as a used napkin.
The ripple of grief, pain and heartbreak those three monsters caused is immeasurable. Joe and I are only two of thousands whose lives — whose souls — Steve and Lokita touched. Steve’s cruel murder is a kick to the collective gut of all who knew him, and none of us are yet able to breathe. There’s nothing to soothe or mitigate this nightmare, aside from donating money for Lokita’s cancer treatment in Steve’s memory. He’s not here for her anymore. We should pick up the slack.
And oh, what slack.
I can’t truly capture Steve’s essence in mere words, nor can I can capture the depth of the grief and loss coursing through so many hearts in the wake of his death, most particularly, Lokita’s. But when I’m ready, when I can breathe again, I’ll sit quietly, envision his twinkling eyes and smile, his silky, gentle voice, and remember how he radiated love, joy and bliss… I’ll rub my palms together until they burn with love and then push them to the heavens, to Steve, knowing full well that although there’s one less star in the heavens now, its light still shines brightly in the hearts of all who knew him.
Namaste, Steve. Namaste.