The Mississippi's mighty, but it starts in Minnesota
At a place where you can walk across with five steps down
And I guess that's how you started like a pinprick to my heart
But at this point you rush right through me and I start to drown...
Mourning is always this. Always. It comes and goes, tidal, pulling towards, drawing back. Happy in brief moments, melancholy in the moments following. Denial and hurt, acceptance and raging at fate, and pain, always pain. And overlaying everything, the sick knowledge that we will never see the mourned one again, we will never hear them laugh, never watch them learn new things, never give advice again.
Never dance with them again. Never say good-night of an evening. Never say hello, and smile, because we say hello to them.
Tidal. Pain that comes and goes, agony of loss separated into digestable segments. Because elsewise, how could we continue to go on, if we were trapped in grieving, always, when we did?
We have to have moments of levity. We have to have moments where we smile. Even if sometimes, that leads to that dark inner voice asking how we dare smile, when we have lost; how we dare laugh when the one we miss will never laugh again.
I'm familiar in these waters, unfortunately; the whole of my life has been imbued with the certain knowledge that people leave, and they do not come back. Nearly before I could speak, I knew loss; and it never truly left. I have said before that all the ocean is my graveyard, because so many of my family are ash upon the waves.
It leads me, at the least, to a certain melancholia of apprehension.
I had been sitting in Bare Rose's VIP room when I heard. I'd gone in and sat down, as many other Bare Rose group members had, on the off-chance of winning something fun from the raffle ball. I left to make dinner, and to watch a movie, and when I came back, Miss Snook had IMed me. Oh, I meant to tell you, I remember the IM saying. Oh, I meant to tell you about Sumie.
I hadn't seen her for nearly a week, and my first thought caused my heart to fall. She's back in hospital. She's back in a coma. She's been in another accident. Oh gods, what now?
I went through notices that had accumulated while I'd been logged in, but non-responsive. And I hit the Duchess relating Sumie's death.
The rest of me fell in that instant--in world, I fell offline, and the rest of me couldn't stop crying. For nearly three hours--logging back in to the grid, changing into something more sedate, making my way to the Fallen Anvil--I couldn't stop the tears that poured down my face.
And we get the most ridiculous thoughts in moments like these. Oh, if only I'd known. Oh, if only I'd been there. Oh, I should have said more. I should have done more. I should have helped more.
I didn't say much at the memorial, the pain was too great. It kept sweeping over me and taking my words away. I know others were in a similar state. We related stories of how we met her, and the same words kept coming up to describe her, over and over.
The bright presence of her. The earnest desire to please. The joy she had in life. Her yearning to soar high, her vibrant alive-ness, that marked everyone who knew her.
When she gave me the Darkhouse that stands in Morgaine, she said it was her way of thanking me for inspiring her. I still, even now, have this urge to shake my head at that.
"Inspiring you?" I remember asking her. "All I've done is given you some advice. You created everything else."
"You helped me," she told me in return. "You helped, and I want to thank you for that."
If the memory of your life, once lived, can make people laugh, and cry, smile and weep, and yes, be inspired--then, regardless of when or where, how much your life was cut short, you have done a great thing by living it.
Sumie did that, at the very least. And she did so much more.
I'd like to mention something that happened yesterday evening, something that Mr. Drinkwater, master of the grace note, thought appropriate to read as tribute at her memorial:
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
I'll be in and out of this mood for a while yet, I think. It's going to be a few more days before I get the strength to go down to the ground in Morgaine, and look up at the Darkhouse. But that, I have, from her. Whatever else strange and surreal happens to the property--that, at least, is tribute to her spirit, quirks and virtues, flaws and loyal friendship, and to the works she built with her hands and heart.
All of us in Caledon, at the very least, have that from her--nearly every lighthouse Caledon has was built by her capable hands. It's nice to know that most of the light in the darkness she helped bring home.
Twenty-six. It was far too young to die.
(Initial stanza comes from the Indigo Girls' song Ghost; it deals with nostalgic recollection of a poisoned love. Sumie and I, we weren't that, we were friends...but she was very dear to me.)