Yesterday I got together for coffee and a walk with my friend Mike's fabulous sister Jen. She's been living out here for the past four years, but she's moving away this month. Jen was the one who contacted me about Mike's death, and I'm so glad that it worked out that I could sit down and talk with her about everything. Having missed the funeral and my friends' "Remembering Mike" party, I needed that time to sit down and talk. I hope that I helped her a little, too.
In many ways, the enire day was my own funeral for Mike. I am fully convinced that an inherent part of being human, or at least of being socialised by our culture, is the need for some sort of commemorative act on such momentous occasions as loss. We need something to set it apart, to get it outside of our own heads, to lend structure and definition to something that seems larger than our comprehension. We need to build that altar to remember where we have been, so that we don't forget. In many ways, yesterday I felt like the woman in David Macfarlane's Summer Gone, who was forbidden to hold a funeral for her dead husband, and therefore became obsessed with the organisation of the day of his memorial supper. She needed order, and so everything had to happen at very specific times.
After I had gotten a lot of closure from really emotionally honest talk with Jen, I sat down and talked everything through with Chris. Then I cried a bunch, and I started my usual mourning ritual, begun in the days of Meg and me. We quite happily found jasmine tea among the teas given to us at our wedding (jasmine is essential if I've cried -- in the style of Karl, I add lots of sugar). I carefully made the tea, and we sat down at the kitchen table to drink it and talk. Drinking jasmine tea with a loved one makes all the difference. Later, I read John Donne's Meditation XVII out loud to Chris, and explained how and why I am "involved in mankind." How I first read this meditation the day I learned my friend Raeanne had died, and how I came to understand why every affliction is a treasure.
You know, Mike didn't seem so far away when I talked with Jen. Of course, there are the ways in which she looks strikingly like her brother -- especially her different smiles. She does both the closed-mouth satisfied smile and the toothy please-with-myself grin. But, more importantly, talking her reminded me of the lesson that God taught me through Mike: of God's unconditional love. That really was the theme of my friendship with Mike, on both of our sides, because we went through some really tough times. I don't know how many times I told him that I disagreed with him/I was worried about him/I refused to take sides in this issue/what on earth had he done, but I still loved him all the same, and he was still my Mikey. In the end, I hurt him badly (but it was something I had no choice but to do), and he finally returned with that same response: he was hurt, but he understood, and he valued our friendship too much to let it come between us. Talking with Jen, I learned that Mike embodied that same unconditional love for her. And that made me remember, and that made me learn.
Yesterday was amazing. In addition to all this, Jen walked me gave me an insider's tour of downtown Victoria, and told me what I need to know to live in this city. She is now my resource on the best place to buy pizza, where to get a tent, where you can get cheap vegetables in Chinatown, and so much more. I was feeling lost here, and that helped me a lot.
This all feels so strangely full-circle to me. When Mike moved to Regina, he barely knew anyone. But he met my bubbly doppelganger, Ariann (rhymes with Maryanne), who took him under her wing, and introduced him to everything and everyone, making him feel at home. And here I arrive to Victoria, similarly new and lost, and his sister did that same favour for me.
And so I end this musing here. Mikey, I know you have finally found peace and healing, in God's arms. Thanks for everything, kid.