Elegy for a Friend

In this chapel of vague connections
the pastor who didn’t know you
strokes the sadness. Soft as moths
the living answer the call,
fill the pews for an unexpected
farewell. Your children,
the reading of your work
make it easy to see the past
in a generous light.

A collector of jazz, butterflies
and old arguments, you’re first
to find out what doesn’t matter,
a list so long I should be scared
of all the things I claim as mine.
Relieved of the body’s
ambiguous realm, your memories
no longer turn on me,
their traces tucked
into the last, passionate folds.

The steeple’s shadow points
the way out as cars leave
the parking lot’s narrow stalls –
I don’t want to go to graveside.
Better to sit here and watch
clouds pass over the white façade,
a more fitting memorial,
about how every movement
has an undetected stillness.
We forgot that, between us,
deeper benedictions were always
waiting to shake off old cocoons,
ready to fan their wings. 

Received a shocking call from a friend that at first I thought was a joke.  Then I checked around to verify the information.

Sometime in the night on Sunday, November 15th, my friend Shannan went to sleep and never woke up.  Questions of whether it was intentional or an accidental overdose continue to swirl around those of us whose worlds were rocked by the news.

Shannan lived with severe bipolar disorder, and regulated it – mostly successfully – with medication.  She was kind and caring but given to bouts of depression that scared me.

She was a near-expert marksman and kept many guns in her home.  Her dog is named Ruger – the cutest little Boston Terrier you’d want to meet with an underbite so obvious, it’s like he’s intentionally showing off his bottom teeth. She adored her dog.

Shannan loved to be the party.  If ever there was a case for arrested development, she embodied it.  You couldn’t help but laugh when she was around, feeling like you were still in high school and somehow ended up hanging around the “bad girl.”  No topic was taboo.  She was always ready to stand up to anyone who crossed her in spite of her diminutive stature.  She was a giant trapped in a small body.

Your death came as a shock.  I will miss you.