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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Goodbye, My Friend

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Goodbye, My Friend

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out of the light star
These are my personal musings on the recent loss of my friend and SWG member lady_roisin. Her loss is still very raw for me and many others, I know. I am putting the rest beneath a cut out of respect for those who aren't ready or comfortable talking about it yet.

I have been wrangling with this post for some days now. It is hard to put into words what Roisin meant to me as a friend and what her loss has meant as well. This is not the first time I have lost a friend, but it is the first time I have lost an online friend.

When I was 17, my friend Laurie was struck by a car while crossing the street and killed. I still remember where I was in the hallway in my high school and the look on my friend Julia's face as she ran up to tell me. I still remember trying to pay attention in AP Biology class while my head was swimming and my thoughts wouldn't rest. Laurie was always klutzy--I carried her books for her on many occasions when she was on crutches--but she was 17. 17. It was spring; prom, graduation, and the start of college were all imminent, those occasions that serve as rites of passage into adulthood in our modern world. At the time, I couldn't bear that Laurie would miss all of that, that she would never become an adult, that we would all move on in our lives and leave her behind us.

Roisin was also my age; less than a year older than me. Although I have known for some months now that we would lose her, the hurt is still there because, again, there was so much still ahead of her. She was a polymath--a writer, dancer, costumer, and musician--and barely a week went by when she and I didn't talk about some new project of hers that she was up to her elbows in. Her stories on SWG contain many, many unfinished stories and arcs. We had a lot in common: hyperactive muses, a helium hand, an unflagging hunger for social justice, and a tendency to translate strong emotion into art.

Before she died, Roisin wrote several new stories for the SWG birthday celebration. The other day, I was copychecking and formatting her stories for What Would Socrates Say?, my first time reading her work since her death. It struck me then that her stories were over. All of that potential, all those unspoken, unwritten tales--gone.

Loss on the Internet is different. There is little chance for closure. I never saw Roisin while she was sick; to me, she was always the vibrant young woman in her Facebook photos. Days, sometimes weeks, would pass when she was especially sick or taking some time off from fandom; it was too easy to believe that this was one of those times, that I'd wake up tomorrow or the next day, and there would be an email from her saying that she was doing better and coming back. And I'd be grateful for another few weeks with her.

But, reading her stories, I forced myself to confront it: This was it. She wasn't coming back.

I don't fear death. I grew up in a areligious household--and I do mean areligious, not anti-religious. Religion wasn't discussed, and I was isolated enough from my peers that I wasn't exposed to their beliefs or practices either. I had a children's Bible that I liked for the stories and the pictures, but my mom and I spoke more about ghosts and ESP than we did traditional religion, and I didn't know much less understand the fundamental beliefs of Christianity until I was a teenager and a widening social circle brought me in contact with them. I thought that heaven was something people told to kids, like Santa Claus, to soften life's sharp edges; I didn't know that people actually believed in it till I was nearly an adult. I never learned to think of my life's deeds as they related to judgment in an afterlife. They related only to how the world was for my being in it.

So I took--and still take--my cues about life and death from the natural world around me. Nothing ends, only changes. It is autumn, a sad time for me as the world around me fades and I prepare for the long and, for me, emotionally draining ordeal of winter. Yet nothing ends. It only rests for a time and arises in a new form. Spring comes again.

Walt Whitman is the Felagund Family poet; he put into words sentiments that Bobby and I share, in a form more beautiful than anything we could say. One day, when I was sad about Roisin, he sent me a passage from "Uncle Walt," as he calls him. I've been reading Uncle Walt in the last few days, as I say goodbye to Roisin.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

Goodbye, Roisin.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • She has passed, then. I feared as much.

    I didn't know her as long as you did, but nonetheless she was a good friend to me and I will miss her very much.

  • Thank you for the thoughtful comments, Dawn. It is a strange sense of loss when someone you've only known through the virtual community passes away, but nevertheless affecting. Like you I've thought sadly that there will be no more stories. It seems so unfair when someone so young and full of life must go through such an ordeal.
  • /hugs
  • That was very beautiful. I did not know her long, until she friended me about three weeks ago. She seemed so enthusiastic and vital I had no idea how truly ill she was.
  • (no subject) - satismagic
  • An old story and a suggestion

    Closure is tough and especially when there's no final ceremony. But an idea percolated up last night that may help. Allow me to share the "why" story behind this.
    When my Mom passed away there was no funeral - just a memorial service - her wishes. In Alabama Funerals are on a par with weddings and christenings. You just DON'T not do them. So a number of folks did come to the service but you could feel the confusion - except for one amazingly brightly dressed little black woman who sported a broad brimmed hat, suit and shoes - all in SCARLET RED. In a sea of black and grays she naturally stood out. So I commented on how lovely she looked and told her it was my favorite color - which red is. She told me she wore the red for the same reason and it was a happy color for her. Then she said something I've never forgotten - please forgive the attempt to copy her deep south accent - "Baby, Yo Momma was a bright spot in my worl' an I wore this red cause I'se celebratin' yo Momma and the fact that she's a bright spot in Hevvin with Jesus now." So I did the only thing I could think of - I gave her the biggest hug I could and thanked her profusely.

    So I think you and your friends who wrote with Roisin might consider a "Lady Roisin Celebration Write-in" with every thing from Roisin stories of things she did and said and wrote with folks to creating your own stories from bits of Roisin's works or stories done in her style. An on-line Celebration to honor Roisin. It should be happy, sad, funny and interesting and it could be compiled into a memorial for this fine lady.

    Anyway - just a thought. I was in a funk myself yesterday and thoughts turned to losing family and friends when I read your note. We lost Puff to some unknown cause Thursday morning. He came in having trouble breathing, obviously uncomfortable and between the time we found him that way and got things gathered to head for the vets he was gone. He's the blond tabby icon I have up right now. He would have been 2 very soon. So it all sort of tumbled into one big gray funk and my thoughts turned inward. Hope you don't mind my meddling advice and rambling babble that I call a story.
    • Re: An old story and a suggestion

      So I think you and your friends who wrote with Roisin might consider a "Lady Roisin Celebration Write-in" with every thing from Roisin stories of things she did and said and wrote with folks to creating your own stories from bits of Roisin's works or stories done in her style. An on-line Celebration to honor Roisin. It should be happy, sad, funny and interesting and it could be compiled into a memorial for this fine lady.

      You know, that compilation would also make a lovely gift to present to her family (assuming, of course, that they knew she was fannish). I suspect it would mean a lot to them to know how many people Roisin's life touched so positively.
      • Re: An old story and a suggestion

        I'm glad the idea appeals to someone. I suspect that sort of gift to the family would be appreciated no matter what. When a lady in our SCA group passed away we compiled a collection of photos and remembrances and gave them to her husband. I remember him standing there watching the photos as the slideshow moved through them...dead silent, tears streaming down his face. Yes - I think it would be appreciated. The writing would be a sort of closure for Roisin's friends, as well.
  • I only crossed paths with her briefly and I am saddened to hear of her passing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Dawn.
  • I never really crossed paths with Lady Roisin. Still, I am very sorry to hear that she has passed, and so young, too. You wrote a wonderful tribute, here. Thank you!
  • Beautiful post, Dawn. Roisin's death saddened me too, although I didn't know her very well. What I didn't know was her age - she was so young! :(
    I remember that you and I once talked about online friendship in general, and we both said that online friendships can be just as strong as those in RL. I still think so, for I have several online friends that I'm really close with. I know how I'd feel if something happened to them, and I know how you feel now. And if you need a shoulder to cry on, I am always here. *hugs*
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