Light, loss & living for others

At the time of first trying to express my grief and gratitude–the news about Christopher Seguin’s sudden passing was very recent. Three weeks have since passed since the staggering loss. His celebration of life service was held on Saturday, October 14.  While sitting in the church, hearing about his life, attempting to comprehend the moment, working steadily through a box of tissues–I marveled at how his absence was a deeply felt presence in the packed room. 

There has been rumors and revelations–and while there should be appropriate and respectful channels to discuss and dissect the circumstances surrounding his death, but I won’t do that here.  Existence is a complex experience. We navigate through frameworks of social constructs, we play roles, we love and are loved, we lose and recover, we try and fail until the clock stops ticking–and we then become constellations in the vast atmosphere that is the human condition. 

I tried to capture a singular moment that reflected my memory of Christopher. Words failed as I reeled at the magnitude of the loss.  The tragedy is layer upon layer of agony and anguish for all who were impacted by his life and his loss– his family, his wife, his children, the community, the university–and on and on and on. My heart goes out to those hurting most–and I extend my loving thoughts outwards. 

….

The flags were flying at half-mast on and while I logically understood the reason, my mind revolted against the truth. I half-expect to see him somewhere on campus. However, that towering figure, that booming voice, that presence is gone—and that reality is simply too painful to bear.
To me, Christopher Seguin was like a classic movie star come to life in the modern age: strapping, stylish and smart—a gentleman and an adventurer—like Cary Grant from somewhere between The Philadelphia Story and Gunga Din.

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We met through the Kamloops Film Festival. He became a mentor, ally and friend.

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During a period of professional adjustment—when I was feeling rather lost in the world—Christopher offered direction.  He regaled me with a self deprecating tale about himself as a young, idealistic man writing a piece that he felt so proud of—only for it to never see the light of day.

This conversation took place during a quick walk around campus.  He stopped where we had started, about to set off in another direction.  “The writing is good”—he said, smiling, assuring. As he walked away, his coat collar popped against the crisp autumn weather, he tossed a final sentence over his shoulder “…but it could be better.”
Ah, that was a cool moment.
He wasn’t one to soften blows, he told you how it was. At the same time, he showed vulnerability while sharing stories of his own personal growth. He offered insights and advice, but tasked you with reaching higher levels of personal achievement. It’s good–but it could always be better.

In the first days of shock and sadness, while trying to occupy my unraveling thoughts–I thought a lot about Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief–and tried to remember the DABDA scale from long-ago Psychology classes.

Denial:  “In this stage, individuals believe the diagnosis or situation is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.”

Yes, the false, preferable reality seems reasonable to me.

As Joan Didion noted in her memoir “The Year of Magical Thinking“, “I was myself in no way prepared to accept this news as final: there was a level on which I believed what had happened remained reversible.”

In grief, we are at war with ourselves, rallying against reason, and struggling to reconcile the loss. My mind wanders back and forth between fact and fantasy—I strive to create a world in which Christopher could overcome death. He had plans, goals and value

This. Cannot. Be. It.

And yet, it is. Waves of anguish crashing repeatedly, threatening to overwhelm you as you try to make sense of a senseless tragedy. Wrestling with memory and circumstance, burdened by the weight of  heartbreak, the clashing of absence and presence.

You were just here.

What is one to do when great lights are snuffed out? In that darkness you begin to realize how much these people were quiet architects to our growth and successes. There lies a portion of Christopher’s memory—his legacy resides in those he insisted do better.

As Margaret Atwood once said:

I hope that Christopher becomes more than that. I hope that he carries on in spirit through acts of service. As we move forward into the wilderness of grief and loss, I hope we carry along his memory. He was someone who urged us to excel beyond our wildest expectations–and to encourage others to do the same.  Instead of envisioning a great light dimming into darkness—imagine it fracturing into a million pieces—so that we could find it everywhere. As we move forward, may we absorb even a fraction of that energy, warmth and light.

 

 

Atwood, Oprah & Jesus

How lovely.  The writer of “Ramblings of a Mad Kat” nominated “Pin Up Picks Pen Up” for The Liebster Award.

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What an uplifting moment that was.

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The night before I found out about my little prize, I had written exactly one line.  The blog was a place I used to come to.  There was a period where I was cranking out daily postings, my brain was a buzz with activities and ideas. My office was the first place I’d go to in the morning, coffee cup in hand, CBC2 in the background.  I would fill my notebook with ideas for future pieces, I used to work every day…sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, and late into the night, words tumbling out of me, fingers feverishly accosting the keyboard, pounding out phrases.

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I entered a couple of writing contests, and I was never considered.  I got a little discouraged, got incredibly busy, and then…now, enough time has gone by that it’s gotten weird between us.  Like running into someone you used to be close to, there’s history there so it’s hard to be casual.   Or like when you bump into someone you know at the grocery store.  Say, you once took a class together, or worked at the same job one summer.  You like and respect them, wish them the very best.  You say, “nice to see you…we should really have coffee sometime”.

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“Absolutely” they say, nodding earnestly. Boy is it a nice idea, chipping out a little time for this old friend, grabbing a latte and catching up.  But let’s be honest.

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I hear you girlfriend.  That’s how I feel about the blog these days.  But I want to get back to that place.  Without the blog, without the creative outlet, I feel a little lost…a little deflated.  I’ve been through a trying couple of weeks.  I’ve gotten into a bit of a slump.  I’ve been feeling gold medal, black belt levels of the blahs.  Today I called my best friend, organized my closet, got a hair cut and bought a few new items for the winter season.  I spruced up a little; wore a dress and boots to the mall, and left feeling much lighter.  My husband and I visited with friends, and now I am at home taking the time to visit with an old friend of my own.

I’m to answer these questions about myself, so here goes…

1.       If you could be any animal, what would you be? 

My husband calls me ‘goat’, because I am stubborn, small and have been known to head butt .  I call him Bear because of his stature and magnificent beard.  In the animal kingdom we would be a goat and a bear and we would still be best friends.

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2.       Invite three people to dinner, living or dead – who are they? 

I wish I could honestly answer this question more academically, Margaret Atwood  Oprah and Jesus and whatnot…but I’d have to go with Audrey Hepburn, Nora Ephron and Tina Fey. 

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3.       What’s the best Christmas gift you could get?

Plane tickets with a big red bow. 

4.       What is your favorite blog entry you’ve written – please, post a link for us to read.

Oh I’m sorry…did you say my favorite five…no it was ten? Okay then!

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/06/06/double-duchess/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/07/12/mazel-tov-cocktail/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/05/29/tweets-twats/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/07/19/ten-sense/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/03/14/intensive-care-union/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/09/22/something-blue/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/08/15/guns-mom-jeans/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/06/19/beyonce-it-isnt-so/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/06/11/day-in-the-life/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/07/10/rules-of-the-roadhouse/

5.       Who is your greatest inspiration? 

Nora Ephron, David Sedaris, Tina Fey, Elizabeth Gilbert, Barbra Streisand, Meryl Streep and Audrey Hepburn.

6.       Most embarrassing moment (that you are willing to share) 

Good Lord, how much time do you have?

7.       Name one thing that you wish you had done in your life thus far.  

Traveled to Europe.  To me, Paris is a necessity. 

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8.       What’s your favorite food?        

I love food in general; curry, satay, pasta…I prefer vegetarian but I eat a little meat.  I’m more savory than sweet.  My death row, last meal would be various kinds of bread with lots of things to dip into. And french fries.  Yes, definitely french fries.  And then I’d have a latte.     

9.       Cheesecake or Cake?   

I can appreciate both, but wouldn’t turn down an exquisite slice of cherry cheese cake. 

10.    Favorite Olympic sport?     

Ha ha, bitch please! 

11.    If you could ask your great grandparents one thing, what would it be?

Were you happy?

I’d like to pass the award onwards to some of my favorites.

1) An Opinionated Girl VS. The World. http://lilynichol.wordpress.com/

2) Entrepreneur by Nurture. http://www.effectiveenterprise.co.nz/

3) Vinyl and Pearls vinylandpearls.wordpress.com

4) Lonely City http://lonelycityperth.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/allow-me-to-introduce-myself/

5) Vodka, Unicorns and Lincoln Logs http://dagmartully.wordpress.com/

There are so many great blogs out there, and I wish you the strength and perseverance to continue…no matter how busy life gets…cause once in a while you get a little reminder about just how fabulous you can be.

oscarpix17f-2-copyImages Courtesy of Google