It is special when people gather together to celebrate the life of someone they love and respect. I was glad to be invited to be a part of it. A few tech glitches did not mar the poignancy and power of our missing.
Decided to post the words I spoke –
Sue once told me she hated talking on the phone so I always felt blessed that she put that antipathy to one side and had long rambling conversations with me. We always seemed to have trouble finishing them, there was always one more story to tell, often a red dog related anecdote, or a thought that sparked a sideways move to something tangentially linked.
As I work on my thesis revisions I notice that Sue is there, threaded through my writing, topping and tailing my thesis, from the acknowledgements – “To Sue Porter for the PhD writing coat and Sue Porter and Glenn Hall for the red dog, Ono-Viking Ulf.” To a piece of auto-ethnographic writing from 2014 in Chapter 6 –
“She grapples with not really knowing where she is and the deep missing of Erik the Red. How could this fuzzy felt dog have got so under her skin, so into her heart? She can feel tears pricking her eyes as she thinks of him and her lostness; it’s hard to get a handle on where she has been, where she has come from, echoed in the unfamiliarity of an unknown place and Czech names .
Embrace the adventure.
Sue said yesterday that maybe Erik is her transitional object? But as Esme asked “transitional to what – a puppy, a man?
She knows her life is wholly changed. She is now a dog woman, she sees and delights in others’ dogs. Erik enabled her to be still, in the house, realise and acknowledge how difficult that had been, let her resistance to that stillness dissolve because she was no longer alone. He was such sweet company. She wonders if Sue knew he would charm her, bewitch her, enable her to drop another layer into grief, to feel the sadness rather than the anger and to weep, though he did try to shag her when she wept which turned the tears to laughter, how could it not? Maybe the noise she made was too reminiscent of his squeaky toys?
She feels stronger, more independent, and she has started listening to Radio 4 again, in the car, it seemed less charged with Erik beside her. Thoughts turn to anticipation of puppy training Ulf, something to balance attending to interviews, practice and writing up. A different, dog shaped, relationship to nurture and delight in.”
Sue accompanied me through my PhD she supported me with the lightest of touches, teaching me to listen to myself, write myself back into life after the death of my partner and I have to do that again now.
Words for Sue
I lived for four days in carefree oblivion and even when I logged on and started to search through the email trail knowing something was amiss and yet at first not believing the tributes, not comprehending who was dead. It stayed over there outside of me for a few moments and then thudded into my chest, into my heart – the cold clammy dead weight of death.
As I sat with Penny recovering in a hospital bed death felt much nearer in India, on our shoulders, not endless streets away, behind a closed door.
shock of suddenness reverberates through us all.
I weep for the loss of such wise support.
I weep for the projects unfinished, the window still sitting on my workbench, the workshops we will never deliver together.
I weep for no more collaborative writing sessions, her words sparking others, and mine mixing and blending, into a rich concoction that will always now have one flavour missing.
I weep for the loss of such a powerful desire to be in the world, using poetry and lyricism to allow the activism to burrow deep inside, be felt, stay with, and challenge assumptions we all make everyday about what is possible.
The last two weeks I spend in India, I speak to her as if she is beside me as I find broken statues with just legs and feet remaining – “You’d love that image” I say softly, capturing it with my camera – knowing also that she will not see it but others will as I recount the story of being moved to tears by the paper at the Beauty Will Save the World conference, where we first met.
The dead live on in the stories we tell. I want my stories to be fuller, better crafted because of knowing her. I want to hug my red dog and give thanks for all she gave me and acknowledge all that I/we have lost.
I wept at the 5000 year old temple in the jungle as I searched for three stones to pile atop one another, amidst the towering teetering stacks – “Small wishes” Manu, the jungle guide, said. But oh, so significant – to bless her on her journey onwards, to help us left behind.