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Shock. I think they call it shock.

I so remember...I can still feel...the joy that flooded my being, my life, back in 2000, when Mike Ford got his new kidney. He'd been on the transplant list for a long time, but his health was so frail, infections so prone to popping up and persisting, that I thought it far more likely the timing would never work out, that whatever opportunities might come up would by need and circumstance turn out to be opportunities missed. And yet there it was, an opportunity that fit, was grasped, taken. Mike had his kidney and I was downright gleeful. I. Felt. So. Much. Joy.

So much joy, and so glad to be able to help, giving elisem a ride to the hospital less than 24 hours after Mike's transplant surgery, taking my laptop along so that while Elise and Mike visited, I could finish up some PROmote Communications work and spend some time writing my editorial for Idea #12. In that issue, I had the honor of publishing Mike and Elise's "Guy Fawkes Songbook" along with much other fine material.

And now, today, everything fragments in the face of the day's news, the day's reality. Everything fragments as I experience and perhaps begin to understand the grief that accompanies Mike's death. I hold it together well enough to make a few phone calls, two to loved ones who hadn't yet heard, a third to loved ones who had. I hold it together enough to take my sister to her first pool therapy session, pick up more prescriptions waiting for her at the pharmacy, and even stop in at Sparrow's "Service Excellence" office to express my appreciation for the public wireless network that has made all the difference in my ability to "be there" for my family this year while staying connected with my work and my world.

I hold it together, and feel the pleasure that comes from Sue's report of how very well the therapy session went, how she continues to meet and far surpass each therapy goal they set for her while also remaining cognizant of her body and its needs. She's so very clearly not pushing too hard or doing too much while she works for an optimal recovery, and the rewards that come from that work still shine through even the hardest of days. The hardest of days such as this one.

We come home. She rests, I turn to my computer, needing to work, needing also to read, read, read. To know of others' grief, to share some of my own. pnh calls to make sure I know; we both know how easy it is to assume news gets out to all corners only to learn that some obvious person who should have heard somehow didn't, how everyone assumes "of course he's heard, of course she knows" yet a loose spot in the social fabric turns into a hole that doesn't get patched for days, weeks, or longer. I hear Patrick's voice, and am comforted by his kindness, his consideration, by the few moments of sharing.

It is somehow utterly fitting that lsanderson's post announcing Mike's death was the one at the very top of my friend's list, that I got the news from him. Larry, who sent me the LJ invitation that prompted me to join this forum in the first place. Threads woven tight and true into the tapestry of our shared lives, our shared experiences.

Eventually, the need turns to the need to write, to express, to add my own voice to the many voices mourning...mourning for Mike, for our loss.

While reading, I am struck again and again by our utterly human attempt to quantify grief. We acknowledge our own grief even as we discount it, expressing our awareness that the grief of those closer to Mike is so very much greater than our own. And even though I know it's not true, that grief does come in varying levels of intensity, I can't help but liken grief and all of our emotions to uniqueness. There are no correct size modifiers for "unique," it's a binary word. Nothing can be more or less unique than anything else; uniqueness simply is. And so is grief. Whatever our individual "levels" of grief, the grief itself is unique. It is ours to experience, to learn from, to share or not as our sensibilities and circumstances suggest, to endure, to make our way through, to do with as we will to the best of our abilities. That's my take on it, anyway.

Love and sympathy shared with all who loved and cared for Mike, accompanied by thanks for and lifelong appreciation of the considerable gifts he shared with us.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 25th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC)

I don't think I knew Mike, but anyone who touched your heart would have been one of the good guys.
Sep. 25th, 2006 08:20 pm (UTC)
I think one measure of the worth of a man's life is the manner in which his passing affects others. Mike's journey has affected all of us who knew him and that, in my estimation, makes him a great human; one of the best. I took a long walk over lunch today and then stopped at Kieran's. For what better place to embrace one's grief than an Irish pub? My second pint was for Mike. I'm still composing the toast to him but it begins: Mike Ford. Author, Poet. Gentleman, Scholar. Scoundrel of the best sort.
Sep. 25th, 2006 08:22 pm (UTC)

Nice of Patrick to call. I made a point of letting Steve know this morning, since I know some weeks he reads LJ and MakingLight only sporadically. There's something important about letting people know, so they can be part of the upswelling of emotion, of sharing the loss and remembering the joys, that's easier in a group. And the group of people who loved and appreciated Mike is a very large group.

If you need some in-person sharing this week, just let me know and I'll pop up there.

*love and sympathy*
Sep. 28th, 2006 11:45 pm (UTC)
I take it you never have attended a military awards ceremony and heard such appallingly oxymoronic language as, "the singularly unique accomplishments...." I shuddered internally everytime I heard such things. (It was the sort of grammar that I believe Dr Mike would never use unintentionally, and for that matter only very rarely intentionally. The use would be either for humorous effect, horrific effect, or simultaneous humor and horror.)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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