Friday, July 13, 2007

When It Happens To Someone Else

I went to a funeral service last September for the 24 year old son of dance studio friends. He had died in a motorcycle accident. I didn't know the son, but I thought it was important to go, because the dance studio is part of my community and that's how I know them. So the dance studio is part of their community too, and I wanted them to know that they have friends everywhere who care about them.

I wrote the following in the days shortly afterwards, but I've edited it a little here. What impact did Phil's death have on me, in terms of action or attitude? I tell people I love them when I do. I tell Zirpu every time one of us leaves the house, and when I drop him off at BART in the morning.


I went to a memorial service today for the ---s' son, who was killed in a motorcycle accident last Saturday. I feel so bad for his friends, of whom there were a lot at the church (and probably 200+ people altogether), the way I felt bad for the friends of those students who died at SMC in 2001 and 2002. It doesn't seem fair to me for them to have to experience that, to have a friend die and the grief and shock and unrealness of it. It doesn't seem fair to me that we had to go through that when Phil died.

I still wish that we had talked more about him than we did. Maybe because two of us were in Portland, five were in Seattle, one was in Victoria, one was in Tacoma, and one was in Colorado Springs, so we weren't physically close to each other the way the ---s' friends and family seemed to be since they are still local.

Phil was really important to each of us, each of us had our relationship to Phil. No one felt exactly like anyone else, I think, when he died because we all had our own relationship with him. I still think I learned about myself through my relationship with him... I know I learned about generosity and started to learn about appreciating fine things from him.


I found my journal that includes that period of Phil's death. It turns out that I DID spend a lot of time talking with people about Phil and his death. I didn't remember, but Ms. S. was in PDX shortly after for a family thing, and Jujubi came back home for a few days at the end of August, and Dr. BFS was in town for a conference right after, and Shobi-wan and I went up to Tacoma for a BBQ at Mrs. and Mr. P's in honor of another friend at the end of July. I went to Seattle for a few days when Shobi-wan went to Wyoming. Two couples were down for my birthday and Bink and her friend came down the following week. Denver D and his friend came in October. And of course Shobi-wan and I talked a lot about him and it.

I have been remembering HOW I FELT as opposed to WHAT HAPPENED – and how I felt was that I would not, could not, get my fill of talking about Phil.

So one thing reading over that journal is making me think that I have not been very generous in my memories toward my friends. I've been feeling like I wanted to talk but I was the only one who did, but in fact, I saw a lot of my dear friends in that period, despite our living far apart, and we did talk about Phil when we saw each other – and not just about Phil himself but how we felt and were impacted when he died.

On 8/19/92 I wrote, “I'm afraid that a time will come when I'll still want to talk about Phil and no one else will need to anymore. Or worse, that I will want to and the other person(s) will want to, but neither of us will know it, or we'll both be too shy to start.” On the 27th I quoted a letter to BFS saying “It's been really good to be spending as much time with people who I love, who loved Phil, who love me. We can all talk about Phil as much as we want and not feel embarrassed...”

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