Darlin' dear:

Time stops for no one and time is quickly approaching my last chance to tell you the things I have in my head. You were not aware enough to hear all my words this past weekend. Circumstances can be cruel like that. But while I was sitting with you, holding your hand and looking at the quilt pinned up on the wall within your sight, I was looking at the picture of you from a long time past.

I have a confession to make, and it is one that I absolutely regret. I did not like you when I first met you. That was 10 years ago; the same time as one of the photos on the quilt. In the picture your young, smiling, beautiful face peeks out from the side of Tess' smiling face. Your smile was powerful and carefree. While I was looking at that specific picture, I couldn't hold back my tears. I wept for you, your loss, Tess' loss and now I need to apologize for my stupidity.

I can make excuses. I was young and absolutely wrapped up in my own tragedy. I was judgmental and self-centered. I came from a different background and experience – at least, I thought so at the time. But now I need to remember some things. Those things that became our deep friendship.

I first met you in North Carolina at a nodermeet with sixty other people. The only other gathering that I'd attended had been in Boston, and I did not think that gatherings/nodermeets were appropriate for children. But, see, here is where I was wrong: you brought your daughter, yes, but you kept a close eye on her and made sure she was with good people. And, of course, your daughter is just a fierce as you and that made all the difference.

I remember sitting on the hill in front of Chris' parents' vacation home. You were sitting in the grass somewhat behind me. You were playing the guitar, and I was judging you. I am deeply ashamed of that now. I didn't know and I didn't understand. But you never knew that; life is funny like that.

You taught me kindness and acceptance.

As the years went on, I went in one direction and you in another. From time to time, we'd talk and share our lives with each other. You were working for Caltrans, I was working which was enough at the time. You were always so kind to me. We'd exchange messages from time to time, commiserating. I enjoyed the growth of our friendship and realized, slowly, just how wrong I had been about you.

You taught me to be patient and not judge people on first impressions.

Two years later, your life with Kevin began with your diagnosis. I wish with all my heart and soul that I could change that. You both deserved a lovely languid courtship full of smiles and surprises, mornings spent in bed with tea and toast, with not a care in the world. Your happiness was tempered by the devastating news of your diagnosis. We both married and lived our lives. As the years passed, my marriage disintegrated and you continued to battle for life.

You taught me to have hope and dreams. You taught me that I could achieve them.

In that same time that you were being treated for cancer and all the unkind things that accompany that, you were my cheerleader. When my life was completely falling apart and I was feeling totally lost and adrift, you were the one that suggested that I finish my undergraduate degree. You. Absolutely you. You were the one that told me, “go to the University of Oregon. It's the right place for you.”

I listened to you. I came to the UO. I have been busting my butt for the last several years to accomplish what I set my mind to, with your encouragement. You visited us and spent time with me in studio and even provided critique at one of my reviews. I loved you for your insightfulness and your bravery. All along, the only question you ever asked me was, “when can you come work for me?” How could I not be completely encouraged? You had so much trust, faith and belief in me.

Now here I am, 5 years later having just completed and presented my final comprehensive project. I will graduate in June and marry Stephen, while you, you who over the years has been nothing but a light, a presence and a source of encouragement are fighting your last battle.

It is so god damn unfair that you, you who are a light to others in the world, you who supports and encourages all around you, and yes, you who loves her husband and daughter with warts and all, are breathing your final breaths. I hate it. I hate how powerless I feel. I hate how I wasted time in our friendship. But more than anything, I hate that you may never hear or understand these words.

This past weekend, I spent a lot of time talking to your friends and family and we all just want to keep you, a beautiful person in our lives. While talking, I kept thinking about the snow we had in Eugene last week. It was heavy wet snow. Something very unusual for Eugene, not unlike the perverse nature of cancer. It's natural, but it's abnormal. I thought of you as the old big leaf maple in front of the Pioneer Mother quad – I know you'd know the tree I'm talking about. It's huge. Its canopy is easily 75' across. The weight of the heavy wet snow took out more than half the canopy. I wonder if this will be the beginning of its slow decline. I saw the limbs of the tree on the ground a tear came to my eye for what has now been lost for generations. While sitting on your couch, talking with our friends, I thought about the similarity. How something so big and mighty was destroyed by something so small, and yet part of us. In the end, I lost my anger and just felt sad. I wept.

But still, you're teaching me.

I can still feel the countertop, in your kitchen, under my hand as I stared out at the orange tree thinking about how even in dying, you are still teaching me. I had just helped Kevin change your bed linens, and as I was doing so, you were whispering to me. You were telling me how scared you were. “I'm so scared. So scared,” you kept saying. And at the time I gave you paltry words of comfort, something along the lines of, “I know you're scared, it is okay to be scared.” But really, what I should have said was what I realized while staring out at your garden in the backyard. It's not just okay to be scared, but you've just shown me how damn courageous you really are.

You've taught me about humanity.

You. You with small fluffs and tufts of soft downy hair. You, with soft skin still warm and glowing. You with whispered cries of fear. You've taught me how much courage it takes to admit our own weakness, to admit how damn small we all are and that in the end, there is still fear of the unknown. I think you have fear because you are still fighting, you are not really ready to accept your demise. You still have so much to live for and you still want to be there for us, your family and friends. The unknown is scary, and it is okay to be afraid, it means that you know what you are facing.

I love you. You have meant so much to me. You have been my friend, my mentor and my peer. We have bitched at and to each other, knowing that we just needed a good girlfriend to listen. We've made big plans for our own landscape design firm; you with your ideas, dreams and experience and me with my technical and business expertise, we would have been very successful and happy. I am going to miss you, I already do.

In the end, all that matters is that I know that I'm a better person for knowing and loving you. I will always remember how you smiled when I kissed your fuzzy head and said, “I love you, darlin,” before leaving to head home.

Love,

Jen




It is the pain that bruises forever our love of the world.
Far, far too much for one little girl to endure.
We are not a one built for this
Brutal, inanimate law.
We are crushed and each crushable begs merciless science to yield us quarter,
And pray
That the ethereal pieces of us are as we believe immutable,
Unalterable,
Forever living,
Undestroyable,
Invincible and true.
So I offer what I dearly believe,
What I have fought to learn in this brief time,
And wish it be
Forever held by each of us,
That we shall without the glimmer of doubt,
Know that we were, and are always
Together.


I think we met on the hike from hell
Somewhere in a meadow atop a mountain deep inside the Shenandoah’s
Amongst the laughter and partying there were some tears shed along the way
And you were there to help me dry them

If you can hear this you’ll know that those tears are falling again
Only this time the situation is reversed
For now it’s the older one who is shedding tears
Freely
I wish you were here to dry mine as you once did hers

Mgnx.
I think that means 'I'm sorry', among other things, in some dialect of groun'chuck chile.
Mgnx I didn't come see you more. Mgnx I didn't come see you, in the end, earlier.

Your smile and your pen brought me to deepest California, a place I am not evolved to withstand.
Your laugh and your hug made me often wish, later, I was there.

You taught me that a place with no there, there could bring love.
You taught me that yes, there is someone out there for all of us, and I just haven't looked hard enough or long enough yet.
You taught me that surrender was not a goddamn option.
You taught me that I could matter, even to those who had no reason to know me until I made one.

I'll miss you, and every time I do I'll be thankful I knew you well enough to do so.

Adapted to remove all references to religion.

A Commendation at the Time of Death

Depart, O soul, out of this world;
In the remembrance of everything that defined you;
In the remembrance of those who uplifted you;
In the Name of all who loved you.
May your rest be this day in peace,
and your dwelling place in eternal happiness.

After a seven-year fight, Christine finally passed very peacefully at around ten to three this afternoon. I will miss her enormously. There is no apology in this - I love her still.


A Song for Christine, written 21 October, 2008

And I will sing a lullaby to you,
A song for sleep, when nothing else will do.
I love you now, as for a thousand years,
I kiss your cheek to dry away your tears.

We met by stones six thousand miles away
Talked much of love, and hoped that it would stay.
"Oh for doves wings, that I might fly to you,
And bring you love, for nothing else will do."

With hands fast tied, we stood high on the earth
Our hearts aloft, our feet bound to the turf
Whose power we took and healed a mortal wound,
Our hands were joined, our hearts were finely tuned.

You brought a ring, I left behind my land
All for you be with you and hold your hand.
You gave your heart, I gave mine in return
To share with you, a life in peace to earn.


You shared your all, your family and home
I took you up, and promised not to roam.
Our hands entwined, our hearts one woven strand
I promise now to ne'er let go your hand.

You know my words do not a poem make
And yet my heart no mortal soul can take
From you and yours, forever and a day
A thousand lives I'll give you, if I may.

I promised then that I'd spend all my life
And many more, to have you as my wife
To love you then as ever I had done
I'll sing of hope, of life and love as one.



If there was ever any doubt that I am no poet, this should resolve the issue.

Some things grundoon taught me without really trying

I have often made mention of the fact that I grew up on E2.  Having joined as a child, I was granted the amazing opportunity to be exposed to some seriously kick-ass lady noder role models as I grew.  Ladies who somehow just knew when I had a bad day and were ready with e-hugs, ones who taught me the power of being a woman, ones who taught me that when you truly believe in something it's ok to take a stand, ones who pointed out to me when one of my relationships had tipped into being very unhealthy, ones who patiently walked me through the basics of writing - and many more besides.

I was lucky in that in these women I found a potent combination of mother, sister, mentor, and friend (whether they know it or not!).  And grundoon fitted this description perfectly.  It's funny how you can get such a sense of someone over pixels, even though you've never met in person.  How you can love them dearly, care about their day, and shed tears over their bad news.  It's a testament to both this site and the beautiful gift to us that was grundoon.  And I would like to share with you some things that grundoon taught me without really trying, because they are lessons that changed my life for the better and I would like to remember them.

Grundoon taught me to call people out.  I used to shy from conflict when someone had offended me until the day when grundoon came roaring to my defense and called someone out on their bullshit.  Recently I was in a similar position (in real life), and remembering grundoon's lesson I was able to call that person out succinctly and effectively.

Grundoon also taught me that I have no natural ability to pick up on when guys are flirting with me (oops).

Grundoon taught me that a truly great person retains compassion for others, even when they are facing their own tragedy.  She also taught me that there is humour in the worst of situations and that this is a beautiful way of looking at the world.

Grundoon taught me that it is ok to talk about death.  It's perhaps a very Western thing to avoid discussing it, but the candidness with which grundoon spoke about her illness and treatments was humbling for me.  Had it not been for these lessons I could not, when faced with a "meatspace" friend's death after a battle with cancer late last year, have been able to discuss his impending death without dodging around the fact or trying to convince him that he was not dying.  Instead, remembering grundoon's candidness, I was able to understand that he really wanted to have someone just listen to him, and in the end was able to tell him the things I wanted him to know before he passed.

Finally, Grundoon taught me that love is amazing and enduring even in the face of overwhelming external circumstances.  (Wertperch helped with that, too, of course!)

And I would like to thank her for being a mother, sister, mentor, and friend.  Grundoon: I feel blessed to have known you in my own small way.  You are greatly missed, wonderful woman.

You made me feel welcome. You made me smile. You listened.

You fought your battles. You inspired.

I wasn’t there like I could have been. I've lost something now that you are gone, but I know others feel the absence exponentially more keenly. I could have been a better friend, but I wasn’t. I’ll take what you gave knowing I could have given more.

There is a corridor. It is long, glowing white, with many doors branching left and right, but there is only one door I have seen. Through the door it is early evening. The air is warm and scented with trees and fruits and flowers and the sea. A lush forest canopy frames the path, and in the distance there is the sound of ocean and music and laughter. The glowing flicker of a fire lights up the canopy and it's only a short walk to the forest's edge. The sand is soft here where the beach comes to meet the trees. The ocean breeze blows gently and the setting sun paints a rainbow across the sea. At the fire there is food, wine, music and friends who have come before. Friends no longer touched by demons, age, illness or pain.

You invited us to a party at your home. It was dusk when we arrived at the great wooden doors. You let us in, hugged us, and I thanked you so very, very much for letting us be part of this, told you how honoured we were to be invited. You laughed and hugged me again and we spoke for a short while before the next visitors came and you moved on.

The house was gently lit with fairy lights and candles and was full of people. Everyone dressed to the nines, drink in hand, huge smiles on their faces. We were here to celebrate you and it was an amazing party. You floated between groups laughing and chatting and the house was filled with love and joy and celebration.

Halfway through the evening I hadn't seen you for a little while so I went searching but it was time and you had gone. And I wept and wept and awoke from the dream still weeping.

My grandfather died when I was thirteen. I still miss him, talk to him, and wish I could dance around the kitchen table with him one more time.

My grandmother passed away when I was twenty-five. She did not know she was dying, but she asked us to move the armchair so my grandfather would have more room to stand. She wasn’t ready. She told us she didn’t want to go where he was, but somewhere it had been decided that it was her time to go.

She told us to go on to the party only she could hear, and that it was time for her to sleep.

So do not fear death. You won’t be alone. The ones you love who have gone before will welcome you as we weep, and one day each of us will walk down that corridor with rooms for our families and friends and many other places and people and adventures I can’t even imagine. We will open the door marked E2 and meet you around that beautiful fire at dusk where there is no pain or sorrow, and we will be together once more.

I step outside into a fine mist rain.

I am enfolded in cloud.

The dog still wants to be walked.
The cats want their treats.
The bunny rattles her cage.
The fish will want feeding at the usual time.

My heart lies stunned in my chest.
The dog does not pull.
I walk measured.
He waits.

The rain comes harder.

I hope that where you are, is joy.

The crows harsh caws comfort me.
I answer.
They watch from the tree tops as we circle.

I am enshrouded in cloud.

We are back to the house.

I try to remember.
I have the birds.
I have the trees.

We go in.

              '
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            (  |"-.='|        
            )\ |     |  ,     
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 ( * (      \#/|     (`# )         
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'-._,-'   '-._,-'   '-._,-'      

thank you for sharing your light with our community.

I don't have any pictures from the one weird weekend I spent in Christine's actual company; I don't even know if any were taken, but if they were they got lost in any number of the shuffles that we've all gone through between then and now.

But I can tell you these two hopefully relevant and entirely contradictory things:

1. Any space she inhabited felt like her home, like she built it, decorated it, and fed people in it, and those spaces felt smaller once she had left them.

And.

2. The lady drove like a madwoman when she had a drink or three in her, and no matter how many times we ended up circling DC on the beltway that weekend, one car behind and trying desperately not to let her slip in the flow of traffic, we clung to our seats like she was our luck; we clung to our seats as if we knew that to lose her was to lose our tenuous connection to something beyond where we were sleeping that night.

Christine inhabited that weird little home in Bethesda (Bethesda? I think Bethesda) for the summer, but she also inhabits this place, and our memories, and the lives of the people who knew her better and loved her more than me.

The world feels smaller now that she's left it, and I've lost that tenuous connection.

And I'm so sorry.

This sucks.

We hadn't spoken in years, but that doesn't change the fact.

 

 

I didn't really expect to write anything here. I never got to meet Christine in person. I don't believe I ever talked to her on the phone. Even though I knew her through her writeups and by exchanging /msg's with her, I still felt like I didn't know her, and that anything I said would be an imposition.

The thing is, I do have apologies.

First, I'm sorry I didn't do more. I sent comics and letters. And those seem like tiny, insignificant things to send. Kevin has told me they loved getting them, but they still feel tiny and insignificant. I've had a guilt complex since I was a kid -- I always think I've let someone down by not doing enough, whether or not I've done anything. I'm still sorry I didn't do more.

I'm sorry I never got to meet Christine in person. I never went out to Davis to visit her and Kevin. I hate the modern security circus at airports nowadays, and I'd never get enough time off work to make the drive from Texas to California. And I hate traveling with a violent purple passion. Yes, those are excuses, and possibly not very good ones. I'm sorry I never got to meet her.

I'm sorry I didn't let her do her Decaversary Interview early. A year or two back, she asked me if she could go ahead and do her interview before her ten-year anniversary. And I told her no, because of course she'd live forever, right? It'd be no problem for her to do it after she'd actually hit the ten-year mark, right? Obviously, once she had actually passed her anniversary of being a noder, she wasn't healthy enough to do the interview. So there isn't a Grundoon Decaversary Interview. And there never will be. And just thinking of that makes me want to go sit in the dark and stick pins in my arms. That's a colossal failure as an interviewer. And you know her interview would've been so damn good. It would've been so damn good. And that's an opportunity that's lost forever. I don't deserve to ever be forgiven for letting that slide.

I had another apology, relating to what's probably a minor element of the Gamma Girl character from the Metro City Chronicles... but by the time I got it typed out, it read like the whinings of a tortured artiste, and no one wants to read that crap. So I'll make the apology to Grundy's spirit and memory. (/me makes apology to Grundy's spirit and memory, ignores the rest of you lot)

Christine was intensely important to the site and to me. I loved getting to chat with her, whether it was about the desire to squash trolls like bugs or just about whatever mad silliness was zipping through our brains. She used to have more of the mad catbox conversations on her homenode, and I'm sorry they aren't there now, because they remain some of my favorite memories of her. Thinking of her in pain, or frightened, or gone -- that's all the proof I need that gods don't exist, because no benevolent deity would let that happen to someone as awesome as Christine.

/me misses Grundoon, and I always will.

Back in 2010, grundoon and wertperch were gracious enough to grant Walter and me an interview for a project we were working on about relationships spawned by E2.

In memory of Christine and in honor of the light she shone onto all of us, I present here a link to the story of the extraordinary life and love shared by grundoon and wertperch.

"For Christine grundoon" http://vimeo.com/40357660

    There are places I'll remember
    All my life, though some have changed
    Some forever, not for better
    Some have gone and some remain
    All these places have their moments
    With lovers and friends I still can recall
    Some are dead and some are living
    In my life, I've loved them all – In My Life, The Beatles

During 2001, werty was chatting with me, in a bit of despair, about how he had been waiting, for a great deal of his life, for someone special to come along. When she flew by us all, in her cowgirl pjs, I knew she was as special as a handwritten hello. I was never so happy that it was our grundoon that captured his heart; seeing the pictures of their hand fasting brought us great joy.

    "I learn how to dig my toes into the earth to gain strength, and to reach my arms to the sky, defying gravity."-wertperch

Learning about her breast cancer was so jarring and yet she took it like the warrior woman she was. The ninjagirls decided to create calendars in 2007 and 2008 to support her fight. As things moved along for the first one, she became somewhat reticent from all of our attentions. wertperch and she were conflicted, she confided, about how to go about getting her pictures. ‘You are both imaginative writers, who love each other deeply. Perhaps you can come up with a fantasy and role-play it,’ were my suggestions, ‘Make sure to take at least twenty shots.’ The results were a creation that embodied the bounty of the Earth, a fleeting glimpse of her soul seen through the eyes of her lover.

    “If all of this seems a bit too spiritual for your ears you have never had the experience of waiting for footsteps that don't come up the stairs. It is a heartfelt silence that fills up the empty spaces.” – etouffee

Christine has left empty spots and where I once read archives to fill up on her clever dialog, I now watch for words from Kevin to reassure myself that he is doing okay. Watching QXZ’s video of grundoon and wertperch together is such a profoundly palpable gift. I cannot thank you guys enough, nor express the solace I, and many others, have received from it. What stands out the most is the unselfish care and love that grundy expressed for the sadness wert was feeling at one point of the conversation and also the idea that here is a man who pulled up roots, crisscrossed oceans and stood beside a young girl and her mother as they went through the most harrowing moments of their lives. It is plain to see that Kevin had to make a choice, and he chose to support and love such a brave woman while entering the life of an innocent child. It is a balancing act that lesser folks would quail at. Words just can't convey the sorrow I feel for grundoon’s family and the pride I feel it is to know wertperch; it is a privilege to add his name to my list of heroes.

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