I didn’t put my “Farewell to a Friend” post up on this blog because, frankly, at the time, going through WordPress seemed too cumbersome and complicated and I just couldn’t deal. I can do LiveJournal in my sleep. Even though WP isn’t any more complicated, really, I just didn’t have the spoons.
I have spoons now. Nonetheless, I’m still gobsmacked and in shock from the death of my friend Lori. It’s been just about a week since I got the two calls from her husband–one, to tell me how severe it was (news that I both expected and dreaded hearing, suspecting it did not make hearing it one whit better), the next to tell me that she was gone.
It took DH and me nearly a week before we could talk to each other about it, and that only after we went to see her husband. In the interim, we went to Oregon Country Fair, which was probably the best thing for ourselves that we could have done. Even then, I found moments where I thought “I can’t share this with Lori any more.” Not “I’m going to share this with Lori–oh, no I can’t.” I wasn’t even thinking about sharing and then realizing. The realization that I couldn’t share was there. Stark. Huge. Like the cavity left after a freshly-pulled tooth, that your tongue keeps seeking out and exploring.
I mean, who the hell else in my life now can I share that frisson with that I experienced when Bernadine Dorhn spoke up at the panel with herself and Bill Ayres to say “Let’s hear from a sister” and realize that for her, it wasn’t just posturing or pandering but a genuine expression of feminism that was deeply internalized and not conscious. A reflection of shared experiences and dialogue that wouldn’t need a lot of explanation. Someone who would resonate in such a way that I wouldn’t have to explain why it touched me in the way it did. Besides DH, one, maybe two people who are reading this (Kris Lewis and John Silvertooth, I’m LOOKING AT YOU).
There is a whole history of verbal and ideological shortcuts with someone that just died. A library of thirty-two years of shared experiences and reflections that is no longer available. It’s not just Lori who died, it’s a part of me who died with her. A partner in ongoing dialogue. Our relationship was intellectual and ideological, not just personal. You don’t build such relationships overnight, you build them over a lifetime.
And the personal was political. Working class rural left political. Part of our last conversations included discussions about what’s happening with the longshoremen in Longview and the degree to which there’s a lot of grass-roots longshoremen support in the town.
Most folks who know me on line don’t know that much about my political past. It’s never been headliner stuff. With rare exceptions, I’ve tended to avoid cameras and media attention, just been the girl in the back room who kept stuff going, who did the research, who saw what happened. Lori was a big part of that past. One reason I’ve not talked about it is because she was intensely private and I respected that privacy. Another is that if you’ve not been in those back rooms on the low level campaigns, you don’t know what that life is like, and it takes too damn long to explain it before getting to the point. Most people really don’t want to hear about this. Plus there are some political insights that you can only share with your closest circle when you’ve been in that world. Skeletons that both of you know about that maybe are no longer relevant because of various reasons, and can grimly share the latest development without a lot of expository detailing.
And to be honest, I know damn good and well that there are people out there who are both happy and relieved that she is gone (none of you who are reading this, for certain). You play in the small level political world and that’s the truth of things. There are always shadows when you play in the political world, and sometimes karma takes a very long time to come around. Some secrets go to the grave. Others are freed by the grave.
All of this is a very long way around to say that there are shadows flitting around me now. I’m not sure where they will take me. But…I feel this loss very deeply. Lori was a part of my life for longer than my mother was and almost longer than my father (my mother died when I was twenty-nine, my father several years later). I wouldn’t say we were necessarily BFF in that blindly cheering way so many people like to proclaim…but we were close friends, good friends, and still…it’s a loss.