Endings.

Dec. 28th, 2010 02:23 am
kirby1024: Neon outline of Kirby on black (Kirby Neon)
And so, this journal reaches the end of another year, safe and sound. I used to have a tradition (as so many LJers and DWers have) of marking the end of the year with a nice big recap post of everything that's happened during the year. I seem to have a slightly different tradition, looking back on my previous years - I seem to have a different kind of end-of-year post every year, which I guess is kind of fitting - The last few years have left me acutely aware of the changing nature of my life, how everything seem to shift so radically from year to year, and so it seems that every year, I need something different to mark the ending of the years. Last year, for example, I decided to make a change and focus on the directions for the next year - look forwards instead of look back.

This year, though, I really do think I need to look back. There's been a lot of stuff that's happened this year and I can't say that I've really gone and given myself full closure on a lot of it. With such an obvious ending looming in sight, I thought I'd take the opportunity to take stock of those things that have ended for me in this year, to bring it into the light and take the chance to accept these endings before the year clocks over once more.

This year, first of all,marked the ending of my goal of going back to university to continue my studies. Earlier this year I came to the realisation that I was constantly looking at every job I had as just a placeholder - something to run with until I paid off my debts so I could go back to uni. Which would have been fine - except that the goal kept getting further and further away, because I never seemed to be paying my debts off, and this kept making me more and more miserable. This year, I realised what a price this misery was holding on me, and so I stopped waiting, and decided to put my all into the place I had now, the job I had now.

This year, I ended my tenancy with the wonderful people of Clive St and moved in with [personal profile] erinkyan. It's meant a few sacrifices, but I have a wonderful home, with a wonderful couch, it's an ending with a wonderful new beginning.

And then, there are the endings with no beginnings to follow. This year I lost my Uncle Michael, most likely due his body giving out. He was an inspiration in a lot of ways to me, and I miss him dearly. Since then, I've acquired a few things of his - I ended up with his graduation robes, and some of his other university paraphernalia. I still miss him sometimes, there's occaisionally a bit of sadness, but I think my feelings have reached that place of acceptance. Missed, but not grieved over any longer.

He was not the only one to fall this year - A good friend of mine, Steve, also died this year, tragically by his own hand. Since his death I've been trying to accept that death, but of course it's been hard, so hard. In a lot of ways, it's Steve that's been bringing me to this post, a couple of things in the last few days have got me back to thinking about Steve again, and there's clearly still a lot of emotion floating around. I want to bring it up, to think about it again, feel that hurt, confusion, sadness, grief, properly and willingly, so I can leave his ending with the ending of the new year.

Because they're all still there. I still miss him so much, and it hurts to know that I'll never have another conversation with him in person. I still don't think I understand why he did it, but I think I've come to the conclusion that maybe there's not much there to get - or perhaps, that the reason just isn't that important. As much as I want to know, knowing doesn't bring him back. When I think about him I still sometimes break into tears, I've broken into tears a few times writing this post in fact. I guess in a lot of ways I haven't been able to take that feeling of closure from the rituals I've been engaging in, and I know he doesn't have a grave I can visit to go talk to him (although really, you don't have to be at a grave to talk to the dead - you just need to find a way to make the connection). I wish I could find that last end, put it all to rest, but I'm not sure this Ending is going to be that neat.

And so, I open up the post to the floor - please, if you will, if you can spare, join me in taking the endings we've had this year, share them, and maybe we can leave these endings to rest this year, so we can better accept and love the beginnings that will surely sprout next year.
kirby1024: Hypercube Graph Icon (Hypercube)
I have often heard the saying "Do not go gentle into that good night", and until now I have never actually looked up the original poem. I have often interpreted this line (without knowing the context) as a statement of legacy - To not go gentle into that good night is for one's death to be remembered, for the things a person has done to live on beyond their death. I've often used it explicitly in reference to death where the internet is concerned - death is often reflected online as just an extended silence, no questions asked, just a general sense of "I wonder what happened to that guy?". It is very easy to go gentle into the good night of the internet.

After reading up on Dylan Thomas' poem, I've had it entirely wrong. Dylan's line is an exhortation (to his father in particular) to not accept old age, and to rage against his frailties, become again the militant man he was. While it has much to do with death, it has nothing to do with legacy - it's an exhortation to live life as though you're still young.

But you know what? I think even knowing what the poem was originally about, I like my interpretation of the line. Certainly, it's a whole lot more relevant to me than the original. But just the same, I think I'll not go gentle into that good night either way, as much as I can.
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I have often felt that certain people in my various social groups are "natural connectors" - they're people who seem to have their fingers in so many pies that you'll often meet random strangers who know them, even though they come from completely different social groups. It's always a bit weird when it happens.

Today I had an interesting experience on the other side.

I've made several posts about Steve's death, and I made the decision to make them public, partially because I wanted to grieve publicly, and partially because I knew that a lot of people who knew Steve read my posts, but might not be on my Friends list, and I wanted Steve's friends to know. I did the same thing with my Uncle Michael - I wanted my family to be able to read what I'd written about him, so being public with my grief was important. With my Uncle, it turned out that a few people found my LJ, and left messages (and a couple of people commented about it at the funeral). Thanks to those, I learned a lot more about my Uncle.

Today a random person friended me on GTalk. It was someone from a forum that Steve used to frequent. He'd been a constant internet friend of Steve, and he'd noticed that Steve hadn't talked much for the last month. He'd started doing some research with what little he knew about Steve, and eventually found my posts on Steven, and then, of course, sent me a chat message. We ended up talking about him for a good hour, and honestly? It was good to confirm a lot of stuff about Steve with someone who'd known him for at least as long as I had, even if they'd never met him in the flesh. That someone outside of his physical presence had worried about Steve enough to hunt down and find out what happened. That he had enough of an impact on the places he hung out that he did not go gently into that good night.

And then, Steve's friend posted to the forum that he frequented about Steve's suicide (You need an account on the forum to view the page). In less than half a day, that thread is already at 4 pages long, of people who knew his posts, of those who never met him, of those who played against him in the online world. All these people who knew Steve, who I certainly never knew about. All those people who you always worry will never get to know. Now they knew, and more than a few people were crying at the news.

I'm still not over Steve's death, and I know there's still a lot of processing that needs to go on, but for the first time in a while I honestly feel hopeful about Steve's death. In life alone, he has touched people all around the world, not just those in his hometown.

And it has shown me that the path I tread, the attempt to keep as much of my life and emotions in the public sphere as I can, to publicly process all the crap and shit that's happened in the past while? It's helping people. As strange as it is to be the connector now, I'm glad to be there. I'm out there enough that I can be a beacon for people.

It's worth it, all of it.
kirby1024: Kirbinator Icon (half-my face, half-terminator face) (Default)
As I have mentioned previously, here and elsewhere, my brain has this thing it does. When I'm upset, or I don't want to deal with something, or I'm generally feeling negative, my brain runs away. It has learned that it can stop feeling bad by making me do things, by keeping my mind occupied. My brain also discovered this really fun trick at work, in that when I project happiness on a call, I am happy, for all intents and purposes, at least on that call.

In short, it's part of a very long history I have of not facing up to emotions, especially the negative set. This, ladies, gentlemen, and others not of the previous two persuasions, is not a healthy thing.

So, since Steve's death, I haven't really been actually dealing with it. There have been points where I let some of the emotion out, but dealing with it? No, not really. So, a couple of days ago, I was talking to one of my workmates about it, and the undealt-with issues decided to tell me in no uncertain terms that I wasn't going to just be able to ignore it.

Last night I went over to [personal profile] erinkyan's place to drop off a couple of things, and it came to a head - Erin asked the dreaded question "Are you okay?", and I finally admitted that not, I wasn't, not really, not even at all. I cried for an hour, as [personal profile] erinkyan tried to push me to talk about the pain, the sadness, the anger. All those bubbling emotions trapped in my head that my job simply doesn't let me release.

Let me say, by the way, I have never been more happy to have [personal profile] erinkyan as my boyfriend than last night, when he asked me to go through a visualisation with him, to help me actually experience all the pain and emotions, before pushing them all out. It helped so much to have a place where I could safely feel those emotions.

Today, I have also chatted to someone on Lifeline, and after I finish this post, I am going to go see [personal profile] erinkyan before his date. But before that, I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to make a big, poignant post about Steve, the same way I did for my Uncle. I couldn't do it then, because I still didn't have the whole impact of emotions. But I think I can try now.

My strongest memories of Steve were from our time together in the SVGA. He first started as our Librarian, at a time where we really didn't have a particularly decent library, so he ended up sorta being a member without portfolio. And a member without a portfolio, you find, tends to get stuck with a lot of odd jobs. Steve I recall helped make the SVGA's logo (seen here, he helped in (my time's) everpresent attempts to purchase a television for the club, so that I wouldn't have to lug televisions around. Once I moved out of home, I remember being so grateful that he was willing to drive me and my televisions home.

I remember Steven getting drunk at uni camps, and remembering that he never really seemed to get much louder, although he was always a very happy, very silly drunk. At parties he'd get right into conversation, about games and geeky things. You could tell that he was an intensely bright man, tempered perhaps only by shyness, by his own quietness, but explain something to him, and you very rarely had to explain it twice, and that was something I respected about Steve a lot.

But when I look back on the time I spent with Steve, I find that I remember a lot about the events, a lot about what he did, but not a lot about Steve, the person. At the funeral, they mentioned he was an intensely private and quiet individual, and I can't say I disagree terribly about that. As much as he was a constant presence in Korner, as much as he was a mainstay in the SVGA, I didn't get to see a lot of him, in particular. I know that he often had a wicked sense of humour, as the quiet people often do. That, like me, he could latch onto a joke and run with it. I remember more than anything that he always seemed to have a good heart, was always happy to participate, always happy to help out. He was always there.

And now, he isn't. Now he is gone, by his own hand. His mother made a request at the funeral, that we respect his choice to end his own life, to be willing to let go. I want to be able to respect that choice, and I think I'm closer that now than I was since my last post. I will miss him, a lot, I will miss having such a good person in my life. I'm not sure how he saw us, but right now, I would proudly say that he was, and shall always be, my friend. Had he asked for anything, I would have done my best to make it happen. When I visited him in hospital, I told him that, should he ever need to talk, about anything, he could call me, and I would listen, and I would have. I wish we were closer, but I guess there's no sense in wishes like that now.

I miss you so much, Steve. I hope you know how much you were loved by your friends, I hope you know that people had to stand at your funeral, so many people came to pay their respects to you. I wish the turmoil in your life could have been resolved by those around you, but clearly this was not to be. I hope that, if you are anywhere, that you are finally at peace. Thank you for being part of my life, however brief it must be. I don't think I can let go of you yet, but I will try and move on. Farewell, Steven Williams.
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From today's paper:

WILLIAMS. - The Funeral Service for Steven James Williams, of Menzies Creek, will be held at Lilydale Memorial Park, 126 - 128 Victoria Road, Lilydale (Melways ref: 280 D11) on WEDNESDAY (June 16) at 11.00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to World Vision (Ethiopia, supporter no. 3138336). Envelopes will be available at the Service.
kirby1024: Kirbinator Icon (half-my face, half-terminator face) (Default)
This morning I listened to a voice message from my friend David Allen. Apparently he'd been trying to get in touch with me for a couple of days because he had some really important information that he wanted to give me in person. My friend, Steven Williams, killed himself a couple of days prior. David told me that his mother had asked that I be told, mainly because I visited him in hospital after his previous attempt.

More than anything else? I'm angry at the world right now. I'm angry that a good friend of mine, a friend that I had always enjoyed the company of, and of whom I had good memories of, is now gone, forever. I'm angry that, whatever help he was getting, what supports he'd gotten in place since the last attempt, clearly hadn't helped. I'm angry that I'd thought he was recovering, when he hadn't. I'm angry more than anything else because yet again the world has taken someone I loved away from me, and it's so fucking unfair.

I want to sit down and remember the good times. I want to do that poignant post where I sit down and remember all the good memories and impressions I had of the man, but right now I can't get past the fact that I'm going have to attend my second funeral in as many months, that I liked Steven and that he was one of my favourite people in Korner and now he's gone, that I will never know why he's gone, if there was anything that triggered it, if there was anything I could have done if I'd have known at all, and it's all just goddamn fucking unfair.

To be fair, I've only known about this for about 4 hours. I'm still working through my feelings about this. I feel a bit useless because I'm coming to this late, and still don't actually have all the details. I plan to call people later on tonight, so I can get more details, find out what's going on, if the funeral has been planned, etc.

For the time-being there's not a lot I can do except try and work through the grief, and that's what this post is kinda for, I guess.
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Last night, my Dad gave me news that I was not really expecting - I was told that my Uncle Michael had been found in his apartment, close to death. He told me that they had revived him, and that he was in intensive care, but he had almost died several times that day, and it didn't look like he was going to wake up, even if they kept him alive. In short, Dad said, it wasn't looking good for him to survive for very much longer.

And this morning, my Mum called me up to let me know that Michael had died during the night.

Today I have been giving myself a day to actually try and process my feelings towards my Uncle Michael, since I know that if I don't do it soon, it's likely to cause problems down the track. I have this trick, that I'm so very good at dodging my mind that I can just not think about issues in my life. But I know that's unhealthy, and I want to talk about this. So, I write this, my tribute to my Uncle Michael and Me.

I've often called my Uncle Michael my "crazy uncle", and I use the term with all the affection in the world. He was a role model of sorts to me in my youth, an academic in academia, incredibly intelligent and well spoken. He was a parapsychologist, one of the few operating in Australia. For most of my memory of him, he was even getting paid as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Adelaide. When I was in high school and when I was in university, I would always keep track of his latest academic developments. In a way, I was something of a fan of his work, and every now and then, he would send me articles that he thought I might find interesting.

My memories of interactions with my uncle are mostly from when I was younger. Early in his career, my Uncle was a Latin scholar, and I recall when I was quite young, my Uncle would try and teach me bits of Latin. At the time, my love of languages had not quite evolved, and I never paid terribly much attention. That said, I still tried my hardest - he was my uncle, and I loved him dearly. I remember a lot of discussions with him on various topics, although my being younger typically meant I was the one learning from him.

Although he was an incredibly intelligent person, that came with it's own side-effects. My parents saw a lot of my uncle in me, including a not terribly brilliant set of social skills. I had a tendency of looking down my nose at people when I talked to people, and didn't realise as a kid that it showed as a sense of superiority. I'm glad for those warnings, I think my ability to interact with people is much better now.

I remember often talking to my friends about my uncle. What my uncle did was incredibly interesting, and was always something we could discuss. There was one conversation in Korner, between me and [livejournal.com profile] shemjaza, about how, if I'd been around in the 1920s, I'd so be a Pulp action character, with my famous Uncle into weird phenomena, me the linguist in training, and him being funded by the Bial Foundation, which sounded so very much like some shadowy organisation for good. I'd be swept away from my university lifestyle to accompany my uncle on daring adventures!

My feelings about my Uncle's death are... mixed, as you'd expect after just a day of being told. Above all, I miss him so. I haven't seen a great deal of him in the past couple of years, but the fact that he was around was always in my head. A relative that I had so much time and interaction with, someone who has been around my entire life is gone, and I think I'm still trying to adjust my view to that. I feel so terribly sad for him, and for my Grandpa and Grandma, who now have the task of burying their son, something which I can only imagine the pain and sorrow of. I worry about my uncles and my Dad, all of whom have lost a brother.

And I think of all the interactions that were yet to come, that I thought I had all the time in the world to go through. He had just recently joined Facebook, and I never got to see how he would use it. I wanted so badly for him to meet [personal profile] erinkyan, who also wanted to see him so very much. I wanted to see him one last time, although maybe that one is just because I feel robbed of an opportunity to say goodbye to him. Of all the things that I'm writing here, that's the feeling that makes me cry - the last time I said goodbye to him was two years ago. I'm such a different person now than I was two years ago, that I feel that he's lost the chance to see me as I am now. I think he would be proud, at the very least happy, to see the kind of person I have become, and I hate that I no longer have the opportunity to show him that.

Rest in Peace, Uncle Michael, You have lived a great life, with a family that loved you, so much, and you are missed, so very, very much.

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