I took it upon myself to act as Voice Warden for my friend elisem, threatening to sit upon her if she should whisper to the many well-wishers and sympathetic friends. She is suffering from the loss of her Mike and her voice. Nothing I can do can bring her Mike back, but I could do that little bit to return her voice.
The wake was wonderful; rooms full of people enjoying each other's company and their memories of Mike. Food was plentiful and varied with everything from barbecue potato chips and grenadine to chicken briyani to all manner of sweets and chocolate. I appreciated the latter especially because one of the ways that My Tribe deals with grief is through the consumption of sweets. There was drink aplenty as well. At least four bottles of scotch were consumed and a good deal of Irish whiskey as well. There was music and laughter, one memorable moment of the combination being the singing of "Puking in the Heather," an Irish folk song inspired by an off-hand comment of Mike's at a convention long ago. It showed, skzbrust opined, that not all of Mike's legacies were positive ones.
I find myself grieving in a way I did not expect that I would. Mike was a friend, but I am closer to those that were close to him that I was to he, himself. He was nothing but kind and genial to me, even if I would occasionally call him "John," but I cannot say that he thought of me as a friend. I feel a loss, but I cannot understand why it should affect me as deeply as it does. Perhaps it is because, as mgs remarked to me at memorial reception, that Mike was the first of "us," the local social group of science fiction fans, to leave. That his departure signals the start of a slow trickle of loss that will come to us over the next many years.
For whatever reason, Mike's loss is felt deeply by so many and will continue to be so. I have not the skill to give words to these feelings. I trust Mike understands and imagine that there would be a poem of great beauty if he were here to write it.