One year ago today, my friend Connie passed away. This poem, published in emerge 17, SFU’s Writer’s Studio Anthology, was written for Connie. I never showed it to her.
Over the years we met regularly for coffee, always getting around to talk of that quiet mania: writing. Spring before last, feeling the need for a shot in our writerly arms, we (essentially) dared each other to try make the cut for Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio.
I knew she’d be a lock. Her last gig was assistant editor at Eighteen Bridges, an upscale literary periodical. For a string of years before that, having previously aced the writing program at Grant McEwan which helped make her a meticulous researcher, she had a popular alternative health column in Vue Weekly (Well, Well, Well). In the meantime she published articles in the Edmonton Journal and Alberta Views. And…in the meantime, lived with and kicked at cancer’s lengthening shadow. Her blog, which is still up, courageously catalogues much of this time.
She received her acceptance letter first, but didn’t tell me, worried, with reason, I didn’t get in. For a while it seemed like this new opportunity/purpose/direction might so focus her as to send her, again, into remission. The “seeming” was short lived. Within a month of her start date she was forced to withdraw.
I never had the courage (was that it?), to show her the poem: it was dark, the images sparse, the overarching metaphor foreboding, the ending bleak. I had written it in hopes of some kind of catharsis. But if I could go back, I’d show it to her. It was not her way to shrink from reality, she had no problem facing what was in front of her. It’s me that had the problem.
For Jeff, Connie’s kids, family and friends. We still miss you Connie.
This memoriam (and award announcement) appears at the back of the anthology: