February 6, 2010, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yesterday I found out that my roommate, the one I was living with this time last year, died. The funeral was today. They mentioned, during it, that over the eight to ten months since I’d moved out she had been progressively more depressed. I knew things weren’t totally okay when I left and from the sporadic contact we had. She had seemed so disconnected.

The funeral was as many funerals are. Often disatisfying. Deeply sad. Punctuated by moments of quiet beauty. At the end, a church full of people sang the song she had walked down the aisle to when she got married a few years before, led by a choir of her friends and colleagues.

If I’m being honest, I’m angry. At her husband for how much pressure he put her under and the position he put her in. I know this isn’t the socially appropriate response and I’m supposed to feel deep sympathy all around and not blame anyone. But I lived with her and saw how much she loved him and what she gave up to try and make him happy. How he was totally blind to what she wanted and pressured her to do things that were causing her unfathomable stress. She had unwavering faith in his blind ambition. She gave everything up and he wouldn’t give anything up. And at some point, in this stretch of long harsh winter, everything broke down.

K grew up in poverty, the daughter of a single mom on government assistance and had spent her post-secondary life devoted to making women’s lives better – women who were like her mom. She organized things in this city that have changed the lives of many women, with the kind of practical view that comes from actually knowing the people you were trying to reach. What they would want. How to get them to come in. She had something so special to offer the world and now it’s cut short. People talked about the full life she’d lived and how she’d packed in more than most people do. Whether this is true or not, it was still cut short. She was one of the few crusaders I actually deeply respected for what she’d been able to do; her work wasn’t token art show and champagne patronage that people in professional schools come to believe is charitable good work.

It’s still very hard to believe she’s gone.


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