Status: Still Kinda Sucky
But first, some background stemming from something that is the Opposite of Sucky...
I'm seeking all sorts of distraction, and so I just finished reading a second draft of Gwen's novel. (No kinna hurra here, folks, but seriously- The Book? Is *so* good.) Knowing Gwen as I do, and remembering the last 15 years of her life as well as I do, one of my favorite things about this book is that I can tell, for the most part, she made it all up. She has created a family, a home, a whole other world, really, almost entirely from her imagination. It's great. There's a name here, and a phrase there, but other than that, it's a damn good work of fiction. It makes me wonder who else might be living in her imagination, and I can't wait to meet them in whatever she writes next.
Gwen's characters stay with you throughout your day. They start to feel like people you know. Without giving too much away, one of the characters is working through the aftermath of a very violent experience. We see a few of this character's friends- college activist types- any of whom could have been my women's studies friends in college.
Veering away from fiction now, every year about this time, my college hosted a speak-out for survivors of violence. Someone I Love very much had something to say, and then one year- Someone I Love said it. At first, SIL sat in the audience and held my hand- and Someone Else's hand, too- and refused our offers to stand beside her at the microphone.
When SIL got up there and faced the crowd, the tears began to fall. SIL turned to me and SE and said, "I lied. I need you up here after all." SE and I immediately scooted out of our seats and ran up, saying, "Yup, yup, here we come!" We raced up the aisle and enveloped her in a big bear hug. To my surprise, I felt one, two, three, four-five-six-seven bodies pile on top of us, a football tackle of feminists.
I lifted my head out of our huddle for a moment when I realized the audience had burst into spontaneous applause, and then there was Stephen, one of only five men at the event, shyly jogging up the aisle to support Someone He Loves Too, arms outstretched from the sleeves of his trench coat, his toes turned out as he blushingly made his way up the aisle, and I fell a little bit more in love with him for it. We sat on the stage in a line, SIL holding my hand as I held Stephen's and he held the next girl's. And the next year, SIL stood up there, proud and tranquil, and on her own.
Gwen's book only briefly touches on something like this, but something about it is emotionally provocation enough to help me see that that's what I miss most about Stephen. At least today anyway.