On August 11, 2008 at around 10:30 in the morning, my dear friend and co-worker Mélaine Lucy Innocent Schrieber passed away.
For a lot of you, you already know this because you’ve asked my why haven’t I written anything about it. It isn’t that I have written about it, I just haven’t shared anything that I’ve written. There are actually several reasons for this. The first was because the following week at the University (August 22 we were holding a memorial service for Mélaine and I wasn’t sure what I was going to say or share, so I didn’t want to have that be read, and then heard again at the service. This week Keith asked if I could send him what I said at the service and a few other things and I didn’t want to post those here until he had a chance to use what he needed for the service in the UK.
Plus to be quite honest, it was still a little raw for me (still is) and with work being what it is I haven’t had a chance to just sit down and process all of the emotion that is bottled up somewhere. So what that means is that next week in the desert outside of Las Vegas while Amber and I are taking pictures (and she’s bugging me to let her have a turn using the real camera), I’m sure I’ll finally let it all out and then she’ll feel bad, and yeah, I’ll get to keep the camera the whole time (not that I’m plotting). I’m working my way through that, so we’ll see how it goes.
I’m almost finished with another “Little Girl” story (you’ve read the first peice as ‘Sunshine and the Storm Cloud [for lack of a better title]). This one was inspired by Mélaine and is called ‘Moving’, so I’ll share that here shortly once its more polished (I typically run things by Michelle and then to someone like Andrea for proof reading – Michelle is my editor of choice as she doesn’t mind ripping apart what I’ve written… but mostly because she more importantly understands what I meant to write even if I’ve forgotten entire words, phrases or thought patterns – she’s awesome like that.
I’ve also written a letter from Ed (aka Edward Duckworth, aka Evil Red Duck of EvilRedDuck.com) to Mélaine that I might share as well… it was mostly for smiles.
All that having been said, one of the things we did do for the memorial (besides plant an Oak tree in Mélaine’s honor) was collect letters written to her to be given to Keith and Jay. This is the letter I wrote.
Dude… honestly? For real? Like what the hell man? I cannot believe that you just up and fled this ball of muck and left the rest of us behind or rather to quote Billy:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make.
I’m going to miss you. I don’t know how else to say it.
I can still recall your interview for the University and how masterfully you flubbed it and the technical demonstration part of the show. But you did it with such grace and poise, that I knew you were the right person for the job. It’s never a matter of knowledge in life but how you handle yourself when life is hard and the water is set to boil. If you can master yourself during those times in life, then the rest is cake.
It is strange to think that I’ve only “known” you for a year. Last week was one year since we went to Madison together. I can still recall sitting there as we prepared ourselves to head out saying, “Listen, I don’t do shallow very well. I’m not good at making small talk, chatting about nonsense and things that are of unimportance. If I’m going to invest time into someone, then it’s going to be something of meaning or I’d rather not do it. So you’ve got two choices, I have an 80gig iPod here filled with a variety of music and we can certainly listen to that the entire time, or we can chat, completely up to you.
And you choose chat. And so we did.
I think we started with how you viewed politics in America verses that in Europe. We talked of jobs past; of the homeless guy in the subway that you used to bring a sandwich to on your way to work at the jewelry shop; life growing up, of your brother and your relationships with your parents. And even though I gave you the caveat of not answering any question I ask (because you know I can pry in my attempt to understand the person), you answered, and I believe honestly.
We talked of what led you to Germany and of meeting Keith. How the things you loved the most about him were the very things that drove you nuts, but they were what you needed most. We talked about what you wanted out of life, favorite songs, music to listen to when you were happy and depressed.
And then we began the whole process again for the 6 and half hour ride home. I still laugh every time I hear that line from the song in Juno, “I had a dream that I had to drive to Madison to deliver a painting for some silly reason, I took a wrong turn and ended up in Michigan.” I’d like to blame it on construction, mislabeled signs, but I know that we were so engrossed in a discussion about Imogen Heap, Macs, Music and a slew of other things that we were both a little shocked to find ourselves in Michigan and needing to find a route that cut across the state. I’d still argue that we should have just taken the extra 20 minutes to head into Ohio since at that point we had already been in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan that day. Oh well, maybe another trip.
I remember giving my arm chair psychoanalysis of you as we drove. Laying all your secrets bare, letting you know why I thought you did the things that you did, why you lived behind a façade, and why you worked as hard as you did. How you looked at me with a little bit of shock as I figured things out and it was at that moment that I got “you” and I realized what a cool person you were.
Michelle and I went back to the pub and had dinner with Nathan. We got seated at the same table you and I did when we (and by we, I mean you) first discovered the place. It was hard to be there knowing that states away (in Ohio), you were dying.
I know that we talked several times on the phone in the last month and that we never said “goodbye”, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. What would we say? I had no undying love to confess. I always told you what I thought of you and how much I appreciated the work that you did. No regrets to share. It wasn’t that I’d left things unsaid, but it still feels that way.
There are always more words. That’s one of the things I think I most enjoyed about you. I loved that we could sit down to do a podcast, a presentation, lecture video and we just made it up together on the spot and it worked as if we had scripted the whole thing before hand.
Writing was the thread I think that bond it all together; our shared joy in writing, phrasing and exploring new voices. Thank you for your kind and honest words that you always offered as we shared pieces back and forth.
Thank you for letting me make you laugh, and for those few times when you showed me your true laughter, not the one that came so quick in most situations, but the one that welled up from inside. The first time I saw it was when I was walking past your office and you were alone and watching ‘DIET the dancing elves’ and you thought no one was around.
Thank you for letting me make you cry, for letting me scale the wall to see the girl behind the statue of professionalism.
Thank you for being a nerd…. and geek, a closet sci-fi Trekie, and a dear friend.
J’étais heureux de vous connaître, fier d’être votre collègue et surtout, honoré pour s’appeler le votre ami. – I am pleased to know you, proud to be your co-worker and above all, honored to be called your friend.
You were a pretty neat chick, and we’ll always have Paris, well at least the garage [pronounced gair-age].
Dude, you better have heaven all mapped out by the time I get there, I don’t want to waste time finding all the cool stuff.
So there you go, a little Thursday afternoon catharsis (which I totally didn’t have to Google to spell correctly, you should be proud, public education does work).