A Complex Grief

When you have a complicated personal history with a community icon.

Most, if not all of us, will leave behind a complicated legacy when we pass from this Earth. In all lives lived there are mistakes, triumphs, missed opportunities, grudges, passions, heartbreak, disappointments, inadequate parenting (received and/or given), and more. People will remember us (or be determined to forget us) for a variety of reasons. But I think the most complicated legacies are those left by people who do great things creatively, or devote themselves to a cause or community, but who struggle in their personal lives (for whatever reason).

Those who create and struggle in the larger arenas generally attract people to them who admire their work but who may expect the greatness of the work to have an exact correspondence to the character of the human being. However it doesnʻt always work that way. Or it may work that way sometimes but not others. Itʻs true that expansive vision and tireless service can co-exist with pettiness or cruelty in the same human being. Or maybe I donʻt need to use an example that is that extreme to make my point–maybe itʻs simply that tireless service (for example) can also co-exist with laziness in intimate relationships or forgetfulness when it comes to filing taxes on time.

You get the idea. Weʻre a mix. Weʻre all of us a mixture of good, bad, and indifferent qualities and we show different faces to different people, who are also turning their own curated personality facets toward us. But what happens when someone you once knew very, very well–and who may have even done you great harm–becomes an icon to a community?

And when that person dies, who do you turn to to help to understand the truth of your own relationship to that person? Must all secrets be told? Of course not. But must the lived reality of an interaction, or a long-term relationship, be denied for the sake of the community who wants to keep the iconic personage pure and golden?

Style: “1768589_vol2”

It seems like most people would rather erase the person or people who may have had a less than golden time with said icon rather than say: “Well, he, she, or they were human. They made mistakes. They did good things. They tried.”

Iʻve had a couple of intimate relationships with historically significant partners in my life, both brilliant human beings who also had their foibles and their follies–just as I have mine–and who also inflicted some great hurts on me and others. Iʻve also had relationships with people who were less well known, but also difficult (as I am difficult), but also beloved within their circle of friends for very good reasons. So unless weʻre the kind of person who enjoys living with bitterness, we tend to remember the good times and excuse the bad when a person passes from our lives or from this Earth. And yet I think we should be allowed sometimes to “speak ill” of the dead (or the ex)–not to the point of gossip or talking stink in a toxic way–but in the context of trying to sort out feelings of grief (and sometimes relief) when that person is no longer in your life.

I am struggling with some of these issues myself at the moment. Fortunately there is one other person I can talk with who has experienced some of the same things Iʻve experienced. We are able to acknowledge the full spectrum of behaviors and responses in our intereactions with a person we know in common and understand the complexities of our grief (and perhaps relief?) as a result.

I donʻt know how I would be handling things right now if this werenʻt the case.

That is all.


50,000 All-time Views

My humble “woo blog” has had this many readers?!

Allow me to celebrate! Often when I write I feel as if I’m sending my words and thoughts into a “black hole,” and that no one reads or cares. Yes, of course I do check my stats from time to time, and am happy that this blog finds its way to readers in many countries, but I would have never known Lady of the Lake would garner this kind of visibility.

Of course, I don’t know how many of these views are repeat readers or “just stumbled over it” readers. Even so, this notification has lifted my spirits in a personally difficult week.

All I can say is “thank you!” (Thank you… thank you!)

More Haiku for Trancestors

A few days ago I wrote twelve haiku for twelve people who are no longer with us and who are being remembered and honored for Transgender Day of Remembrance. Last night, I wrote fifteen more. I wrote each haiku through looking at pictures and bios of our remembered dead, and tried to connect to the life-affirming details about each person, in order to emphasize who they were rather than write about the details of their often horrific deaths.

Some references which may seem obscure, like the “Knight and Orchid gent” for Mel Robert Groves, are specific personal references to an interest, organization, or description of the person. In Mel Groves’ case, this is an organization.

Transponder, our local transgender rights organization, has asked community volunteers to write brief bios and/or haiku to acknowledge each one of the sixty-eight transgender and non-binary people who died violently in the U.S. between Oct. 2021 and the end of September 2022. These bios and haiku will be recorded and read for our local Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th.

Here are the haiku.

3. Mel Robert Groves, age 25

Look into the eyes

Of Mister Mel Robert Groves

Knight and Orchid gent!

22. Duval Princess, age 24

Sweet Duval Princess,

You sure were kown and beloved.

Your family cries.

23. Matthew Ventriss, age 29. (Formerly known from a reality TV show as Destinee Lashaee. Both names are used on the TDOR site.)

“Surrounded by tears,”

He struggled bravely onward.

Wish him peace and rest.

25. Naomie Skinner, age 25

Naomie Skinner,

“Very outstanding person.”

Cherished, fabulous.

26. Cypress Ramos, 21

Trans Latina star,

“Friend, a sister, a daughter,”

Shines bright, remembered.

28. Brent Wood, 31

This artist lived rough,

On the cold Seattle streets.

Friends speak of his love.

36. Ariyanna Mitchell, 17

Never dull, always smiles,

well-known as “the dance machine,”

Unique, funny, loved.

40. Asher Garcia, 14

Music was his world.

He loved his family, friends.

“Sweet, kind, loving soul.”

41. Ray Muscat, 24

Remembered for smiles,

Kindness, cosplay, anime.

He loved his cat, Steele.

43. Sasha Mason, 45

Sasha a friend to many,

You gave light and you gave joy.

We will say your name.

55. Jasper Aaron Lynch, 26

Critical thinker,

Seeking human connection,

With a writer’s wit.

56. Martasia Richmond, 30

Mystery of life–

We see your smiling eyes here,

But know so little.

59. Hayden Nevah Davis, 28

Dear Hayden Davis,

You had dreams to make beauty

Happen all around.

61. Marisela Castro, 39

Bright and sunny smile,

Marisela liked to sing.

Friends called her happy.

67. Tiffany Banks, 25

Dancing butterfly,

The bright light in a dark day.

Sociable, lovely.

Haiku for Trancestors

Transponder, our local transgender rights organization, has asked community volunteers to write brief bios and/or haiku to acknowledge each one of the sixty-eight transgender and non-binary people who died violently in the U.S. between Oct. 2021 and the end of September 2022. These bios and haiku will be read aloud for our local Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th.

This morning I sat down and wrote haiku for twelve people who are no longer with us. The text came from my impressions from photographs and/or what was written and said about them and their lives.

#4. Tayda Lebon

A vibrant, stellar,

Inspirational artist,

No one will forget.

#16. Martina Caldera, age 38

Martina, your smile!

Kindness shines in your brown eyes

A light sadly gone.

#17. Za’niyah Williams, age 21

Beauty, you are rich,

Brimful rich with golden joy.

Your smile lights the room.

#18. Ke’yahonna Stone, age 32

True heart, battle brave,

Strong in peace, protecting life,

Giving hers instead.

#21. Amerey Lej, age 19

Your legacy lives.

Lady Diamond dance bright,

Your name is spoken.

#24. Matthew Angelo Spampinato, age 21

“A breath of fresh air,

Bright, kind, headstrong and selfless.”

He didn’t give up.

#29. Milo Winslow, age 30

“Loved, deeply loving,

Fierce advocate,” supporting,

His community.

#37. Fern Feather, age 29

Sweet, weird, fun-loving,

Life-loving, artist of food,

Adored by all her friends.

#38. Ace Scott, age 15

Your eyes are so full,

You had a lot to tell us.

Dear one, rest now. Love.

#57. Toi Davis, age 34

Toi cared for others:

“Transition has saved my life.”

Her faith lit her path.

#62. Acey D. Morrison, age 30

Two-spirit Acey

Opened her home and her heart.

Laughter medicine.

#66. Serena Brenneman, age 16

“Quirky, kind, stylish,

Beautiful, elegant, soft.”

Bless her memory.

I might write more, if the organization needs more. They are not emotionally easy to do, but the writing does seem to come easily, if that makes sense. Update: I did write fifteen more. See this page, More Haiku for Trancestors.

Airing the Dirty Family Laundry

There’s a reason I’m making documents public that would usually remain private. I was never allowed to live in the apartment bequeathed to me by my uncle. Otherwise, I am not commenting, just exhibiting the documents.