by Mark Chmiel
from Part Three, The Book of Mev
Monday 5 February 1996
And so. Three weeks ago, we buried Mev. So we did. So she is gone. Vanished. Not palpable. Or at least, most of the time.
I think I’ve been pretty good at telling you over the course of the months what was expressed in yesterday’s homily, namely, as far as my theology goes, such as it is, you have been Christ, you showed me that, yeah, it’s maybe, likely that God is love, because you are love, you loved Mev, you loved us, and therefore you are in and of God. Shocking, isn’t it? If you are in and of God, I wouldn’t sweat so much my paper for the American Academy of Religion.
But Mev summoned you. And you responded. And with a delicacy and determination intertwined, you made your mark, you left your mark, for as Mev deteriorated, of this I am sure: she knew you loved her, and she loved you.
Such is the mystery you and I share — for you may wonder, “why did Mev choose me to accompany her on this via dolorosa?” And I often wonder, how and why did Mev choose me with whom to share the rest of her earthly days? But not to get too cocky, Mev chose us and we were so wonderfully, thoroughly loved. And trusted. Mev entrusted herself to us in ways that she didn’t to others, and I don’t mention this to be invidious or to short-change others’ marvelous contributions. Not at all. But from my vantage point, a quite all too fallible point, that’s the way it looked and looks to me.
And though you, too, messed up royally at times, you exuded a simple, strong grace which I think evoked the same from Mev, from me, from Evie, and from so many others who have said to me something roughly as follows, “You know, since coming over to your apartment, I really want to get to know Angie. I mean, I’ve known her for years but never realized what a gem she is.”
You gave us so much and I know you know this and are amazed at your own capacity for change and for endurance and for stick-to-it-iveness, as I have been amazed and gratified. For you were a proverbial Rock of Gibraltar, you embodied love in action, such tenderness, such vital vigilance, such bodhisattva beauty in extremis at 4525 Arco.
I knew I wanted you to do something special at Mev’s funeral — so along with her oldest, best friend Teka, I wanted you to share whatever you wanted about the time, the trauma, the treat, the terror, the triumph that was your experience with Mev. And I am grateful so much for your willingness to give a voice to that depth that was nurtured in you over many months. On such a cold day three weeks ago.
But as much as was obvious to me how Mev keyed into you and you into Mev, I also want to say thanks for sharing the most heart-breaking time of my life, for you made it easier, more able to bear. You let me swoon over the wonder of all things Irish, you did my dirty work of phone calling running interference so I wouldn’t have to waste energy on vexing encounters, you saved Mev and me many more conflicts over the medications by taking that on and doing it with such fastidious care, and then your Noble Peace Prize efforts at dealing with the pain patch! Your ability to josh and joke with me, your presence — silent, absorbent, chastened — when Mev and I were working through the shit and soaring in the delight of marriage amidst these trials, I could go on for pages, you know this, don’t you? Such was how you inserted your life into ours and you touched and helped to heal and lighten my gradually breaking soul.
You are a wonder. You have my deepest gratitude for the literally countless ways you accompanied us, a journey that will continue with Mev’s absence. Ah, you know how to love, and in my own schlimielish way, I love you, too.