a death and memory collage

There had been rumours

I’d heard that M had died. At such a relatively young age, death could only have been from disease – M never would’ve been in an accident. It’s not conceivable.

I looked it up, google, facebook and sure enough. Over a year ago, M passed away from lung cancer. In pain but with his family’s support.

He had a family – a few from a few marriages.

Gone but not forgotten. He had been an incredibly paranoid man, highly intelligent, absolutely neurotic. He had the power to cause others to try to make him content, just because his cute smile of delight was so much nicer than his manic rants and attacks if he’d believed that he’d been slighted.

He once offered to teach me how to control others, how to wow them with my pointed cleverness. How to read behind gestures, how to use my findings to manipulate.

An offer that I was dubious about accepting, but still found interesting enough to watch him in action.

I was malleable in those days. I was interested in observing dynamics between sources of power and receivers of its vibrations.

Does that sound cult-ish? Perhaps I was interested in the concept of cult: them vs us

I’d been in a Gurdjieff group in Toronto. I’d seen it in various venues and had experienced the exercises of self-observation and self-remembrance.  I had listened to its leaders and looked at the irony of wrong-doing together with the mantle of being better than.

M was wearing that cloak. His brand of ‘better than’ was a large brand and he wore it with the help of many who chose to surround him.  That group changed over the years but for a while I was amongst them. I did what I could to smooth his day, although I never knew when his bloodshot non-blinking gaze would fall upon me. I never knew what would set off a tirade of psychological analysis from which there was no escape until I’d admit his points or until we all fell down near dawn.

Funny how he named his daughter ‘dawn’ – perhaps he knew that time to be special – to allow for a new way of thinking when the old way was no longer viable.


I now and for some time have been waking up at dawn.

It’s a delicious free zone – no judgment, no demand.

Back in the day when i lived with M and the rest of the gang, dawn was the time when they were sleeping and I was awake in a large house, cool tiled floors, daylight not quite ready to stream in.

I would drink a morning cup of coffee and head up onto the roof to exercise with the first rays of light.

Working my body parts became my daily ritual.

M taught me how to separate between him and me: between what I needed to do to find space for myself and what I needed to do for the collective.

Out of that, I wrote ‘Getting There’ – my own monologue done in dance but more importantly offering me the therapy of finding out what running towards meant to me.

His obsessive compulsive need for cleanliness taught me how to keep outer appearances even when the inner mind was a million miles away from the accepted order.

From that I learned how to maintain spaces – my puppetry workshop, my batik workshop, my voice workshop.

I learned how to explore being different while keeping a framework of ‘same’.

I learned that I loved fabric and dying and creating. I learned that I could only sit still so long before falling into  a daze.

When I knew him, I learned that expression is a large part of joy – no matter what the price.

He’s dead now. He’s left his imprint on a few people.

I guess I’m one.


judih Oct 2013

judih Oct 2013


One thought on “a death and memory collage

  1. I’m re-reading this today, and am impressed with the insights that flowed that day of writing. When a mind pauses to deliberate, deeply considered thoughts are allowed to bubble up.
    – judih

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