Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
To rock my soul
- “Brokedown Palace,” The Grateful Dead
Last week I learned Evi died. She was a friend from college whose acquaintance did not transcend the time and distance of the past 20 years. I am filled with the regret and melancholy that accompanies missed opportunities for one last conversation, a chance to share another moment on this short world walk.
I learned about Evi’s death from my best friend who texted me an “In Memory” page from our sorority newsletter. It was bittersweet serendipity, as Evi was the reason I joined the house in the first place.
Evi was the antithesis of the sorority girl stereotype, more likely to wear a tie-dyed Grateful Dead t-shirt with dancing bears than a pink sweatshirt with Greek letters, but she believed in community and saw the potential to create a diverse, feminist, communal presence within a system often characterized by its monoculture. Together we “took back the night” and marched with NOW, encouraging each other and our sisters to identify and address women’s issues and concerns including date rape and equal pay. We spent many late nights discussing the state of the world, philosophy, and social justice. I would give anything to hear her take on current events.
What added to my sadness over her passing was that Evi died more than a year ago. I guess I thought there would be a shift in the Universe, a cosmic jolt, when someone with her energy, her passion moved on from this plane. Maybe there was and I missed it, or attributed it to something else. Thankfully there is Google now, and I was able to find her beautifully written obituary.
I was brought to tears by the heartbreaking details of the journey leading up to Evi’s passing: “In her final week, there was immediate hope with a plan supported by everyone who cared about her and her willingness to accept the help she needed. Evi chose to proceed on her inner journey on her own terms. She spent her last days seeking her own path to a new beginning. She did not survive her process. We might never know Evi's mind or intent, but we feel her absence acutely.”
So often we pass along copies of funny, quirky or bitter obituaries. I think Evi’s memorial is not just touching, but important and empowering for the thousands of families who lose a loved one to mental illness. I am grateful for her family’s transparency of love, bewilderment, and grief in honoring Evi’s life, struggles, and death.
Fare you well, Evi.