Monday, August 31, 2009

Farewell Mimma

Life is full of difficult decisions and often one is left wondering about the choices made. My day today has been a difficult one. On Saturday I really wanted to attend the funeral of a woman who I both liked and admired. We knew each other for years, saw each other seldomly, admired each other liberally. I had heard a rumour that she was unwell but even so the email that arrived telling me that Mimma had died took me by surprise.

I remember her when we were both pups, starting out. She went on to take the helm of an agency in Toronto. She called me one day, out of the blue, shortly after becoming the executive director to tell me about a evening of theatre being put on by people with disabilities from the Meta Centre. I told her how thrilled I was with the idea and I remember a wonderful evening. What impressed me about that night was the fact that the performers with disabilities were clearly fully involved in the writing and the performance. One skit, about teasing and bullying, about the love of family, has stayed with me to this very day.

Too, Mimma called me to do some training for her and we had a wonderful day with wonderful staff. She had a passion for what she did that gave her both direction and vision. Whenever we saw each other, I always saw the girl she was all those years ago. That 'kid' was who I picture now in my mind.

So I wanted to go and mourn. To say goodbye. But I had made a committment to do a session for parents. I could have cancelled. I admit it. I could have asked them to reshedule it. I know they'd have understood. But I simply felt that I needed to follow through. So I did. As it turned out I think the meeting with parents had been a valuable one. But once the glow of that wore off, a quiet regret started to grow in me.

And then all day Sunday. My one day off. I couldn't shake the sense of unshared mourning. I couldn't shake the sense that I'd let her down. That I should have been there. I should have gone and said goodbye. I don't know if I made the right decision. I don't know what to do with the grief I have felt all day.

Fare Thee Well Mimma.

I think I did what you would have done.

Forgive me if I got it wrong.


Brad said...

Well coming from someone who only knows Mimma from your post, I think she'd probably tell you you did the right thing. Helping those parents will help them over their lifetime, I don't think she'd begrudge you for that at all.

wendy said...

That's a tough position to be in. You made a good decision. Now you need to let yourself off the hook for having made it, I think.

I'm sorry for you loss.

Eileen said...

What you did was the biggest tribute to Mimma you could have made. She would have appreciated your commitment to the families you work with - it's a commitment you share.

You did right and I'm sure Mimma would not have wanted it any other way.

Now you and some other friends of Mimma need to get together to share stories, cry and laugh, share your loss and celebrate her contribution.

Take care

Kristin said...

I think you made a good decision and, from what you said, I believe Mimma would have supported you.

I am so sorry for your loss.

ivanova said...

You probably would be feeling bad somehow either way, the day after her funeral, whether you were there or not. I expect you would be grieving even if you had gone. She sounds like an amazing woman. Thanks for telling us about her.

Anonymous said...

Grief is so personal and yet so universal.Mimma sounds like a wonderful woman so I'm sure she would approve of your sense of committment to your work. Do something specific in her honour, something joyful as she sounds like that kind of person,

Lee said...


Anonymous said...

I have been a lurker for many months on your website. I have cried after reading your post, I have also laughed, and sometimes - when you have asked - I have made a judgment call on if what you did (or someone else did) was right.

This time you didn't ask. I am a truly sorry for your loss. But, I am also sorry for the loss of Mimma's family who didn't get to hear from you at the funeral.

One time, I had an opportunity to go to the funeral who had taught me dance in my childhood. I didn't go, thinking I would not be missed, but I missed him. I sent a card expressing my condolences and telling a story about him (my dance teacher) and myself. I found myself being invited to the next celebration of his life, the renaming of a hall in his honor.

I guess, what I am trying to say, as a person who has loss so many, those shared stories, hugs, expressions of sympathy mean so much because it means other peopled cared about the person who has passed. That s/he made an impact.

Peace by with you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss Dave... she sounds like a marvelous friend - very passionate - and much like yourself.

If it helps, after volunteering in palliative care for several years, and through my own losses, I've learned that honouring a person's life, and saying goodbye, doesn't have to take place at a funeral or church service. I would imagine what Mimma would say... if she were to read your post. My instinct is that the person you described would be proud of you in finding the strength to hold that meeting. Give yourself credit for everything you are and all of that you do. I hope you are able to find some time this week, or this coming weekend, to say goodbye to Mimma in your own way, for your own peace.


Marria said...

Would there have been anything to forgive should the roles have been reversed?
Sleep well my friend from years ago-with no regrets.

theknapper said...

What I know is there's rarely a "right" answer. I think you honoured her by working and you missed being able to grieve & share with others who loved her. She understood. Take care of your heart.

Brenda said...

I'm about a week behind in my blog readings, so please forgive me for only posting now. First, I'm sorry for your loss. And I'm sorry for our loss. She sounds like the kind of person who made the planet better just by being on it. Second, does she have any remaining family? It strikes me that part of the experience of a funeral and saying goodbye is being able to share with others who knew and loved the person who has gone. Perhaps you could send a letter, and share some of the times you shared with Mimma and how much you admired her. I know that when I lost my Mom, some of the notes and cards I received after the funeral were most treasured because they helped me on my journey of grief that, as we know, continues long after the funeral is over. We each must grieve in our own way, but this is just a thought, and a big ole cyber hug for you.