A Soulful New Years Eve

This year, The Anti-Poverty Organizer and I decided to host a new years eve fondue party for our lovely Vancouver circle of friends. This is a jolly little group that has been gathering on the year’s last night for almost a decade. Usually, The Feminist Lawyer graciously hosts, but for good reason, she wasn’t up to it this year.

We had no idea what kind of party it would be. Peter, a beloved, urbane community organizer who had been part of that annual ritual, had passed away just a month earlier. Ziggy and Catherine, The Blue-Eyed Stranger’s dear friends, had also recently moved into the light. The Bird Watcher’s mother died unexpectedly a few weeks earlier. The Queer Organizer’s ma had passed away just that morning.

I bought a huge amount of cheese and chocolate. I figured if no one showed the stuff would keep, and anyways, it was important to keep the faith.

The Queer Organizer showed up first. She brought her raucous laugh with her, but she seemed fragile; we made sure to keep her wineglass full. When The Bird Watcher and The Conceptual Artist arrived, looking devastated and relieved, I poured vodka shots and toasted to the dead (it’s a Ukrainian thing). The Bird Watcher insisted we toast to the living, too, and so we did.

There was a lot of life in that room that night. Everyone ate and talked and even sang, with enormous gusto. We took on all the great cheezy (no pun intended) musicals. Turns out, The Feminist Lawyer, who perhaps misses Peter more than any of us, has a lovely voice. We’d never heard her sing before.

But, like the alto in a four-part harmony that you have to strain to hear, I could feel the spirits of the dead that night, too. Their persistent backbeat made everything taste,feel, and sound richer, deeper, and more resonant.

The Anti-Poverty Organizer said later: People. Felt Safe. Enough. To. Be. Sad.

Here’s to the memory of our friends and our friends’ loved ones.

And here’s to a delicious, mindful, creative, and fully lived new year.

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