The week after Ayem Willing passed away, I headed down to FetFest on a day pass. Three days earlier I had been at the LeatherMan in NYC, and bought hankies, in one of his favorite colors of pink. He liked so many colors of pink.
Lochai led the wake, which became partly memorial… tears, laughter, stories, sorrow, joy. Hearts heavy, hearts light, folks who never knew him with hearts enlightened.
Strips of paper wove in. Messages and memories, tales and stories, private moments of grief, private smiles.
Stories blur. His generosity. His smile. His ninja arrival skills.
Kiss me through the stories. Hold me. Let me hold you, fingers slipping by. Memories slipping by. Timelines slipping through. Because as time passes, I have come to realize how much he was never mine, and I was never his. And yet we were, and are, and thumbprints are left upon the clay of my heart.
The next day, sun beating down, I take the red rope that I bound him in the week before. Lines go over frames, sub beating down. Bound, flipped, hanging, I blindfold myself.
Breathe in the grass. Dig down deep. Tears that never were wash away into the dirt. Into the clay. Thumbprints remembered. Laughter and stories, sorrows and imperfection.
None of us are perfect. Lift us not up on pedestals.
Smiles was across my memory, as I try to get myself down. Knots lock. I remember ShibariCon, when the knots locked. His body, upside down, crucified by my hands. In red rope. I am in red rope. The sun beats down. My body heaves under the weight of it all.
A week later, The Crucible, DC. A second wake, a second memorial. I am in leathers. Beyond being a furry and rope slut, he was a leatherman. I remove my cover, carry in under one arm, in respect.
Hands shake hands turn hugs and memories. I hand over hankies to his brothers, his biological brothers who came out to the wake.
They had always known… he just was not out to them. Scared to be out to them. They knew, but gave him space.
Over the next two days we pour through memories. Stacks of blue jeans and toys never used. Boots and gifted blades. We hold them up and laugh. Or blink. We tell stories, share the secrets that only those who held him tight ever knew. We grumble and bitch and rant and laugh again. Uncover frustrations, delight in each others company, eat sushi, bear witness to the next generation. We try on sweaters, pack up bags, donate bags to charity.
This is the face of mourning.
Wearing his shirt. Ropes hanging. Jokes and silent truths. Laughter and tears that will not quite come. I hold him tight, and let him go. In all his beauty, in all his imperfection. I let him go, and hold him softly to my breast.