Stories of My Friend M2022-03-29
CW: Grief, Death / Background
One year ago today, one of my best and longest friends passed away suddenly. This is a eulogy I never got to give.
We told stories, my friend M and I. All sorts of stories, over and over, for almost 10 years: stories of fantastical places, stories of our lives, stories about us telling stories, stories with friends.
There’s a saying we have in Judaism when someone has passed away: Zichrona Livracha (זכרונה לברכה)1. It means "may her memory be a blessing” – one of the myriad forms of "nobody is truly ever dead, as long as we keep telling their stories”. In that spirit, I’d like to tell you a bit about M, tell you pieces of her story, with some meandering miscellaneous lore along the way2.
I don’t remember the exact moment I first met M, but I can tell you for certain it was at university, in one of two places: a Science Fiction Society (SFS) meeting, or in the Octawedge. The Octawedge was not, contrary to its name, wedge-shaped – rather, it was an octagonal room in the campus center, a replacement "hanging out area” for SFS folks, the old "wedge"3 having been deprecated long since. SFS folks would hang out there, clustered around Rounds4 in large, comfy chairs by the fireplace, hacking on personal projects, working on homework, debating sci-fi, telling stories, or generally just being around each other.
M was very active in the SFS – she was what one might call a classic High Nerd: she could debate Tolkien at length, tell you all about her favorite classic X-men comics. She loved Inu-Yasha & The Last Unicorn, Elf Quest and fanfics, Star Trek & the video game Pharaoh. She could regale you with stories about different types of LARPs, or modern, slightly tongue-in-cheek retellings of Jewish myths. She was also a rocket scientist5, roboticist, and software developer, as well as multi-time SFS officer6. In addition to all that, she was a wonderful friend, always ready with advice if I wanted it or ways to cheer me up if I was down.
While I met M via the SFS, I suspect the point at which we became fast friends was via a tabletop RPG. M’s boyfriend (now husband), A, and I had already been in a different RPG together & knew each other from the SFS, and so when A decided to run a new Eberron-based DnD game, I signed up, along with our mutual friend, D. From then on, I spent many a weeked at A & M’s apartment, eating takeout7, playing DnD, telling stories, and basking in the presence of M’s glorious cat, nicknamed The Floof8.
Life progressed after uni, but storytelling stayed constant – A & M got married at an amazing Steampunk-themed wedding, and A, M, D, & I played DnD afterwards (A & M actually met in another game run by D, and started dating in-game before doing so IRL). A & M lived pretty close to me, so I’d often spend weekends at their apartment. M would give A & me little grocery "quests”, with silly doodles & puns as "quest rewards”. We’d go out to eat or cook9 in10, play games, watch movies, and debate all sorts of things11.
And, of course, we continued to tell stories: A’s & D’s games both continued, and we added a Shadowrun game run by A & M to the mix to fill spaces between the others. Even when I moved to CA, we continued to tell our stories online, and I’d occasionally fly back and crash at their apartment for a week, working during the week and then having a marathon game session all weekend.
I’d like to say we got to see how the grand, sprawling epic fantasy story that A wrote ended, to say that our characters retired happily in Shadowrun, having worked out all their mysterious pasts and life goals, I’d like to say that A & M finished saving the world from the consequences of saving the world the last time in D’s game. But those of you who play know: runners rarely get to ever retire, not every hero makes it through the final confrontation with the BBEG alive, and, unfortunately, sometimes players suddenly have their stories cut short. One year ago today, M passed away, suddenly, in the middle of the night.
There’s so many more stories I could tell you about M: about how she hated spoilers with the fiery passion of a thousand suns; about how she earned her SFS officer nickname of God Shampoo; about how, after getting her US citizenship, she wanted to celebrate the most ridiculously stereotypically American way she could think of: eating burgers & going shooting. I could tell about the times she & A dropped everything and drove 40 minutes to take me out to dinner when I had a rough day. Alas, there’s only so many places to stick anecdotes in a blog post before it becomes oversaturated.
All those stories, however, all the stories we shared, live on, whether they be epic game moments, goofy IRL stories, or any other myriad of wonderful times. When I think back on those stories, I smile; when our friend group regale each other with the stories, we laugh. And in this I think, I can say, for certain: to me, M’s memory is a blessing.
often just z”l or ז״ל
one of the things M could discuss at length was Tolkien, so I’m sure the meandering lore would be fine 😉
which was, in fact, wedge-shaped
varying-sized odd cylindrical tables
I mean this somewhat literally: she studied aeronautics, and eventually got a PhD in it
As you might ascertain by that list, M had an aura of Getting Shit Done.
this was how I discovered that Indian food was, in fact, delicious
The Floof was also known as Chicha (formal), The Cheech (semi formal), and a myriad of other appellations. She was a beautiful long haired ragdoll with zero sense of depth. At one apartment, she would run in circles around us while we played & then shoot off down a hallway like a particle accelerator, only to be stopped by an unfortunately placed door.
M loved my beer Mac and Cheese recipe, so it was not uncommon for it to Be Declared that we were having mac & cheese when A came to pick me up
Once, A & I covered their kitchen with drying pasta. M got home, sighed, shook her head, and then rounded us up to go out for dinner
M was also Jewish, so we did a good deal of Jewish arguing, which drove A nuts. He eventually learned to appreciate Jewish arguing… like 2 years ago.