Paul Di Filippo (pgdf) wrote in theinferior4,
Paul Di Filippo

Message from Michael Bishop on Jamie

Mike Bishop writes to his friend Jack Slay:

Dear Jack,

Please let everyone know that we suffered an Internet outage here and that I'm replying
from the house of a friend of Steffi's, after Steffi, her mother from Germany, our
Stephanie, our son-in-law Bridger, Jeri, and I spent about three hours at McCoy's Funeral
Home taking turns being with the returned body of our husband, son-in-law, brother,
brother-in-law, and son, Jamie, whom the employees of McCoy, without using any extreme
measures (for we had forbidden them to), had cleaned up, dressed in clothes of Jamie's
own, and laid out on a gurney in a quiet parlor. These individual and group viewings were
tremendously cathartic, and I was grateful that the gunshot wound that killed Jamie,
apparently almost immediately, was one to his chest.

Had he been facially mutilated, I could not have brought myself to behold that wound, and
seeing him looking so much himself, awaiting somebody's encouragement to awake and go out
with us all, comforted me and most of the others a great deal. Steffi, his wife, spent
the most time with him, as she should have done, of course, but all six of us, along with
three close friends, took real solace from these several emotional visits. It was hard to
leave him there, for now his hair will be shaved to make wigs for young cancer patients
and his body -- upon which we all laid hands, massaged, or kissed, or all of these things
-- will be cremated according to his wish. Steffi will receive his ashes and commit them
to an urn.

I can't write much more. Stephanie needs the computer, but you are welcome to share this
message with the community. The scene I've just described marks the climax of a difficult
week (as everyone already knows, by a compassionate intuition from which we have benefited
even here in Blacksburg), and because of it, we are almost ready to come home and to
resume our lives, uplifted by our memories of Jamie and by the extraordinary support of
friends and loved ones from all over. Jack, thanks for your prayers, your tears, and your
heartbreaking empathy, and I say these same words to everyone who has written, e-mailed,
or called, even as I beg everyone to excuse me for limiting my individual responses over
the next two days. There is still work to do. And more tears to shed. And more stories
to share.


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