She called me Agaluk. I called her MF. Beautiful One. Sweet Butterfly.
I also called her my friend. We were Soul Sisters.
One of my most strongest, steadfast, courageous, creative, bold, brilliant, intelligent, inspiring, wise and wonderful, in every conceivable way, a true Girl Warrior to the core and beyond, died last week.
Receiving the news so abruptly. Incomprehensible. The loss for those who loved her. Immeasurable. The gaping hole in our hearts. Irreparable.
Little Back Story. We met in the most unlikely of places. Old Fort William. Decades ago. Free spirits. Wild hearts. Fierce warriors. Intelligent and introspective young girls on the cusp of becoming the women we are today.
MF and I were from different worlds. She was from Southern Ontario, the part of the province with the big cities and prestigious universities. She was an intellectual. Well-read and world-wise, even then. Sophisticated beyond her years. She was eloquent and articulate.
I often wondered what she saw in me. I was smart enough but by no means an intellectual. I loved reading but in a million years I couldn’t tackle the books MF read. I was far from sophisticated, more of a small-town bumpkin. My speech was typical of the region, with its Scandinavian-Canadian twang, every sentence peppered with the non-word utterance, “eh”. And I was born and raised just across town from where we worked. I was all too familiar with the summer stench and acrid bitterness of the Abitibi Mill.
We managed to stave off adulthood that glorious summer by the shores of the Kaministikquia River.
MF and I were part a ragtag troop of young vagabonds and hippies, who dressed up every day like it was 1815. We worked, and played, in the Tradesman’s Square at Old Fort William.
The young men in The Square worked as blacksmiths, tinsmith, carpenters, coopers, and of course, the birch bark canoe builders. Many came to The Fort with these skills in toe, but by summer’s end they all knew how to handle the tools of their historic trade.
MF and I were among the “Native” wives of these rough and ready Tradesmen. Dressed in traditional garb, with our long hair braided in side pigtails or down our backs, we spent our time hand stitching garments and beading necklaces. We were called Historical Interpreters, which basically meant we told the story of the Fur Trading Post belonging to the North West Company, and the men who worked in The Square. We regaled the flocks of tourists, who streamed in and out of our log buildings, with tales of life in 1815 Northwestern Ontario.
MF and I often worked together in the Tradesman’s sleeping quarters. Between tourist visits, we gabbed endlessly about all the grand things of life, all the while our hands were ever-busy making the wool felt leggings and strands of colorful beads that we wore so ubiquitously.
In this backdrop of historic Old Fort William, our friendship grew. Born out of conversations that were deep and engrossing. Sometimes silly. Often extraordinary. Yet so divinely unforgettable.
MF and I lost track of each other after that summer. There were the occasional blips on the radar. But for the most part we moved on with our lives. It didn’t help that geographically we would end up thousands of miles apart, with MF in Southern Ontario and me on the West Coast.
Then, a few years ago through the wonders of social media, MF reached out to me. First on LinkedIn and then through Facebook.
It was like no time had passed. We picked up where we left off. It was as natural as the flow of the Kaministikquia River. Although many years had passed, and on the surface our personal and professional lives appeared so very different; but in our hearts, and all the places that mattered, we were kin.
It was no surprise to discover we had both spent our lives embracing all things spiritual and creative. We were both wisdom seekers, with love our abiding compass, the beacon in the dark, the light, and the way.
For the past twenty-four hours, I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around MF not being here. In this very physical place we call earth. Then this gentle thought came to me this morning, upon the first delicate rays of early morning sunshine. Like a heart-gift filled with grace.
Since I’ve known her, right back to the days of Old Fort William, MF shone from within. Her face literally glowed with the lightness of being. She was adroit at traversing both worlds. MF possessed a huge life force and energy field. She was always growing and ever-expanding, crossing boundaries and skipping borders with ease. There was this earth place that she loved so dearly, and embraced with wide-open arms, and then this other place where she is right now, which she understood with a breathtaking profundity. She did not fear it. Not this place. Nor that. For it is all the same. One.
And she encouraged us all to do the same. This was her mantra. Fear not. For we create our own lives. Weave our own destinies. Manifest our own worlds. Hug life and squeeze every ounce of joy out. Then push it back out. Pay it forward.
MF was/is one of the rare beings, who possessed the key to the door to wonder. She saw it all. This and that. Here and there. Now and forever. Eternity in the palm of her hand. Her hand in the hand of the everlasting.
See you later Sweet Soul Sister Beautiful Butterfly.
Love you always, Agaluk.
The night before she died, MF made this last post on Facebook, including a link to Hallelujah – Choir of King’s College, Cambridge live performance of Handel’s Messiah. Extraordinary.
Posted, September 24 at 12:42am: Taking an exultant drive to my place on the water for sunrise, NOW!. Been stuck in the city waaay too long.