Two weeks ago today, my friend Ramsey Whitefish’s life was brought to an abrupt end. There’s been a lot said about him in the last two weeks, and especially today at his memorial. There have been articles written about his murder, and about his gifts as an poet/actor. There have been a wide variety of thoughts about Ramsey shared on facebook, etc, which begin to paint a picture of the precious and extremely complex person that he was.
I haven’t said a lot about him on social media, except to share news articles. This is partly because I wasn’t nearly as close to him as many other people were. It’s also because I had a somewhat complicated relationship is Rams, and therefore my grief is also complicated. I know that I’m not alone in this. After being at his memorial today, though, I feel ready to say a few things about Ramsey myself.
I was equal parts fond of and frightened of Rams. He was hilarious, compassionate and smart. I’ll never forget the Sunday at Sanctuary, a couple of years ago, when he came over to give me a hard time (as he usually tried to do). I was working through something difficult at the time, and was crying. As soon as he realized that I was weepy his whole demeanor changed, from mischievous to pastoral. He came over, wiped the tears from my face, and smeared them onto his own. I can’t remember his exact words, but the general impression was one of genuine care, solidarity and comfort.
This same guy also genuinely scared me when he wasn’t doing well. I knew he would never intentionally cause me harm, but there were times when he was so not himself that I didn’t feel confident of my safety, or of the safety of those around us. He was also consistently disruptive during our church services at Sanctuary…but he was there. He didn’t write off church, but fully participated, in his own wacky, shit disturbing way. When he prayed it was often beyond beautiful… and then just as often turned bizarrely inappropriate. But then he would say “we’re all the same. One love! Miigwetch, miigwetch, miigwetch”.
The last time I saw Rams was a Sunday, three days before he died. I was carrying around a new baby, and he came over to admire her, and bug me. I feel sad to admit that I spent the rest of the service trying to avoid him, because I wanted to cuddle the baby and listen to the sermon in peace.
So, I’m not really sure how to say goodbye to this deeply troubled, deeply beautiful man. Rams, thank you for being my friend, for wiping away my tears, for sharing your poetry and your life. I’m sorry that I so easily lost patience with your antics, when I knew that they were symptoms of the pain you had experienced/ were experiencing. However, after hearing some stories today about your early years, it seems that you’ve always had a mischievous, trouble-making streak. I can see you now, giving me the middle finger and telling me to cut the crap. So… see you later, ya weirdo.