We just finished up with Karen McNeill's memorial. I went into it feeling sad, that's just how it is and has been. Life moves forward, but there's always a sad presence in my mind. Today I listened to the stories of Karen's life, and they lifted my spirits through remembering hers. There are friends from all over the world in town, and it's good to see so many people connected with Karen. She spun a big web of friends, and I'm happy to have been a small strand of that. Some of the Morley First Nation's people attended, and added some deep drumming, along with some wild art from the classes she taught at the school there: life-sized paper pants painted up to match Karen's infamous choices for clothing. I "stole" a pair, they will hang with pride in our house. I was impressed with how diverse Karen's web is--at times it would have been hard to believe the speakers were talking about the same women. Perhaps one measure of a well-lived life is how broad a spectrum your friends span; Karen's was one hell of a rainbow.
Sue was also there in my mind, I'm going to miss her too. Many of us at the memorial knew both women, and they are linked in all our minds for their climbs together and what a friend called,"Putting the girly back into climbing." I always respected Sue's opinions, even if we were both sure the other was a taco short of a combination plate at times. "Fiesty" was an oft-used word when describing Sue, and I will miss that energy whether she was talking about climbing or whatever was on her super-charged mind at the time.
I wish that these gatherings of the community happened under "better" circumstances, but they are also an opportunity to see the web in tangible form, even with some strands missing. The web of life will be there long after all of us are gone, Karen and Sue helped the web shine in the sun for me. Mt. Foraker is about the most beautiful resting place I can imagine, and I'll always look at photos of it with the knowledge that Karen and Sue are now part of that beauty. Peace to the families and friends of both women.