My landlay died today. That’s not quite true, actually. In all probability, she died several days ago or more, but I discovered it this evening. This has precipitated several events. First, I find myself wishing I had done more. I wish I’d acted sooner. I wish I’d talked to her more often. I wish I knew more of her stories. And wishes can neither breathe nor swim, and thus they do me no good. So I move on to the memories and the drinking. I remember her patience, her tolerance, her love. I remember her hobbies and those that she herself loved. And I drink to her memory. And of course I find myself wondering why it is that we drink to the dead.
In the memory of Dottie, my dearly departed landlord I drink to you my living friends and lovers. I drink to you Kelly, my beloved partner in this brief span of artistic endeavor. I drink to you Ronald and you Sandra who reared me and gave me all that I am and all that I know. I drink to you Milton and you Juanita who sacrificed so much to preserve my freedom, even though you likely agree with few of my decisions. (Rest assured that I decide based on what I believe is right. I do not expect you to agree. Nor do I in any way think less of you for all our differences. I love you. I respect you. I hope that I am worthy of the sacrifices that you have made on some absolute metaphysical scale that neither of us may read.) I drink to my sister and my brother. They have weathered much. They have found good. They have pursued it. I am proud to be cut from the same cloth as they, and I pray that they may find all that they seek and more.
I drink to my friends. I drink to Ali and Pat. I drink to Sidhebaap and Chellery. I drink to both of the Rachels that I have known, and Debbie, and both Joes. (Both are dear to me. The UrQuan lord and the author equally.) I drink to Kelly Ludwig and Ryan Gozer and Jeff Cole. I drink to all my friends: new old and unmentioned. I have known many people over my life. Many good friends. I cannot hope to name them all here, but I drink to all of them as might hope to read this. I drink to a variety of Cats. I drink to an Elizabeth or two. I drink to all my loves: past, and present. Elizabeth, Avril, Amy, George (girl George, you perverts), Tonya, and indeed Kelly, whom I have mentioned before, and should mention again so often as I have breath.
Indeed, I drink to all the living. No, we are no more worthy than the dead. I would drink equally to Kenneth and Jane, to Elizabeth Parsons and to Vernon, George, Ellah, Raymond, Esther, Fred, and all that have gone before. I would drink to all my dead friends and forbears. But we the living poses one special trait that the dead no longer share. We can appreciate the love of our fellows. We can feel the lack of those whom we miss. I drink to my honored dead, yes, but I drink also to the living. Let me not wait until you are dead to tell you how much you mean to me. Let me tell you now. You are wonderful and special. All of you. You Zenkas and Cats that I know only by virtue of mail, and you Michaels and Christels that I know in person, but have not thanked nearly often enough. I drink to you. The wonderful people in my life. And if by misdeed or mischance I have left you worthies that might see this out of the list of accolades, know that I would have included you were I better than a flawed man. I drink to all the living that have affected me. All that have shaped me and helped me. I drink to you in the name and memory of my honored dead, but also in your own names and honors, as you have honor and your memory is cherished. I fight that it may not erode so long as I live. Thank you.