Wednesday, 12 February 2014


I got this photo from here.
This is Ellen. Ellen died, very suddenly, very shockingly, on the weekend, on her birthday.

We met in junior high. I don't remember our first meeting but I do remember being in metalwork class with her. I did metalwork in Grade 7 and 8 and Ellen joined in Grade 8. We had a lesson on welding and most of us set about whatever welding project had been assigned - I can't remember what it was. There is a food warmer in my parent's basement so it might have been that. When it was time to have our projects evaluated, Ellen had made a fantastic art piece - a set of square tubes of different heights welded together. I remember thinking "WOW!" and "WTF!" at the same time. I was amazed that someone even had the idea to go off script let alone the nerve, impressed that my friend had such art in her and a little chagrined that she had surpassed my year-long training in a matter of weeks.

A lot of days with Ellen were like that one. She always seemed a little bit cooler, a little bit more self-assured and quite a bit more innovative than the rest of us.

Some of my best memories from high school are times Ellen took me to the Ruptash cottage. I loved it all - trekking to the cottage, swimming and rowing, picking blueberries, cooking on the wood stove, washing dishes outside by the well - but the part I loved best were the evenings when we would light one of the oil lamps, roll up some Drum tobacco, pour a drink, and talk long into the night.

I haven't spent a day or evening with Ellen for a long time now but when I see someone doing something in a way that surprises and delights everybody in the room, I think about her.

Another person I met at about the same time once said, "I still love pretty much everybody I used to love." That is true for me too. Ellen is one of a precious cohort and it hurts like hell that she had to leave us behind once more.

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