Last night I finally let myself say goodbye for real. I have been saying goodbye since the night before that horrible morning, through those hours waiting and worrying with those who loved you deepest. I have been saying goodbye since those minutes spent with what had been you, my brilliant, hilarious, kind friend, but wasn’t anymore, trying to hold myself together to be there for your family however I could. I have been saying goodbye with every second that my heart keeps beating after yours was stilled.
Last night at the Grand Thing, my household hosted a bardic circle to remember Conchobhar mac Muirchertaig. Songs were sung and stories told, dad jokes made us groan, lengths of plaid were distributed to those of great merit. I am so unspeakably grateful to everyone who made it happen; I am pretty much totally disconnected from the Bardic community, and an awesome bunch of people made this a rousing success. Thank you to everyone who organized and participated, seriously.
I spoke some words about Conchobhar. I didn’t write them down before hand (I tend not to, I prefer to extemporize for nearly all situations) and I didn’t think to capture them. But this has been on my mind for a while, so some of it is still batting around and I want to say it here. This isn’t exactly what I said but it will probably have some of the spirit of it.
I’m a Laurel, and I saw the Peer in Conchobhar. He was a master at his chosen art. He inspired others. He relentlessly pursued research and authenticity. He made our Kingdom better, he made our Society better, and he made us better as individuals. I have such strong memories of him during Finals at Kingdom Bardic. I loved watching him perform, and talk about his research and answer questions. I think when he told stories he became this other self, his best self. But for me the biggest moment wasn’t actually when he was telling his story, it was an answer to a question.
Mistress Isolde asked Conchobhar what he would do as Bardic Champion of An Tir, and he kind of squared off and looked indignant and responded “Isolde, I’m insulted! I AM a Bardic Champion of An Tir! Everywhere I go, and everything I do, I promote the Bardic Arts in An Tir!” and he proceeded to list off all the ways he championed the Bardic Arts.
I thought in that moment that it wouldn’t be long before I would be part of Conchobhar’s Vigil.
Although I was given the gift of being present with him for a vigil, it was not in a way that I would have ever wanted. I was unable to bring Conchobhar into our Laurels’ council, so the only way I can make his voice heard is through me. I must carry on as a tribute to him. I hope someday to be half as good a person as he thought I was. Let us all work toward living the memory of Conchobhar.
Among my father’s people there is a custom, to seal a bond with a toast, a boast, and an oath.
I made my toast to Peggy and Karen, Russ’s moms. I thanked them for giving the world their son, and for letting us in the SCA borrow him.
I boasted of all my memories of time well spent with Conchobhar. From that time with the Jell-O shots to that other time with the sangria, we had so many wonderful moments together. I boasted that I have known joy.
Finally, my oath — I made public and oath that I swore to Conchobhar on many occasions in private, in particular when he was ill at the end. I swore that I would always watch out for his kinfolk, for his beloved Errenach and children. In ancient days it was the custom to send our dead off with grave goods, with valuable gifts to take with them to whatever may come next. I can think of no gift that Conchobhar would value more than this, and so it is what I give him to take from me: I will care for his family as my own.
To Conchobhar, with all my love, now and always.