Last night I sat in front of my computer screen and cried like a child. So ended weeks of concern about the silence of an online friend who has kept me company for a long while via my blog and his blog, "Hopscotch" but more so through our e-mail correspondence.
I knew nothing more about Louis Sellier apart from the facts that he was a fellow Trinidadian living in Seattle, Washington. He was from the same generation as my parents and had a similar background. Even though he no longer lived in T&T, he still cared enough to follow the news and to voice his concerns via his many letters which were published by the newspapers back home. He was a husband, a father, a retired person whose mind was more alert and curious than most, a gentle soul who found me through my blog and for some reason stayed close.
He never once asked me who I was. Unlike the people of the "flesh" and "show" who demand among other things that modest Muslim women remove their niqabs or that anonymous writers reveal their identities, Louis was secure and wise enough to be more interested in reading the more telling signals that identify the spirits of the persons with whom he interacted. I listened to his spirit as carefully as he did to mine and we were easy and contented with what our intuitions revealed.
In our e-mail correspondence, Louis and I discussed life, nature, politics, his travels, Trinidad and Tobago and finally in January this year he honoured me by sending me an e-mail to share with me the sad news of the death of his wife. Although we had never discussed his personal life, I felt his sadness as if Elena had been my life partner and I posted this memorial in response. It made me happy that he seemed to appreciate it very much. We continued to correspond but there was a very subtle difference in Louis. He had become quieter. I did not press him. I let him know that I understood that he would need time to come to terms with the death of his partner of forty-six years and the mother of his two children and I assured him that I was here for him whenever he needed to discuss anything that was on his mind.
On March 7 he wrote his last letter to me and he mentioned that his wanderlust was returning but that it was tempered by the awareness that it would not be as much fun to travel without the good companionship that his wife had provided in the past. I replied to that letter and suggested that he should maybe find a group with which he could travel. He never responded...I waited and told myself that I should not press him for a reply. Then I began to worry. It was not like him to remain silent. Weeks after, I again wrote him a gentle message, really worried about him but also just as worried about being too intrusive:
This was my last letter:
From: Guanaguanare the laughing gull
Date: Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 5:47 PM
Subject: Just checking...
I know that you must be very focused on making transitions and I don't want to intrude but sometimes I really, really stop what I am doing to just wonder about you. I'm just writing to let you know that I think about you and hope that you are well. I hope that you are on a trip around the world or soaking up the sun on a beautiful beach in Moorea or working on a gorgeous bonsai garden but don't you dare fall ill or leave this world without telling me !!! Wishing you life and peace and renewal with the Spring.
Hugs and blessings,
Unknown to me, my dear friend had already left this world.
Last night, desperate for any news, it occurred to me to search for him with Google. I entered his name within quotes and found among the results, on another Trinidadian's blog, "Sweetlime" the shocking news that he had died on March 16 "as a result of a tragic accident suffered during a trip to visit friends in Arizona."
Without ceremony, Google told me that my friend had died. In shock, I rushed automatically to communicate this news to another blogger and good friend of Louis in Malaysia who had been sharing his concerns with me about Louis' silence and then I wrote a message to his daughter who had supplied her e-mail with the news about her father's death.
Later I returned to the location where I had first seen the news. I stared at the screen, reading the words over and over, finding that I was comprehending less and less with each reading until just the immensity of the loss was all that registered and I began to weep with a sadness that was made much more bitter by the knowledge that it was a month ago that I should have cried. How could he have left without my knowing?
I never met Louis in person to hug him or see his smile. I just knew that he was a good person and he treasured kindness more than gold. It was enough that we were kind to each other, that we listened to each other. It was more than some people who work together in the same space share. It was more than some people who think that they know each other experience.
Thinking back on his quietness after the death of his wife, I am wondering if Louis was waiting, waiting patiently for Elena to send for him. I'm wondering if on March 16, only a couple of months after her death, he was not at all sad but extremely relieved to finally be freed to leave this world to join her.
Louis Sellier, my friend, thank you for your life and your trust and your friendship. I miss you and everything good and true that you represented.
16 April 2011 | 22:56
I am beginning to find the offerings that others have made in memory of the life of Louis Michael Sellier and I will continue to collect the links below as I find them:
Condolences. Catholic News | March 27, 2011.
Thanks to Louis and Skye. By Ric Hernandez | Sweetlime | March 29, 2011
A Final Letter to A Dear Friend. By Covert_Operations78 | Combat Loaded & Mission Ready! | Saturday April 16, 2011.
The Demise of Louis Michael Sellier of Seattle... By Pak Idrus | Pak Idrus's Post... | Sunday April 17, 2011.
Louis. By Pat | The English Cottage | Monday, April 18, 2011
You may also wish to visit this site to share memories of Louis with others.